Is It 2B or Not 2B?
Over the years there has been a lot of controversy and debate regarding the phenomenon known as texting. For some, texting is the best thing that has happened to the technological world, and for others it is considered to be no more than a disgrace. Many people have yet to come to terms with the fact that technology is advancing rapidly and in ways that are sometimes hard to understand. With this comes criticism and negativity. David Crystal has his own opinion on the topic of texting and whether or not it negatively affects how humans communicate. In 2b or Not 2b, Crystal believes that texting has actually had many positive effects on human communication. David Crystal provides valid facts and simple truths on the topic of texting in today’s society and how it positively affects human communication.
David Crystal’s 2b or Not 2b discusses the controversial issue of abbreviations in text messaging and it’s effect on contemporary English. In the beginning of the article he provides quotations from well-known authors and scholars who have had nothing but negative things to say about texting and it’s long-term effects. For example, John Sutherland of University College London stated “texting is penmanship for illiterates” (335). This is only the beginning of the criticism. Crystal then proceeds to argue each negative criticism he has come across in regards to texting. He believes that shorthand texting improves literary skills, playing around with words is fun and educational and that words have been abbreviated for many centuries; this is not a new thing that should be surprising to anyone. Crystal believes that “English has had abbreviated words ever since it began to be written down” (339) and that this concept is impossible for some to grasp due to the rapid increase in people texting. But is texting really such a big problem?
As years pass our world changes, along with technology and the way people communicate, and abbreviate what they send over instant message. The language as we know is metamorphosing as new generation grows, not only with abbreviated texts, but with different forms and communicating language’s. This is the topic David Crystal approached with in his essay "2b or not 2b". He is depicting views of various professors and researches on how texting with mobile phones has lead to the decay of English as a language. Throughout the text Crystal shows his own opinion and how his article differs from Humphrey’s article, " I h8 txt msgs How texting is wrecking our language". Before people used to communicate through handwritten letters, typewriters, or books like novels to express their thoughts, it was an essential skill to communicate. But today, in a world filled with computers and keyboards and various applications like Microsoft Office to facilitate our writing and even correct our errors, do we really need to know how to write properly anymore? In the modern world where we use our phones and messages to communicate with the least amount of effort, short and concise text to get to the point regardless of punctuation, grammar or orthography, because In a fast living world where everybody seems to have less time, is there really room for linguistics?
According to John Humphrey's, a newspaper author mentioned in Crystal's essay, saying that texting is ruining our language. Ever since the mobile phone was introduced to the public and along the way to communicate with messages, companies have been using this invention to make the most profit of it by developing the Global System for Mobile Communications Network in the mid 1980's Messages at that time had a limited amount of characters, so the messages people wanted to be forward had to be short and concise. There was no room for orthography or grammar during the beginning of SMS, short message service. Texting as a trend rocketed in the 21st century and a new creative style of writing has emerged. Not only that people have been using abbreviations to forward the main point of the message, they also started to use this form of communication for entertainment purposes.
Crystal begins by discussing how others such as John Humphrey argue how texter’s are "vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbors 800 years ago" (pg. 335). Crystal criticizes John Humphreys article named " I h8 txt msgs", and mentions how texting is" wrecking our language" (336). In Crystal's article he argues for the benefit of messaging. He starts of by quoting Humphrey’s when he calls people who text "vandals" and mentions how texting is destroying the English language through pillaging our punctuations, saving our sentences, raping our vocabulary” (337). and goes of by saying that "they must be stopped" (336).
However, Crystal adds that “texting isn’t the only thing in history that was said to be associated with the devil” (336). He goes on to write, “people have been arguing that new technology would have disastrous consequences for language" (336). "Scares accompanied by the introduction of telegraph, telephone and broadcasting" (344). He goes on to question whether there has been another “linguistic phenomenon that has aroused such curiosity, suspicion, fear and confusion all at once". Understanding how texting can affect the way people communicate and write, because how could something like texting, which a few years ago no body heard about, cause such fascination and quarrel?
However Crystal believes that texting can improve children's ability to read and write rather than hinder their literacy as many people claim. He also argues that not all texting is done in abbreviated words. Complex messages and institutional messages are often texted in standard form of orthography. In his conclusion, Crystal states that, 'there is no disaster pending" (336). Crystal makes the point when he says "we will not see a new generation of adults growing up unable to write proper English” (344), the language as a whole will not decline" (345), which means that he is generally optimistic about texting. I support Crystal’s argument when he makes the point that texting is not a disaster, it is in the evolution of language that morphs the linguistic into the technology, how language changes over time as people of all races and languages form different ways of communicating over messaging” (341). Some people find it easier to write in abbreviations rather than write or say what they have to say completely.
In the article, Crystal believes that the percentage of abbreviated words people use when they text is negligible compared to the total number of texted words people send. According to his own text collection, the percentage of abbreviated words he uses to text is only 10%. That shows the long term impact of texting is tiny and it is not a disaster. Also he gives some examples of how people use texting to create new ways to write poetry and stories in short form. However, I don’t think texting can improve children’s literacy. In the article, Crystal cites latest studies from a team at Coventry University which have indicated that the more abbreviations in children's messages, the higher they scored on test of reading and vocabulary which he actually agrees with.
