Texting Can Have A Negative Effect On Linguistics
February 17, 2012

Texting Can Have A Negative Effect On Linguistics

A new study finds that people who send frequent text messages may have linguistic problems when trying to interpret and accept words.

The study, conducted by Joan Lee, M.A. of University of Calgary, revealed that people who texted more were less accepting of new words. And those who read more traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines, were more accepting of the same words.

For the study, Lee asked university students about their reading habits, including text messages, and presented them with a range of words both real and fictitious.

Lee said it was previously assumed that text messaging encouraged unconstrained language. But the study proved this theory wrong. “The people who accepted more words did so because they were better able to interpret the meaning of the word, or tolerate the word, even if they didn´t recognize the word,” she said. “Students who reported texting more rejected more words instead of acknowledging them as possible words.”

Reading traditional print exposes people to variety and creativity in language that is not found in most text messages used among younger people, suggested Lee. Reading encourages flexibility in language use and tolerance of different words. It helps readers develop skills that allows them to generate interpretable readings of new or unfamiliar words.

“In contrast, texting is associated with rigid linguistic constraints which caused students to reject many of the words in the study,” said Lee. “This was surprising because there are many unusual spellings or ℠textisms´ such as ℠LOL´ in text messaging language.”

Word frequency is an important factor in the acceptance of words for people who frequently text, she noted.

“Textisms represent real words which are commonly known among people who text,” added Lee. “Many of the words presented in the study are not commonly known and were not acceptable to the participants in the study who texted more or read less traditional print media.”


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