Sunday, 25 May 2008

Txtng mks u clvr

The Sunday Times reports on research that says children should be encouraged to send more text messages because they can improve literacy. Professor David Crystal believes that sending frequent texts helps children’s reading and writing because of the imaginative abbreviations needed.

The finding is in stark contrast to fears that texting’s free forms and truncated words herald the abandonment of traditional grammar. “People have always used abbreviations,” said Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. “They do not actually use that many in texts but when they do they are using them in new, playful and imaginative ways that benefit literacy.” Crystal’s views will appear in his new book, Txtng: The Gr8 Db8.

In one study due to appear in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, researchers asked 88 10 to 12-year-olds to compose text messages for various social scenarios. Beverly Plester, a senior lecturer in psychology at Coventry University, and her colleagues found that using “textisms” – abbreviations such as “2nite” for “tonight” – was “positively associated with word reading, vocabulary and phonological awareness”.

John Humphrys, the BBC presenter, has described text messagers as “vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours 800 years ago”.

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