Home » Opinion » Do Chat Abbreviations Affect our Grammar?

Do Chat Abbreviations Affect our Grammar?

Screenshot_2013-10-21-10-49-56-1By Eustace Dunn

In a world of text messaging and chatting especially in the social networks these days where people now use short forms of texts to convey their messages, who cares whether it has any effect on them. Provided it passes on the messages they intend, not minding whether the recipient understands these abbreviations. Even if it’s not understood, they are ready to explain what it means and then one may not be able to resist following the band wagon. These are high profiled semantics.

In recent times, there have been lots of arguments on whether or not there is any effect of the use of abbreviations and certain acronyms in text messaging on our English grammar. An Acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name much like an abbreviation or text shortcut, for instance, acronyms like: “PAL” said to mean Parents Are Listening, to indicate to the chat recipient that they cannot talk at the moment because of the presence of their parents; “LOL” which means laughing out loud or which could also mean “lots of love” depending on the context, etc.

An article published on ehow.com says that according to an unscientific poll conducted by Edutopia.org, 50% of the 1028 respondents felt texting is harming students’ writing and grammar. In the same poll 20% thought that text messaging may have some impacts on students’ writing but they do not think it is a major problem; 27% felt texting was not a negative influence.

However, in a recent private chat with an English lecturer, he lamented on how text messaging and chatting has affected the spelling abilities of the generality of students especially in our Nigerian educational system. This is true and it’s all over the world today. Some of the university professors from the Western World also believe that “the habitual use of poor grammar is leading to a growing number of students who cannot pass Basic English”. The fact is that even if you think you know the right spelling for a word, as soon as you buy into the idea of text messaging with short forms probably because you are lazy to type many words, or for the sake of being speedy enough to reply chats immediately, it saturates you. You consistently use them and then the thoughts of them get proliferated in you. Whenever you call for the real spelling, the words laugh at you because you no longer remember them for that moment. Sometimes in your written letters, articles, or in any write-up, don’t you mistakenly use the text and chat lingoes? Of course we all do.

In an online article by a freelancer, Vincent Madrone, he quoted a study published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project entitled “Writing, Technology and Teens” that said that the habitual use of the informal grammar used in texting means that poor spelling, sentence structure and syntax are becoming the standard for written communication. According to an article in Canada`s Globe and Mail newspaper entitled “Texting, Twitter contributing to students’ poor grammar skills”  it said that the age of texting and instant messaging is not just harming the grammar skills of college students, it’s killing it. The rate of students who cannot pass Basic English grammar tests is climbing at an alarming rate, close to 30percent in a survey done at Waterloo University in Canada. Even students who had good grades in high school are having troubles with Basic English grammar, according to the article. The article links the decline in proper grammatical skills to the shortcuts and abbreviations used in text and instant messages.

Some of the short forms are as follow: AFAIK As far as I know, A/S/L? Age/sex/location; B4N Bye for now; BFN Bye for now; BL Belly laughing; BRB Be right back ; BTW By the way; BWL Burst With Laughter; CU See you;  CUL See you later or CUL8ER See you later; DIKU Do I know you?; EOM End of message;  EOT End of thread (meaning: end of discussion); F2F Face to face; FAQ Frequently-ask question(s); G2G Got to go; GA Go ahead; GAL Get a life; GOL Giggling out loud; HTH Hope this helps; IAC In any case; IC I see; IDK I don’t know; ILU or ILY I love you; IM Immediate/Instant message; OMG Oh my God; JIC Just in case; JK Just kidding; LOL Laugh(ing) Out Loud; LMAO laughing my a** out; LRF Little Rubber Feet (the little pads on the bottom of displays and other equipment) LTM Laugh to myself LTR Long-term relationship; LULAB Love you like a brother; LULAS Love you like a sister; MUSM Miss you so much; POOF:: Goodbye (leaving the room); POS Parent over shoulder (change the topic); ROR Raffing out roud (English for “laughing out loud”); ROTFL Rolling on the floor laughing; ROTFLMAO Rolling on the floor laughing my a** off; ROTFLMAOWPIMP Rolling on the floor laughing my a** off while peeing in my pants; ROTFLMBO Rolling on the floor laughing my butt off… and so many others which I may not have even heard of.

It’s unequivocal that exactly the same way that our using slangy words affects the way we express ourselves, the practice of texting makes us accustomed to communicating with broken fragments of information that are not properly formed sentences or statements. When it comes time to writing professionally or academically, it is difficult to stop this habits from slipping into the work, as they have been patterned into the way we express ourselves and may seem normal to us but it’s not in any way normal. In essence, I will advise that we have to be careful with the way we use all these short forms so that they don’t affect our good grammar usage.

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