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5.23: Text Message

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    Text messaging,\(^{142}\) or texting, is a method of communication in which short text messages are exchanged using mobile phones.


    The abbreviations and slang associated with text messaging is referred to as textese. The development of textese is often discussed with respect to its history and its parallel development with internet slang as part of internet linguistics. There have been several cases where textese has been used outside of text messages.

    In 2003, a 13-year-old student in Scotland handed in an essay written entirely in textese. In 2006, New Zealand’s Qualification Authority announced the use of textese would be permitted on national exams. A study by the Pew Research center shows that teens who own cell phones are significantly more likely to incorporate textese into their school writing than teens who do not own cell phones. Furthermore, authoritative reference guides, such as the AP Stylebook and the Merriam Webster Dictionary, also include textese.

    Impact of Textese\(^{143}\)

    The impact of textese has also been described as a natural phenomenon. For centuries, people have been innovating language.

    “But it is merely the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative and to adapt language to suit the demands of diverse settings. There is no disaster pending... In texting what we are seeing, in a small way, is language in evolution.” – David Crystal, 2b or Not 2b

    One study of children ages 10 to 12 found positive correlation between the use of textese and literacy. Other studies have simply shown that there is no negative correlation.

    Even with these studies, some sources, such as the Former National Writing Project Executive Director Richard Sterling, feel that students are simply not given enough credit. Students themselves agree that they know when it is appropriate to use textese in their communications.


    • What have you learned about texting from your friends’/family’s text messages? Which ones are the most effective?
    • Do we have to “read” text message differently than other genres? What do we have to analyze that’s different?

    \(^{142}\)"Lentis/Sociology of Texting." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 23 Aug 2014, 15:09 UTC. 31 Oct 2021, 14:09 <>.

    \(^{143}\)For more information on how popular culture really doesn’t affect literacy, check out the Popular Culture chapter.

    This page titled 5.23: Text Message is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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