Although many students do not necessarily see Short Message Service (sms) texting as "real writing," educators complain that the students are using the informal sms abbreviations in their daily writing. The challenge is that students sometimes blur the lines between formal English and the very informal sms language. This causes them to make a lot of spelling and grammatical errors in their assignments and tests, and makes it hard for teachers to distinguish what they are trying to say. A 2009 academic study suggested that as soon as children can distinguish between formal and informal language, sms language does not affect their literacy. A group of 10-to-12-year-old children were tested, and no association was found between the sms language they use and their spelling scores.
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Creative Use of Letters, Punctuation and Numbers
According to the study, sms language increases phonetic awareness in children. The language use phonetics creatively. For instance, "u" replaces "you," and "8" would be used in words like "great," "late" and "hate." Texters use punctuation to create pictures conveying emotions to add meaning to their messages, for instance a smiley face, sad face or kiss. According to the study, sms language stimulates people's ability to decode and encode information in creative ways.
Unusual Spellings for Baby Names
According to Thaindian, sms language has sparked a trend to spell baby names in unusual ways. Parents draw from "cool" sms spellings to create new names such as "Alex-Zander" or "Emma-Lee." Australian social analyst Mark McCrindle discovered that individual baby names are often spelt up to 12 ways. The trend is to create unique names to emphasise how individual and special babies are to their parents.
Impact on Lesson Plans
Because sms language is so widely used, some schools have incorporated it into their lesson plans. Scottish schools, for instance, had to specify when pupils are allowed to use sms expressions in their writing. Some teachers use this quick writing style to spark the students' learning. They allow the children to use sms language in their first, rough essay drafts to get thoughts and ideas onto paper more quickly. The students then switch to standard English when editing and revising the essay. Other activities include having students translate sms pieces into standard English, or translate a classic piece of literature (such as Shakespeare) into sms language. This exercise demonstrates the students' comprehension of the text.
Influence on Advertising
Advertisers sometimes use sms texting to reach their audience on a personal level. Companies that focus on the teen market tend to use sms language in their advertising. The benefit is that sms language can communicate longer concepts with fewer words, making it quicker to read and the impact higher. The longer an advertising message, the less likely that people will linger long enough to read it all. The visual impact of the less traditional way of writing also makes an advertisement more memorable.
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- Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology: The Impact of Short Message Service
- Shuttleworth Foundation: The Effects of Texting on Literacy
- Exploring the Relationship Between Children's Knowledge of Text Message Abbreviations and School Literacy Outcomes; "British Journal of Developmental Psychology"; B. Plester, C. Wood and P. Joshi; 2009.
- "Scotsman": Msg Is Clear as Joy of Txt Proves Gr8 for Society
- Thaindian: SMS Language Sparks Off Unusually Spelt Baby Names Trend