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Language of Texting

Are text messages and IMs killing the English language? Your former English professor may have thought so, citing the common use of abbreviations like “LOL” as a sign of the “dumbing down” of our culture and perhaps of the coming apocalypse. However, experts who study the history of language are more inclined to see SMS-speak (also known as “computer mediated communication” or CMC for short) as part of the natural evolution of the English language.

For example, Sali Tagliamonte, linguistics professor at the University of Toronto, told the Toronto Star that complaints about CMC are no more than the linguistic version of “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”  She says:

“People have always complained about the kids’ use of language. But there are never going to be any changes in language, made voluntarily, that impede understanding. The kids are further ahead in language exchange than older people.”

According to Tagliamonte, people start using new words primarily because they fill a need – in this case, the need to communicate using a keyboard as quickly and concisely as possible. Read more