SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Mobile phone text-message abbreviations and simplifications are not ruining our spelling, but they do take much longer to read and understand than conventional English, a small Australian study has shown.
University of Tasmania lecturer Nenagh Kemp asked 55 undergraduate students to compose, and then to read aloud, text messages in English and in "textese."
While students were significantly faster using textese, it took almost half the number of students twice as long to read these messages aloud than messages written in proper English.
The students also made more errors reading the textese messages compared to the ones written in English.
"It's quicker to write in textisms, but when you go on to read it, it took people longer. As skilled adult readers, we're used to reading full words and sentences, so it is harder for us to decipher," Kemp, a psychology lecturer who specializes in language use, told Reuters.
Kemp said her research showed that despite the popular belief that textese is ruining spelling, it actually does not reflect literary skills, at least in adults.
She said that an awareness of sound structure and grammar was significantly linked to the ability to decipher some textese.
"It's fine to use textese on a mobile phone, as it saves you time, but you have to make sure your reader understands it," she added. "And don't let it creep into your emails, student essays or job applications. Keep the boundaries."
(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Belinda Goldsmith)