One conflict that has been produced by the surge in mobile phone use is a rift between people who like to talk and people who prefer to text. Sending text messages has become a medium of choice for mobile phone users.
Young people are increasingly prone to texting and shy away from making calls, which are more direct – but also less permanent forms of communication. Ironically, the speed at which instant messaging or texting takes place means that mistakes and shorthands are common: but we often let each other get away with them because we know what they mean.
Many teachers in primary and secondary schools have expressed concern at the number of children whose literacy levels are dropping; and who are not even able to write by hand, so accustomed are they to computers, tablets and mobiles.
Some texting terms have even made it into common parlance: ‘lol’ (laugh out loud), ‘omg’ (oh my god), pls (please). The craze for shortening words, absorbed from texting, is also changing how we speak – ‘amaze’ for ‘amazing’, ‘totes’ for totally, ‘blates’ for blatantly: these are all largely teenage usages that are becoming mainstream.
Text messaging is alienating English speakers from their native tongue and confusing non-natives who wish to learn the language. It promotes mis-spelling. English is a beautiful tongue with a rich literary history which does not deserve to be overshadowed by phrases like ‘c u l8r’ and ‘megalolz’.
As any linguist knows, language is not a static thing. Change and development is the one constant in life, and the changing sounds and phrases of a language are merely reflections of the changes in a particular society. You cannot expect the English language to remain the same while the world around us – and particularly the way we communicate – is subject to so much variation.