Avid texters and their parents and teachers can relax after a study found that the use of wacky text-speak syntax doesn't appear to spill over into writing performed at school or work.
The study, Exploring the longitudinal relationships between the use of grammar in text messaging and performance on grammatical tasks, rounded up 243 students from the UK's West Midlands. Test subjects all owned phones, but were spread among primary, secondary and (undergraduate-level) tertiary educational institutions.
The subjects' knowledge of grammar was tested in various ways. Participants were also asked to provide the text of all their recent TXTs, so any “grammatical violations” could be recorded.
The subjects were then observed over time and their scholarly writings checked to see if the vocabulary and syntax they used when TXTing was leaking into their other writing.
The conclusion drawn by one study's authors, the University of Tasmania's Nenagh Kemp, was no. Kemp explains, “the evidence suggests that grammatical violations in the text messages of children, adolescents, and adults do not reflect a decline in grammatical knowledge.”
Kemp adds that “Young people seem well aware that different types of communication require different ways of writing. As long as young writers can maintain this awareness, then the violations of grammar common in digital communication need not be perceived as a reduction in writing skill, but rather as the addition of an alternative, casual style to the writer’s repertoire.”
If Kemp is right about TXTing helping writers to develop a casual style, Reg readers who text a lot, or whose kids do so, might imagine that the emanations of their thumbs make them suitable candidates for employment within these very walls (or maybe not - sub-ed). ®