What I really liked about Crystals article was that he understood that texting has brought a whole new way of communication to the world. Crystal explains that even though texter’s use abbreviations throughout their messages, they make it clear enough so that the receiver can understand the message. He writes “there is no point in paying to send a message if it breaks so many rules that it ceases to be intelligible". Crystal also illustrates that he recognizes when texter’s send longer messages they tend to write in a more standard orthography. Crystal goes on to mention that “when messages are longer, containing more information, the amount of standard orthography increases". Though not all people who text or use instant messaging use abbreviations when they text, but stick to a more formal style, which makes total sense because today’s generation of texting is totally different from the older generation’s way of communicating.
For example my grandparent and parents did not text at all and didn’t know what it was or how to use it, and now they know and use it all the time to reach people. But with how people text now a days texting, messaging has become in a way a necessity for reaching people rather than calling, because calling isn’t cool to the younger generation. Rather people prefer texting and with the new technology, with phones, IPods, and I pads people have all the instant reaching capabilities, and texting capabilities right in their hand.
Many of our older generation now a days use smart phones and text people because it has become a way of life. I agree I say it is awesome that they have learned this communicating way. I also believe that the older generation actually learn in a way that it allows them to use their brain and just like a puzzle it stimulates their brain and keeps it working challenging them to use the applications on these texting, communicating devices. So I agree that texting is a useful and rather fast way to communicate with people. Though some people may not agree with me or David Crystal, and might agree with Humphreys and his ideology of texting. People often argue about the bad points of technology over our language and might say that it is an unsmart way to communicate with people. Which may or may not make sense, it makes sense that sometimes people would rather communicate without face to face contact.
Humphreys, of course is not alone in feeling this way, though his expression of contempt may be a bit extreme. I find it sometimes hard to complain about how frequently the language of texting finds its way into letters, essays, books, and text messages by substituting the letter, words, u for you, the number 2 for to, two, or too, and I even use these abbreviations sometimes. Its not hard to understand because more than a few of the people who text suggest that people who use texting abbreviations do so because they are lazy, or because it is popular with today’s society. Crystal makes a good argument when he says that is brought a new innovation on how people communicate with one another as he said, “texting has actually had many positive effects on human communication.” However Crystal believes that texting can improve children's ability to read and write rather than hinder their literacy as many people claim. My girlfriend even admitted that she'd stopped using in her text because she started using them in formal writing without even realizing it and we had a small debate about whether the language of texting is indeed " dumbing down the language', to quote her.
Crystal points out, however that texting is hardly the first technological advance to be accompanied by prophecies of doom for language. As he said “Even since the arrival of printing thought to be the invention of the devil because it would put false opinions into people's minds people have been arguing the new technology would have disastrous consequences for language" (336). What turned out to be unfounded scares accompanied the introduction of the telegraph, telephone, and broadcasting, which is hardly something with the power to destroy the infrastructure of any of the world's language. Crystal wants the reader know that with new technology comes great change such as texting, and some change may have good or bad out comes to who ever uses it.
What I enjoyed the most about Crystal's essay was his illustration of how the abbreviations people use in texting are nothing new, that they are, rather a further development of linguistic ' processes used in the past. How different for example is, lol or ttyl from the swak or "sealed with a kiss" that the girls I went to high school with often wrote at the end of letters or notes? Nor is it true that we are the first generation to worry that abbreviations such as those used in texting are somehow indicative of lower class sensibilities in 1711, Crystal points out how Joseph Addison inveighed against the abbreviations of his time through, pos for positive, for example, or incog for incognito. Crystal quotes no less a canonical writer than Jonathan Swift who thought that abbreviating words was a "barbarous custom".
I believe that the most fascinating paragraph in Crystal's article however is the one in which he talks about the growing body of evidence which suggests that texting help's rather than hander’s literacy. While this may at first seem counterintuitive, if you think about it, it makes sense though one has to first. While this may at first seem counterintuitive, if you think about it, it makes sense though you do first have to recognize that textisms are created through a systematic and rule governed process and are not random changes wrought willy-nilly on language by people who don’t know any better. Once you recognize that and I admit it is not self-evident; Crystal does a decent job of making it clear it is not hard to understand, I think, that someone who is proficient in text language is also going to be someone who is comfortable with language in general, understands how it works, and why and when and where it is appropriate and necessary to deviate from the standard.
I am not fully persuaded by Crystal’s argument I would need to read the studies he talks about, for example but he has convinced me that texting is not the simplistic linguistic phenomenon I used to think it was, and I am interested to hear how people react to the ways in which he takes on their own prejudices. I am also very aware that while his essay is a wonderful exploration of the linguistics of texting, he says next to nothing about its social and cultural implications beyond language. In everyday discussion today, for example, and in every discussion I believe that texting, SMS, type's of writing happen everywhere and everyday especially in classes, some of my friends talk about knowing someone whose boyfriend or girlfriend who was not far away at the time broke up with them by text. To me, that phenomenon is troubling, but it is also the subject of a very different post.