Texting: A New Register or Style in the L2 Curriculum?

Bonnie Reimer

The blog is somewhat related to the interesting perspective Melissa brought to texting last week.  Since I have some slightly different issues and perspectives to share, I thought it would be better to post a new blog rather than comment.

A couple years ago, I was teaching paragraph writing to a low intermediate ESL class of adult newcomers from various countries. One of the students, who had been in Canada almost a year, had recently started the level and was just beginning to write compound sentences, so his assignment was to write a paragraph of about 75-100 words incorporating both simple and compound sentences. At the time, we had not covered register or style, but I was still quite taken aback when this Afghani male in his 30s emailed me the paragraph completely in textese, some of which I could not decipher. This learner was able to clearly read the paragraph to me though he had difficulty expressing his writing in a more formal style. This was the first and only time I had received a writing sample in textese although I occasionally receive writing with abbreviations and symbols. I had hoped to get some input from my colleagues, but this had never happened in any of their classes.

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“What is texting doing to language?” Suprasegmentals and acronyms in English texting

By Melissa J. Enns

In our last class, we talked about some effects of globalization on language. In the course of the discussion, a question was raised as to how expressive one actually can be when using mobile keyboards with predictive text. Based on my experience, I would argue that despite the limitations imposed by predictive text and autocorrect, “text speak” is a phenomenon in which (in particular) young people enact identities through creative use of acronyms and techniques to achieve the effects of suprasegmentals such as intonation and stress (see O’Grady and Archibald (2009) below). For copyright and privacy purposes, the following examples are my adaptations of the types of text samples I have seen, not word-for-word quotations.

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