An esteemed word boffin has called for an end to the urban myths surrounding the alleged damaging impact texting is having on the English language.
Professor David Crystal argues that such condensed messages enhance and enrich language skills.
An honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, he said texting was widespread across all age groups and despite having a bad press it was merely another way to use language. Whilst researching his book – Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 – Prof Crystal said the oldest example of texter he had found was an 86-year-old grandmother in the United States.
The Prof suggests that there is a popular misconception that text messages were all made up of abbreviated words.
“If you collected a huge pile of messages and counted all the whole words and the abbreviations, the fact of the matter is that less than 10% would be shortened,” he claims.
“If you ask kids if they use the same style in their work they look at you as if you are mad. This is just a story going around, a huge urban myth.”
I can certainly see some benefits to txt spk, but I take issue with the Prof’s assertion that its use has not filtered into the classroom.
Evidence from teachers themselves seems to suggest otherwise. Indeed, a little over a year ago some teachers were advocating allowing txt spk to be used in exam papers.
So is txt spk a trend that will pass like so many others before it, or is it here to stay?
Prof Crystal regards it as an evolving form of language, one that has only been with us for a decade and which is far from being fully-formed. What form that evolution takes is unclear.
But surely, as this is such a comparatively young language, just as it is too soon to claim it is damaging our language skills then it also far too early to claim txt spk is gr8?