TONY DIVER: In defence of text speak

Columnist Tony Diver ANL-140328-091912001
Columnist Tony Diver ANL-140328-091912001
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If i wrote this artcl in txt lik this, u could probly still undrstnd it. It might not be something that you’re too familiar with, but it doesn’t take a linguistic genius to figure out where the odd vowel is missing, or where the stresses are in a sentence with an absence of adequate punctuation.

That’s not what you would have thought, given the vicious attacks on us teens’ most prized verbal possession – slang, and its virtual equivalent ‘text speak’. Literary critics decry the very idea of shortening of language on a screen, the most popular argument against it being that it damages and devalues English.

I’m struggling, however, to see the difference between a hatred of text speak and technophobia. Unless you speak in Queen’s English over a bleary-eyed breakfast to your other half, you’re probably also a victim of the horrendous crime of shortening. For some reason there’s much more of a problem when tech-savvy Tweeters and texters translate that online than there would be if they just contracted in speech.

As the world gradually gets tapped out on to the internet, it’s only natural that we see people shortening when communicating virtually. Speaking online is only useful as far as it convenient and understandable, which text speak is – as far as I can tell. The argument about a destruction of ‘real’ language falls down when you consider that people have to know what they are shortening to accurately do so.

The other pillar of criticism is the idea that young people then fail to adapt language in more formal situations. It’s the patronising assumption that someone would write a CV or exam paper in ‘text speak’, even when the usual constraints of a 140 character tweet don’t apply. You’d think a degree of common sense is employed by most.

So, God Be With You, reader. Or as most sensible people would say: goodbye.