The Gr8 Deb8 of Teen Txting: Text Messaging Ruining The English Language?

SPOKANE, Wash. - OMG, LOL, BRB...sounds like something your kids text message you? What if those texts showed up on your child's homework?

As more and more "textisms" show up on essays and papers, KHQ takes a look at the effects texting has on literacy in the classroom. Is the need to abbreviate undoing all the grammar and spelling students have learned over the years? Or is this language's natural evolution?

In the digital age, teenagers regularly scrap the English dictionary for a new dialect: "Textese" or "Text-speak." Textese drops consonants, vowels, and punctuation, and uses letters and numbers interchangeably.

"Me and my friends have created our own language," On Track Academy student Marie Townsend said. "My texts are mostly just texting language. I do mix some actual words in there but I don't use punctuation."

Shadle High School senior Rebecca Mohr said, "I think its just of a fun thing that people enjoy, the shortness and the quickness."

According to a Nielson study, teens aged 13 to 17 send and receive 3,339 text messages per month. Teenage girls like Townsend and Mohr receive more than 4,000.

"I'm texting all through the day, non-stop until I go to bed," Townsend said. "Sometimes, even right before I go to bed, I'm texting."

Mohr also admitted to texting throughout the day but, for the record, said she spells out all of her texts in complete sentences. At this rate, was it only a matter of time before OMG and IDK replaced English in classrooms?

Or worse: is texting the death of the English language?

Chewelah High School English Literature teacher Mr. Michael Schut said tees "feel like they have clearly separated in their mind when they're texting and when they're writing, and they don't see any problems with it blending or bleeding over. I do."

In his classes of juniors and seniors, Mr. Schut teaches literary classics from Orwell to Shakespeare. But of essays he expects to be rich with literary devices, Schut said 10 percent are red-inked because of Textese.

"I see it probably most prevalent is the absence of punctuation and capitalization," he said. "Often times if I'm looking at rough drafts, all of a sudden there will be spaces of just no punctuation, no capitalization, no commas."

A recent study published in Australia found that texting teens performed faster on tests but were also more prone to error. What's more, Mr. Schut found that constant texting distracts students from developing their formal reading and writing skills.

"My biggest concern is that they could be better writers than they are because they're not using those formal writing skills enough," Schut said.

Others like the author of "Txtng: The Gr8 Db8" argues texting actually makes young people better communicators, not worse. Townsend is proof. For all her texting banter, she is also a published author.

"Just because you're a texter or if you text a lot, it doesn't mean that you can't write well-written essays or you can't, for example, write a book," Townsend said. "You can, as long as you can balance it out, and separate your grammar from the texting."

To most teens, texting is not the death of an old language but the birth of a new one. The key, Townsend believes, is to be fluent in both.

In that case, students will have language skills that could give William and Webster a Rn 4 thr $$.

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