Using heinous, vowel-averse text speak could actually be a sign that a child is a pretty good speller, according to research from the British Academy. Because you need a solid understanding of how words work properly to disembowel them so hideously, for children around eight to twelve years old it’s actually a good sign if they’re doing a lot of texting.
It’s all to do with ‘phonological awareness’ – a child’s ability to understand patterns of sound in speech like identifying words that rhyme, or being able to establish what a word is even with a letter removed. “Texting also appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which enables them to practice reading and spelling on a daily basis,” said Clare Wood, Reader in Developmental Psychology at Coventry University, who carried the research out.
Great news for the two-thirds of children under ten who now own a mobile phone, we guess. But we can’t get on board with textisms – just reading the list below brings out a firey rage in us – and with predictive text, email on your phone and cheap text message bundles now pretty much the norm, there’s just no need for it. Let’s face it, text speak is no substitute for proper spelling and good grammar.
A list of ‘textisms’ – so you know what to avoid:
Shortenings: cutting the end off a word, losing more than one letter, e.g. bro = brother.
Contractions: cutting letters, usually vowels, out of the middle of a word, e.g. txt, plz, hmwrk.
G clippings: cutting off only the final g in a word, e.g. goin, comin, workin, swimmin.
Other clippings: cutting off other final letters, e.g. I’v, hav, wil, com.
Symbols: using symbols, including emoticons, and x used symbolically, e.g. &, @, ;-), :-p, xxx.
Initialisms: a word or group of words is represented by its initial letter, e.g. tb = text back, lol = laughing out loud, gf = girlfriend.
Letter/Number homophones: a letter or number is used to take the place of a phoneme, syllable, or word of the same sound, e.g. 4, 2, l8r, u, r, c.
Non-conventional spellings: a word is spelled according to legitimate English phoneme-grapheme conversion rules, but not the conventional one used to spell the word, e.g. nite, cum, fone, skool.
Accent stylisation: a word is spelled as it is pronounced in casual speech, e.g. gonna, wiv = with, av = have, wanna, elp = help, anuva = another.
Missing apostrophes: left out either in possessive or traditional contraction form, e.g. dads, Im, Ive, cant.
[Image from apdk on flickr]