31 Oct 2012
By Wright Communications
With the rise of text messaging over the past two decades changing the face of the way we communicate, we look at the impact this is having on our language.
Text messaging has been around globally for 20 years this December and while not becoming part of Kiwi lives until 1999, it soon caught on and was embraced, particularly by the younger generation, as part of daily life.
Some believe text messaging is ruining our use of language, with the likes of OMG, LOL and BFF now becoming more and more prolific, understood, and accepted as part of regular communications.
Some text speak or "textish" has even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, begging the question of whether this new form of truncated communication will become the norm in years to come.
A recent infographic from American-based www.onlineschools.com/ highlights some of the astounding statistics associated with this evolving language; the most impressive being a staggering 8 trillion text messages were sent in 2011.
Korean phone maker LG even ran a New Zealand text-messaging competition to see who was the fastest, most accurate texter. A similar national championship competition in the United States drew 100,000 competitors, with the winner managing 149 words in 39 seconds, error free!
Ninety-five percent of all 18-24-year-old Americans own a cell phone and 97 per cent of those text daily; on average more than 100 times each day.
Several studies have delved into the impact on English as we know it, with mixed findings.
One study showed regular texters were less likely to accept new words into their vocabulary than those who frequently read traditional print media.
Another study claims to have found a link between texting and lower scores on grammar tests, yet a further British study showed the use of text message abbreviations produced high performer spellers.
According to a recent story on stuff.co.nz, some young Kiwis who grew up with the technology are becoming less hooked on it as mobile networks are offering cheaper mobile calls and new smartphone apps provide alternatives.
Vodafone New Zealand backs this up, saying while still popular, the rate of growth of text messaging has slowed.
For better or worse, Victoria University futurologist Ian Yeoman says there's no doubt texting has changed the way people interact and it was now firmly embedded in society.
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