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Sunday, April 05, 2009


OMG, U Want Me to Spell This Out?

I had an interesting encounter with a student the other day. He came in to work with me on a paper for one of his classes. In particular, he wanted to show me all the things he remembered from past conversations and how hard he worked on each one. It alone was a proud moment, as his writing is improving from him trying so hard.

The proudest moment, as I feel many educator-types would see, was when he proclaimed he is getting better with avoiding contractions, like he's, it's, can't. The reason this is so important to write about is how he has eliminated these slips into casual writing - he is taking it to heart when he is texting his friends!

In short, the student goes into how his friends make fun of how long his texts are and how long they take to send, since giving up text shorthand. As he put it, the only way things were going to improve with his writing was if he went and continued the same rules to his cell phone/instant messenger texting too.

While he did slip in a few contractions still, the fact that he is trying so hard speaks something to the woe is the writing world since the advent of texting. These Gen-Y types can be mature enough to push for change too, especially when they realize that their U (You), LOL (lots of laughs or laughing out loud), etc. jargon is obfuscating their academic essays and befuddling some of their readers.

To me, this student's proactive stance shows there is still hope for a dual existence. Don't get me wrong; I am as guilty as charged for using my texting shorthand from days of instant messenger and social networking past, but as a non-cell phone texter and also a complete nerd, I always checked my ttyl's (talk to you later) and my brb (be right back) at the front door whenever I enter a classroom or hand in a term paper.

So, what is your opinion on this? Do you think this student is an exception to the rule? Do you see text jargon bleeding into professional work? Do you think there is nothing wrong with using both shorthand and fully spelled out lexicons as long as the reader knows what the abbreviation means? I would love to hear what you all think!


Anonymous Chloe Mays said...

When texting you should use abbreviations. IMO, LOL, ROTF, etc. Essays or formal writing requires that we spell things out and obey all the grammar rules. Side note - I interned last summer with a lawyer and noticed that business writing is a cross between formal essays and texting. In business, they want to get their point across in as few words as possible.

Chloe Mays

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Allena said...

Since my Blackberry acct is charged by the gig or something (I dunno, my hubs does it), I would be anoyed with spelled out texts.

Whether you SO or use text message language completely depends on the forum. Blogs, facebook, etc are generally informal (with some exceptions), and a writer should beable to switch it up for different audiences.

Thinking through your audience is one of the first steps in writing.

Your student has a right to practice however he wishes, but he certainly wouldn't be my text buddy. (lol)

8:15 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I write things out when I text, IM, or am on a social network. I get uber-annoyed with people who used abbreviations. "Prolly" is one the worst offenders since it doesn't take that much more to spell out "probably". Other terms like LOL or BTW or OMG I have no problem with.

As far as I'm concerned it depends on the audience and mode of communication. When speaking, for example, abbreviations can make the audience feel like they're not worth the time it takes to use the entire word. If you have time to say ASAP then you have time to say As Soon As Possible, PLEASE (and always add a please). When someone tells me to ASAP I immediately slow down. Unless it is a life or death situation, there is no need to use it.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Zook said...

When I taught high school biology, I had several students who turned in scientific research papers written in texting code. Despite my warning that it was not acceptable English for a written paper, only okay for text msg, many of the students couldn't seem to get back to writing words out. They had to make a strong conscience effort to write out words. But it also showed me who didn't proofread, who turned in rough drafts. It was frustrating for me as a teacher to see students writing abilities changing to a short shorthand that they couldn't stop from doing in a paper.

5:54 PM  

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