Texting: language evolution or fingered speech?

texting Nowadays there is a common worry among parents and teachers related to the new uses of language by youngsters in texting services,  and how hand-held devices such as smartphones or tablets are influencing the way our teenagers write and communicate.

Anne Curzan argues in the Chronicle of Higher Education that what is perceived as a problem or a bad practice is nothing but a natural evolution of the language and our society. We tend to underestimate the ability of youngsters to determine in which situations it is “correct” to use acronyms or non-normative abbreviations; we tend to assume that they are going to use texting-style writing in every situation of their life, and this assumption may not be correct.

Living languages evolve, change and are subjected to modifications due to the rising of new ways of communication among individuals and communities. Professor John McWhorter from Columbia University, states in this Wired article that texting is, in fact, more similar to spoken language:

“Texting isn’t written language […] It much more closely resembles the kind of language we’ve had for so many more years: spoken language.”

People have been complaining for centuries about the decline of written language and, perhaps, this is only an additional page to this never-ending story. We should be aware that maybe when teenagers are texting they are using another kind of communication, sort of “fingered speech.”

Read the full Chronicle of Higher Education article >>

Image by | Jhaymesisvipphotography under CreativeCommons Licence BY 2.0

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