Tween texting may lead to poor grammar skills

  • April 27, 2014
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Tween texting may lead to poor grammar skills


Text mes­sag­ing may of­fer tweens a quick way to send notes to friends and fam­i­ly, but it could lead to de­clin­ing lan­guage and gram­mar skills, ac­cord­ing to re­search­ers.

Tweens who fre­quently use lan­guage adapta­t­ion­s-“tech­s­peak”-while tex­ting per­formed poorly on a gram­mar test, said Drew Cin­gel, a doc­tor­al can­di­date in me­dia, tech­nol­o­gy and so­ci­e­ty at North­west­ern Uni­vers­ity in Il­li­nois.

When tweens write in tech­s­peak, they of­ten use short­cuts, such as ho­mo­phones, omis­sions of non-essential let­ters and ini­tials, to quickly and ef­fi­ciently com­pose a text mes­sage. “They may use a hom­o­phone, such as gr8 for great, or an in­i­tial, like, LOL for laugh out loud,” said Cin­gel. “An ex­am­ple of an omis­sion that tweens use when tex­ting is spell­ing the word would, w-u-d.”

Cin­gel, who worked with S. Shyam Sun­dar of Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­vers­ity, said the use of these short­cuts may hind­er a tween's abil­ity to switch be­tween tech­s­peak and the nor­mal rules of gram­mar.

Cin­gel gave mid­dle school stu­dents in a cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia school dis­trict a gram­mar as­sess­ment test. The re­search­ers re­viewed the test, which was based on a ninth-grade gram­mar re­view, to en­sure that all the stu­dents in the study had been taught the con­cepts.

The re­search­ers, who re­port their find­ings in the cur­rent is­sue of the journal New Me­dia & So­ci­e­ty, then passed out a sur­vey that asked stu­dents to de­tail their tex­ting habits, such as how many texts they send and re­ceive, as well as their opin­ion on the im­por­tance of tex­ting. The re­search­ers al­so asked par­ti­ci­pants to note the num­ber of adapta­t­ions in their last three sent and re­ceived text mes­sages. Of the 542 sur­veys dis­trib­ut­ed, stu­dents com­plet­ed and re­turned 228, or 42.1 per­cent.

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“Over­all, there is ev­i­dence of a de­cline in gram­mar scores based on the num­ber of adapta­t­ions in sent text mes­sages, con­trol­ling for age and grade,” Cin­gel said.

Not only did fre­quent tex­ting neg­a­tively pre­dict the test re­sults, but both send­ing and re­ceiv­ing text adapta­t­ions were as­so­ci­at­ed with how poorly they per­formed on the test, ac­cord­ing to Sun­dar. “In oth­er words, if you send your kid a lot of texts with word adapta­t­ions, then he or she will probably im­i­tate it,” Sun­dar said. “These adapta­t­ions could af­fect their off-line lan­guage skills that are im­por­tant to lan­guage de­vel­op­ment and gram­mar skills, as well.”

Typ­i­cal punctua­t­ion and sen­tence struc­ture short­cuts that tweens use dur­ing tex­ting, such as avoid­ing cap­i­tal let­ters and not us­ing pe­ri­ods at the end of sen­tences, did not seem to af­fect their abil­ity to use cor­rect cap­i­tal­iz­a­tion and punctua­t­ion on the tests, ac­cord­ing to Sun­dar. The re­search­ers sug­gested that the tweens' nat­u­ral de­sire to im­i­tate friends and fam­i­ly, as well as their in­abil­ity to switch back to prop­er gram­mar, may com­bine to in­flu­ence the poor gram­mar choices they make in more for­mal writ­ing.

Sun­dar said that the tech­nol­o­gy it­self in­flu­ences the use of lan­guage short cuts. Tweens typ­ic­ally com­pose their mes­sages on mo­bile de­vices, like phones, that have small screens and key­boards. “There is no ques­tion that tech­nol­o­gy is al­low­ing more self-ex­pres­sion, as well as dif­fer­ent forms of ex­pres­sion,” said Sun­dar. “Cul­tures built around new tech­nol­o­gy can al­so lead to com­pro­mises of ex­pres­sion and these re­stric­tions can be­come the nor­m.”

Cin­gel, who started the study as a stu­dent in the Shreyer Hon­ors Col­lege at Penn State, said the idea to in­ves­t­i­gate the ef­fect of tex­ting on gram­mar skills be­gan af­ter re­ceiv­ing texts from his young nieces. “I re­ceived text mes­sages from my two young­er nieces that, for me, were in­com­pre­hen­sible,” Cin­gel said. “I had to call them and ask them, ‘what are you try­ing to tell me.'”

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Source : http://www.world-science.net

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