R riting sux

Since the inception of the text message, its burgeoning popularity has taken the world of communication by storm. Teenagers, college students and business workers alike now seem to almost constantly be in tune with the world through their increasingly sophisticated mobile devices.

This effective tool for correspondence has also engendered its own kind of shorthand for the English language as a way of making the transmission of messages more convenient and efficient.

Along with the advantages of instant communication, however, come some negative repercussions. Students in particular seem to be experiencing a tremendous lapse in developing their writing skills as they have grown up using emoticons and abbreviations on a regular basis. This overtly colloquial style is now permeating their more formal writing assignments, preventing students from mastering the complex dynamics of the English language.

Sharon Russell, who has been an English instructor at Pierce College in Washington for 14 years, said in a 2008 interview, “I've had students turn in papers where it read, ‘ur’ instead of ‘your’ spelled out. They try to have texting part of formal writing.”

It seems ludicrous that students would not know the difference between an informal shortcut and the original word by the time they were at the collegiate level; more realistically, they probably are at least aware of the distinction but have simply become so accustomed to texting dialect from the time they were teenagers that this vernacular has become firmly engrained.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 64 percent of teenagers they interviewed admitted to incorporating text language into their writing.

These young adults are so habituated to texting while they go about their daily activities that writing is rarely something they focus on by itself. Thus, when they are put in a situation where they have few distractions, they automatically revert to the type of colloquialisms with which they are comfortable.

Furthermore, texting has caused students to write hastily and not consider the best manner in which to communicate their ideas; with their principal concern being to finish hashing out their thoughts as soon as possible, the quality of their ideas also is also diminished.

Russell later added, “It causes critical thinking to go away. Texting takes away that thoughtful piece that should be in writing. Students write too fast and don't think about what they're writing.”

Some might contest that since computers have the capability to automatically correct basic grammar and spelling mistakes, such a societal shortcoming is of no pressing concern.

However, the same Pew Research Center study discovered that 65 percent of the interviewed students write their school assignments by hand. For in class assignments, then, students will find themselves essentially trapped by their own habitual jargon.

Even with having technology as a resource for fixing errors, such amelioration is artificial and does nothing to truly impart an understanding of the nuances of the English language.

Reach Julie at julianna.roberts@asu.edu

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