Friday, 1 June 2007

28th May

The tutorial this week was a good use of time to establish where I stood with the work I have done so far. It seems I have done almost all of the research needed to understand what it is I am looking at. There are only so many examples of text messages and arguments on the subject that I can collect before it gets repetitive. The fact seems to be that there are three groups of people.

The first group is of text-speakers who are mostly young people. This could be coincidence but probably isn't. Mobile phone companies target the younger, 'hip' generation. School pupils with hundreds of contacts from school will text each other all day, every day. There are even text therapy sessions available for those with an addiction to spending money on their phone for texting purposes. These younger users generally say that text-speak is quicker and easier. There was even a case of a 13 year old pupil who wrote an English essay in text-speak. The adults of this group are more inclined to text now and then but many of whom admit they use text-speak because it is quicker. They seem to accept text-speak as long as it is understandable and not overly abbreviated.

The second group is none-text-speakers, those who don't text and some English teachers. These people are of all ages and seem to be neutral to the changes in language due to texting. They are at ease with texting full words and simply choose not to use text-speak. Those who do not text are open to the change of the language because it walks hand in hand with the change of technology and information.

The third group is of texters, non-texters and many English teachers who are completely against the change for reasons which have not been given in their comments online. This group of people are again of all ages and are quicker to insult those who use text-speak than they are to outline their reasons for hostility. They generally argue the English language is beautiful and wonderful and spelling is important and meaningful and that text-speak is destroying the language. What is ironic is that in English language classes pupils are almost always taught about the changes in the English language. I myself remember being taught about the necessity for change in language. But when such change is affiliated with the younger generations it seems to be immediately stigmatised because of the apparent lack of understanding in younger people.

Reading an article online which pondered how clever young people were to have taken the language and modified it to fit it into 160 characters was very interesting as it was true. The way young people did this illustrated their grasp of the phonetics of the language and how easily rules could be bended whilst retaining the meaning of the information.

Up to this point I have researched the subject. I have looked at it from different angles - in terms of history, in regards to the current English examination specifications, in conjunction with foreign languages which are 'suffering' the same changes. French, the most self-conscious language of all, has even been reported of having been written in text-speak by some users. I have collected examples of abbreviations and scrutinised text-speak itself. I have read articles and comments on the use of text-speak and kept an honestly unbiased stance. I say unbiased because I myself do not use text-speak in its fullest and, as I said before, am enthusiastic to retain 'proper spelling'. Furthermore I understand the outcome of this development in text-speak is out of my hands and thus I merely wish to commentate its progress and meaning. I have acknowledged the link between text-speak and technology (not youth culture). I have analyzed the typeface apparent in text messages and its possible uses. I visually expressed words and phrases on the subject of text-speak and am beginning to pursue the modification of information in order to compress it without losing detail (as text-speak does with its 160 character limit).

What remains now is to question text-speak. After all it is only succesful as far as I know as an abbreviator of casual vocabulary. What are you doing tonight? Where are we going to meet? How are you? These questions are typical of text messages. They are informal because text messaging is an informal medium of communication. Text-speak can deal with such casual vocabulary because the words are short and the frequency of their use is enormous. I doubt text-speak could be applied to essays on political history or business practice and thus there may be room for experiment here as the final work. Finding essays/articles etc which range in formality of vocabulary may difficult. The subject of these articles will be significant - so I will have to decide what they should be about. Putting an essay on a general history of the english language into text speak may be rewarding as a subtle expression of my subject. I am assuming now that more heavily worded essays would be more difficult to abbreviate but I will have to try it out to be sure - hopefully I am wrong. If I am not wrong then text-speak may have to be passed off as a simplifier of the language with limited ability to simplify longer words.

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