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  • Hello you. I'm a 38-year old MSc student, studying Advanced Computer Science at Sussex University. I'm especially interested in Internet and mobile software, sensors and pervasive computing, user interfaces, and the process of developing great software.

    Before that I spent 11 years running Future Platforms, a software company I co-founded which makes lovely things for mobile phones, and which I sold in 2011.

    I read a lot, write here, and practice Aikido and airsoft. I live in Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of the UK, with two cats and a clown.

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« Being Dead Is Mint! | Main | Conflicts of Interest in the SMS Value Chain »

December 29, 2003

Comments

James Burt

Interesting point. But certainly not limited to 'non-technical' users. How many power-users avoid certain new technologies because they preceive them as removing control? (I have seen this with Linux experts having to consider MS solutions, for example).

Personally, I had suspicions about IDEs that turned out to be a little misguided before I discovered Eclipse.

Esther

Now that Lynne Truss has rendered grammar trendy (if only my students were listening), perhaps that also has something to do with writing in full - many people seem to think that 'we' should all be doing it properly, because to do things properly makes us 'better' (horrible social construct, that one). Certainly my mother and most of the other academics (with one exception, and she's one of the Bright/on Young Things)

Personally, I hate text speak because I really do feel it is Orwellian - certainly there's a decrease in actual conversation and expression by using textual language because it is a degraded language form. Having said that, I think a lot of text snobbery comes from peoples' inability to realise that succinct words or phrases can be as powerful (often more so) than long words or phrases (this goes back to my 'we know' post about the 'meaning' and interpretation of words being different. You don't have to write epics, in fact they are far less powerful, than shorter and often more conversationally condusive messages. And i'm sure many people the world over want ot take up the degraded language argument (the English language being a degraded hybrid amongst them).

Here's a muse though, and something I wanted to ask you. Have you started writing longer texts as a result of your mobile screen becoming larger/displaying more characters at once? I have because my 'page' has suddenly got bigger. On the flip side, the maximum numbers of characters I can send in one text has apparently decreased (although I've never tested it). Is this to do with marketing which wants us write more conversational texts but at the same time to encourage more reciprocal texting?

Tom Hume

Interesting. A few thoughts:

I know what you mean about text-speak Orwellian. But is this bad because it's related to some of the other themes in 1984, or because we just associate it with those other themes because of the infamy of the book? I mean, I can't see anything off the top of my head that's a priori bad about abbreviations or the rapid modernisation/rationalisation of language, except that it's what happened in 1984, so must be a bad thing...

Succinctness - yep, agree. Wordiness is often a substitute for clarity of thought or a strong underlying message imho. What's that quote from Einstein? "Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler".

Longer texts? I'm not sure really, it's been so long that I've had a large screen phone that I forget how long they used to be. Certainly having predictive text made my messages longer, cos it's quicker to write them.

Not sure why the number of characters you can send in one text has decreased - it should still be 160, as it is in most places. How many can you send now?

Esther

It was 420, now it's 160.

I don't so much mean the construction of doublethink as a language, rather the shortening of vocabulary in textual language in the same way that doublthink has banned certain words. So we get double plus good (literally voiced in text as 'gd!!!'). I really take objection to the ways in which it encourages laziness of spelling, and unlike shorthand, it limits the possibilities of things that can be said. Also, I've found the increasing amount of slang / curtailed text creeping into my students' essays disturbing - peopel are genuinely starting to lose their grammatical construction through it. I think the most obvious example of this is the piece of work set for first years last term, which was to rewrite Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' speech. after the usual slew of reservoir dogsalike, several were in text language. Yes, this has been parodied in newspapers, but the limitation of language struck me - I didn't think that any of them succeeded because textual language does not provide a complex enough word base to express the conflicting attitudes of the soliloquy, which is, after all, one of the most over-analysed pieces of English Literature and therefore has a well recognised heteroglossic (multi-voiced, often as a result of other voices after that of the author) structure.

2b r nt 2b. thtist ?

Tom Hume

If it was 420 before, your old phone would just split your message across a number of texts. So if you sent 161 characters you'd be charged for 2 text messages... you may find that when you hit the 160 limit on your new handset it automatically lets you send more and splits messages in a similar way.

I can see what you mean about the laziness in spelling, but that's kind of the point of text: everything non-essential in both presentation (i.e. spelling and grammar) and content (i.e. smalltalk and social niceties) gets thrown off the wagon in an effort to get a message across as quickly as possible.

Not sure if I see how shortening individual words removes the possibilities of what can be expressed with those words, though I'd agree that text sentences leave more to the imagination of the reader to decipher.

The effects of text on general grammatical construction: yep, I agree, but surely any medium has this sort of effect. I mean, Powerpoint encourages 4-5 word summaries of ideas rather than proper expression of them; word processing encourages writing and rewriting of sentences on-the-fly (as opposed to proper planning then writing which I would imagine was necessary in The Days Before Word Began.

Text is more of an issue than these other examples thanks to its popularity I guess. But we're pissing into the wind by complaining about it, aren't we? Or is there anything which you think could be done to prevent it having these effects (other than compulsory mutilation for displays of poor sentence construction)?

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Lady Nice Taneo

i read through the messages posted, and i am interested to know whether there are other english teachers around here.im currently working on a study on the effects of SMS use (or text messaging) on the grammar of high schoolers and i would really like to ask for some help from anyone who have broad information on the topic. for any feedbacks message me at [email protected]. nice site you have here.

khristoffer mahilom

i am a student of polytechnic university of the philippines and wish to conduct a study of the effects of texting (sms) to spelling and grammar ability of the sms user. could you give me a list of reference of standard test for determining the spelling ad grammar ability of an individual. thanks.

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