Text lingo or language of SMS is dominant in our engagement with text messages daily and this lingo appears to be driven by three key sociolinguistic fundamentals as introduced by ‘language philosopher’ Paul Grice; brevity and speed, paralinguistic restitution and phonological approximation. All three fundamentals are evident in our daily SMS interactions with common words such as: “lol, ello, tmrw, u, nite, thx, argh!!!” We r prbly all guilty of infusing dis new lingo in our evryday txt conversations.
The impact of this lingo may result in improper or informal use of language where the formal style is required ala reports, letters etc. As a Nielsen Mobile’s research indicates that texting has become the communication form of choice among the young, with the average U.S. teenager sending or receiving more than 1,700 text messages a month, while making or receiving just 230 calls, there is a worry that this most common form of writing may take precedence in the younger generations’ writing style.
A Professor Michael Shayer’s study in 2008 on 800 secondary students found that pupils now lived in an environment favouring instant responses, but the downside was a “dumbing down” and a lack of deeper understanding. This finding arouses the issue that with texting, the young might be stifled in their development of detailed understanding and analytical thinking skills which would critically impact them and society at large. Shayer elaborates that the “culture of text messages and computer games is about speed and instant hits, rather than more profound or detailed ways of handling information”. This research findings sync well with the problem of SMS lingo as it demonstrates that texting might well have negative effects on the current and future generations’ learning and language capabilities. Perhaps in 20 years time, we could well see a new generation of a text savvy, formal illiterate society.