Working in a laboratory, as I do, abbreviations and acronyms are a way of life. Seriously, if we had to enunciate all of those chemical names, procedures and tests work would grind to a halt. Even so I find myself despising TXT speak, reducing otherwise comprehensible words to single letters, whole sentences becoming a jumble of alphanumeric sequences drives me crazy. And what’s up with “BayB” it’s the same letters in a different order, what do you gain by that?! (Deep Breath)
Even so, perhaps I’m overly harsh on users of this emerging dialect, perhaps we should consider it properly as a new language and users as early adopters deserving of respect for the mental agility it requires. Or at least we shouldn’t stereotype those fluent in TXT speak as illiterate miscreants with no respect for the English language. A study submitted to the journal Reading and Writing looked 40 subjects in the 12 – 17 age bracket to see if there was a correlation between use of TXTese and poor spelling ability in regular English.
Turns out, there isn’t. In fact those that used more abbreviations tended to be better spellers over all. In direct contradiction of the critics (including me) poor spellers of English also tended to make more mistakes in TXTese (though how this was determined I don’t know).
What does this mean for the future? Will we all descend into a perverted shorthand of truncated words? I doubt it. This new version of English may or may not flourish as time goes on but being a product of necessity due to character limits for SMS I suspect it may very well decline in use again once technology catches up to the ease of other communication methods. Perhaps future linguists will devote treatises to the rise and unfortunate fall of a promising new language. Perhaps not.