Study Finds Texting Lingo Doesn't Harm Spelling

Posted on November 10, 2009

The Washington Post reports that a University of Alberta study found that texting probably does not mean students will become bad spellers. They also found that text lingo or "chatspeak" has its own set of emerging rules and that young people already seem to know the correct way to spell words in text language.

The study was proposed by a group of third-year psychology students who surveyed roughly 40 students ages 12 to 17. The participants were asked to save their instant messages for a week. At the end of the study, the participants completed a standardized spelling test.

Varnhagen said the researchers were pleasantly surprised by the results. The young people surveyed seem to know, without any sort of instruction, that there are "correct" ways of spelling in chatspeak. For instance, "probably" is abbreviated as "prolly," but never "proly"; "want to" becomes "wanna," never "wana" or "wanta"; "should've" is always "shoulda" and never "shuda."

"Kids who are good spellers [academically] are good spellers in instant messaging," she said. "And kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging."

It is good that texting does not appear to be harmful to spelling but it does seem possible that we will end up with a bunch of new words being used and that eventually the original spelling of the word could be forgotten.

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