Do you understand the following messages? Can you decode them?
1. I watchd d moV 3 idiots lately. itz an amazn moV. itz bout r education sys wich kills students’ cr8tivity n maks em zombies. f ur nt a zombi woch d moV.
2. lnch w/o mutton S lk a shirt w/o a butN, za glutton.
You may wonder whether the above messages are in English. Yes, they are written in English text language. You may call it ‘sms language’ or ‘sms lingo’. The messages can be translated into plain English as below:
1. I watched the movie 3 idiots recently. It is an amazing movie. It is about our education system which kills students’ creativity and makes them zombies. If you are not a zombie, watch the movie.
2. Lunch without mutton is like a shirt without a button, said a glutton.
Most of us are comfortable sending messages in ‘sms lingo’. According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the term ‘lingo’ is defined as ‘the language and speech, especially the jargon, slang, or argot, of a particular field, group, or individual. Eg: Gamblers’ lingo.’
Is texting helping or hurting students’ writing skills? I gave messages written in sms lingo to my students and asked them to translate them into plain English. Though this is a fun activity, it helps them develop their spelling, punctuation and grammar. We can get our plain English messages translated into text messages and vice versa through www.lingo2word.com/translate.php
In the article Has Texting and Email Ruined Students’ Writing Skills?, Ronald E Riggio says, “Linguists are divided, with some seeing deterioration in writing skills that they attribute to text and email, and others believing that text messaging constitutes a different form of language. Australian schools are teaching students about text messaging and comparing its form and structure to written English. Treating texting as a different sort of language can have academic benefits to actually studying it: Students can learn more about syntax and grammar.”
Texting helps learners improve their writing skills. Students who are scared of composing a long message can be encouraged to write short messages regularly and once they gain confidence in writing they can be given practice in writing longer messages or blogs.
Reinders (2010) argues that “If one considers writing as any form of textual communication, it becomes clear that students actually write a lot. If students are not ready to write essays, they can practise with shorter texts to develop their writing skills.”