Slang And Icons In Text Messaging

University of Liverpool - Masters in Software Engineering

Does the use of contractions, slang and icons in text messaging and email signal the development of a new communication style, or just the death of appreciation of written language? Do the same or similar things happen with your language if it’s other than English? Please provide examples.

The beauty and appeal of the English language lies in its adaptability. It has come a long way since the Roman era when Latin words were incorporated with Gaelic and Germanic dialects to form what we call today the Old English. It has evolved almost beyond recognition and the advancement in technology has been responsible for it to a large extent. The printing press gave it a more standardized form and more recently the internet and the mobile phones have turned it upside down and inside out engendering an altogether different form that has English teachers and grammarians tearing out their hair in frustration. Doom-laden prophesies have predicted disaster, if not complete annihilation or mutation of the language as we know and use it. 

With the usage of electronic mail system, the practice of letter writing underwent a sea change. The format, delivery and even the usage of language needed alteration. It is now possible to send the same mail to numerous persons at the same time so the writer needed to exercise some caution. ‘Yours sincerely/ affectionately’ has replaced by ‘cheers/ regards/ love’ and the place and date details have been excluded. The important point is that the body of the letter has remained essentially the same. Similarly slangs, contractions, abbreviations and acronyms are an integral part of a language and they play an important role beyond crossword puzzles. They add rather than detract from it. 

John Humphrys calls texters vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbors eight hundred years ago. He inveighs against them for destroying it by pillaging punctuation, savaging sentences and raping the vocabulary; proclaiming that they must be stopped. (Humphrys, 2007). 

But even he concedes that it is a tall order. There are hundreds others who agree with him to some degree.

It is true that the rules are changing and they are doing so fast but if we look at the modern version as a form of dialect we would be able to understand the phenomenon of this change better. Just like any other dialect of English it is used by a group of speakers. One thing that differs, though, is that others were spoken first and written down later.

Netspeak, on the other hand, was written first and spoken second, if at all. The fact that it has developed and evolved since its inception is only indicative of the very nature of instant written communication between people. But the written word does not replace speech, any more than speech replaces gesture (Goody, 2007). Have you ever heard anyone speak out,” LOL!”? 

It is a sign of changing times that to rejoice World Poetry day in 2007, T-Mobile tried to discover the UK's first "Txt laureate" in a contest for the best romantic poem in SMS and the winner was Ben Ziman-Bright, a sixty-plus grandma and far away in India a film with the name KLPD -Kismet Love Paisa Dilli is released. 

The day is not far when the moviemakers would not need the tagline anymore.
For conclusion, I agree with Humphrys about text vandalism.

In addition, I have referenced to a video made about two of my favorite writers.  I think you will find it amusing as well as serious (Nicepeter, 2011). 


Nicepeter, 2011. Dr Seuss VS Shakespeare. Epic Rap Battles of History #12.[Online]. Available at: [Accessed on 12 January 2013].
Humphrys, John. 2007, ‘I h8 txt msgs: How texting is wrecking our language’ Mail Online, 24 September. Available from  [Accessed on 12 January 2013]
Goody, Jack, 1977. The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Ervin Hoxhaj, 2012. Book of Proceedings, The Influence of Instant Messaging Communication on Standard Written Language and Social Communication [Online]. Faculty of Foreign Languages, Tirana University.  Available at: <> [Accessed on 1 January 2013] p. 107-112.

These are articles from my masters in software engineering classes.
Elad Shalom,
CTO at


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Linked Files in Visual Studio 2010

Cloud Computing Advantages and Disadvantages

Protecting Personal Data