Semi colon, close brackets

As instant-communication through the internet has developed, particularly through MSN and Facebook chat (if it ever works), you will have no doubt found yourself “dumbing down” your English as well as expressing yourself through the use of emoticons or “smileys” (textual expressions representing the face of the writer’s mood) such as 🙂 😉 or 😦 . “Txt talk” such as “g2g” (got to go), “brb” (be right back) and “lmao” (laughing my ass off) would be unidentifiable less than a decade ago but it now makes up for quite a big part in our day-to-day communication.

I am keen to find out your thoughts on this form of writing and expression online and if you think it may well be acceptable to use such grammar and symbols for published news in the near future (surely not!). Has it hampered the learning of younger generations who are growing up with this technology, communicating in this manner and subsequently thinking it is acceptable for use in school? This article from 2003 certainly raises concerns, but have these been addressed? Has it somehow damaged our daily use of the English language or, like me, do you feel it is simply a useful part of online communication, enhancing our way of speech in the sense that using shortened versions of words and phrases allows us to get to the point quicker?

Look at these two sentences: “You were looking good at school today” and  “You were looking good at school today :P”  – one might be considered quite an innocent statement, the other, featuring that devilishly happy tongue-out face may turn my compliment into a more cheeky, sex-ridden remark. Essentially, the option to use a colon and a bracket to express happiness is, somehow, “cheating”, in the sense that we think less about writing to express our feelings and instead type two keyboard characters – namely “:” and “)” – to do the work for us.

Whether this article made you “lol” or “rofl” or even if you “cba” reading it all the way through, I welcome your comments 😉


6 Responses

  1. Wow mate, you had to go and select that article didn’t you? Turns out that last year in English Language we studied every last word of that article in exam prep for one of our “Analysing Texts” modules!! We concluded that basically the essay used “very over-exaggerated” text language – i,e, every single word had text language in it. It seemed as if it was one of those things where any word that didn’t have a possibility of text language was removed and replaced with a word that did. We concluded that this essay, whilst being an essay, had some external factors not mentioned in the article (eg. If the school had told the students the press were coming for something unrelated so a student did this for a laugh to see if it made news) That kind of thing. So I don’t buy into this whole it is changing how we talk – i use text language all the time, use smiley’s and everything on MSN, Facebook and when texting. That doesn’t mean I use them for writing even in blogs. I, having studied English Language Through Time, believe this new age of text talk is not replacing what we have, it is broadening what we have.

    And let’s face it – if someone says the word “lol” out loud they get a whole room full of evil stares – because those words have their place and it isn’t outside of technology

  2. haha i wrote an article when i was about 15 on mobile phones that bangs on about that too. seems we all have a wierd similar interest…
    il post mine up in response to you!

  3. George this is a really good post. My mobile contract used to be limited to 300 texts per month and I regularly used text talk to send smaller texts to make my 300 last longer.
    Now I have unlimited texts and have reverted back to writing properly as I don’t see the point in abbreviating if it isn’t going to save me money.
    With regards to saving time, I would rather write something properly even if it does take longer but I love the written word so much that I feel strongly about good english being applied.
    I absolutely cringe when I see text talk used in written work and I do automatically jump to the conclusion that it represents a lack of ability. (Sorry, I don’t mean to offend anyone who disagrees.
    However, I do feel differently about emoticons. Particularly in text, email and social networking because they help to give a sense of meaning to what you write. You are right about how words can be perceived when you aren’t able to see a person’s expression or if you don’t know them well enough to assume what they mean. I think emoticons are beneficial for this.
    My daughter is 12 and will use abbreviated words when texting but is aware that this is the only place where their use is appropriate so I don’t think it hampers learning. I suppose it is just the same as any other form of language. But I do think it would be wrong to encourage it in schools and that traditional english should be maintained and encouraged.
    Great article!


  4. I’ve always wondered where people stand on this issue, it is really interesting. I watched Steven Fry on the Jonathan Ross show a few years back when text language was really up and coming. Ross tried to be clever and show his all-out hatred for text speak but Fry pointed out that language is always evolving and text language was perhaps just another stage in the change.

    I have to agree it has a time and place and if it is used as a time saver or money saver it can be quite effective. However, I have known friends to send me messages using text language where they have lengthened the words (why?!) or it has been so incomprehensible, I have either spent too long figuring out the meaning or have had to ask them to resend the message. I am one of those people who use full words and proper grammar and punctuation in all my texts and emails.

    On the case of smileys, I completely agree with Lisa. It can make the difference between a joking conversation or a quick fall out! I can be quite sarcastic at times and find using a smiley face or a wink can show I don’t mean my comment to be taken seriously, especially for those who don’t know me very well.

  5. Very interesting post George!

    I have to admit that abbreviations and tarting up my text messages with smileys and kisses (xox) is second nature to me. It is now force of habit from previous years of being ‘in with’ text chat, that I continue to text in this lazy style. As soon as my fingers touch the keys on a phone they attomatically revert to missing out nouns in words and writing z instead of s. It is actually quite annoying because I want to change my childish habit and begin to sound more mature and respectable but my hands seem not to agree with me!

    Friends commented that I sound dead ‘chavy’ in some of my texts so i decided enough is enough. I have now changed my settings to predictive text so that all my abbreviations are not recognised and I have to touch type words that are correct English. I found this difficult to begin with, as well as being quite slow, as I had to add some fun words to the dictionary, like ‘snuggles’, but I am beginning to enjoy this new way of texting – I can still add my smileys and I do find it difficult to resist putting an ‘x’ in place of a full stop, but this helps me achieve a more adult Julia, which I suppose has its benefits……

    Well done!
    Julia x

  6. Great blog, George…very relevant to our audience and written in an entertaining way…I did ‘lol’ a couple of times.

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