Text talk – Language Revolution

Text talk – Language Revolution – Brief Article

Charles Paul Freund

“My SMMR hols wr CWOT,” a 13-year-old Scottish student wrote recently in a school essay. “B4 we usd 2g02 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr3: -kds FTF.ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc.” According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the rest of the assigned paper read the same way.

“I could not believe what I was seeing,” the child’s teacher told the newspaper. “The page was riddled with hieroglyphics, many of which I simply could not translate.”

That’s because the teacher was illiterate in the language of cell phone text messaging, which her idiot student had chosen to use for her paper. The Telegraph supplied a “translation”: “My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York. It’s a great place.” The girl’s excuse for eschewing standard English: Texting was “easier.”

Apparently, the same kind of texting has been turning up on Scotland’s standardized English exams lately, which enabled the London-based Telegraph to alarm its readers with a slap-on-the-forehead “crisis.” According to the paper, “Education experts have warned of the potentially damaging effect on literacy of mobile phone text messaging.”

But if anybody in this tale has a literacy problem, it’s the teacher, because she couldn’t decipher a “language” used daily by millions of people. Of course, the student has a problem too, but hers is a problem of intelligence; she didn’t know what language to use when. Most texters are, in essence, bilingual, and they know when to apply their varied talents. But you won’t soon see education experts proclaim that “the spread of mobile phone text messaging is allowing students to expand their facility with symbolic logic and to apply it in new and creative ways.”

Even if they were to say such a thing, you probably wouldn’t read about it in the newspaper.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Reason Foundation

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group