Texting 'not killing off English language'

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London, May 26 : Contrary to popular belief, SMS texting is not corrupting or killing the English language.

The finding is based on a new study that sought to allay fears regarding grammar and spelling.

The new study by two linguists at the University of Toronto looked into the language used on instant messaging (IM) systems and found that abbreviations used made up only a tiny fraction of the communication and did not affect users' grammatical skill

They analysed more than 1.5 million words of SMS conversations and discovered that only 2.44 pct of the words used were text language and almost all the abbreviations referred to laughing, such as "haha," "LOL" (laugh out loud) and "hehe".

The study called the frequency of the text language "miniscule."

"They are using 'shall' and 'must' in instant messaging like they use 'gotta' and 'I'll' in conversation. They're doing things your grandmother might do, and at the same time they're saying 'LOL'," Scotsman quoted Sali Tagliamonte, professor of linguistics at Toronto, as saying.

"They demonstrate very clearly that their grammatical skills are intact, and they very effectively mix it with other types of language," she added.

"Texting and instant messaging are not the first forms of communication to be accused of destroying language and grammar, said Dr Robert Millar, senior lecturer in linguistics at Aberdeen University,

"It happened at the time of the telegraph and telegram when many criticised the use of telegram language. Abbreviations like gr8 have been used in language for centuries - there are examples even from the time of Egyptian hieroglyphics," he added.

Experts believe that mobile phone texting, email and instant messaging are helping people to stay in touch with each other which would otherwise be lost.

"There is no doubt that this technology is helping people maintain contact in a way that they would not have in the past," Scotsman quoted April McMahon, professor of English language at Edinburgh University, as saying.

"Emailing and texting are just so easy and convenient, and you can bash off an email to someone in a few minutes.

"They are causing us to have far more conversation with each other and opening new ways to stay in touch, and we are using them.

"I know that some people are nostalgic for the age of having a scented envelope picked up from the home and being with the recipient by two o'clock that afternoon, but I think most of us value the convenience of email and text messages.

"The debate about the technology's effect on grammar is actually a great opportunity to debate and discuss grammar and the use of language with young people. There is too little chance to do that in the current system," she added.

ANI

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