In an experiment, the more adept children were at text messaging, the better they did in spelling and writing.
The most hotly contested controversy sparked by the text-messaging phenomenon of the past eight years is over truant letters. Textese(Text(手机短信)+ ese(用语))组成, a newly born dialect of English that subverts letters and numbers to produce ultra-concise words and sentiments, is horrifying language loyalists and pedagogues. And their fears are stoked by some staggering numbers: this year the world is on track to produce 2.3 trillion messages——a nearly 20 percent increase from 2007 and almost 150 percent from 2000. The accompanying revenue for telephone companies is growing nearly as fast——to an estimated $ 60 billion this year. In the English-speaking world, Britain alone generates well over 6 billion messages every month. People are communicating more and faster than ever, but some worry that, as textese drops consonants, vowels and punctuation and makes no distinction between letters and numbers, people will no longer know how we were really supposed to communicate. Will text messaging produce generations of illiterates? Could this——OMG(Oh my God)——be the death of English language?
Those raising the alarm aren't linguist. They are teachers who have had to red-pen some ridiculous practices in high-school papers and concerned citizens who believe it their moral duty to write grammar books. The latter can be quite prominent, like John Humphrys, a television broadcaster and household name in Britain, for whom texting is vandalism and Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, who actually enjoys texting so much she never abbreviates. Britain, one of the first countries where texting became a national habit, has also produced some of the most bitter anti-texting vitriol, textese wrote John Sutherland in The Guardian, masks dyslexia. But linguists, if anyone is paying attention, have kept quiet on this score——until now. In a new book, Britain's most prolific linguist finally sets a few things straight.