Texting literacy… What is it?


Located between speech and writing, netspeak has now taken on a life of its own as a new linguistic register (Baron, 2008; Crystal, 2011). Opinions on netspeak are varied and abundant. Even in the classroom, it cannot be avoided and affects us. As Kemp (2011) notes in her review of empirical studies of texting, there is actually a positive correlation between students’ use of textspeak and their standard literacy skill: after all, to bend language rules you have to know the rules to begin with (Crystal, 2008; Lenhart et al., 2008). This can be to our advantage as language teachers and we could easily implement codeswitching activities. Such an approach would train our students to determine when, where and how to switch into and out of textspeak. However, there’s a danger that if students use textspeak in inappropriate contexts, it may be seen as signaling rebelliousness or, worse still, sloppiness and lack of education (Baym, 2010), hence our need to help them become texting literate.



On completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define key concepts pertaining to texting literacy
  • understand and explain the stakes of netspeak for language learners
  • select resources for the classroom and design texting literacy tasks for your students


What is Texting Literacy?


Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum (2014: 9) define texting literacy as

“the ability to communicate effectively in netspeak or textspeak (also known as txtspk)”.
My summr hols wr CWOT, Times Higher Education
Useful links


About texting literacy


Speaking in ways commonly used to converse in text on the internet. Including but not limited to: the (often unnecessary) abbreviation of words, acronyms special characters (@,~), numbers (l33tsp34k), *actions*, /mecommand, “ooc” and other RP references, emotes, ASCII, Real or Pseudo Programming Code, and HTML tags.

Textspeak (txtspk) or SMS language

Just like netspeak, textspeak (also known as txtspk, txto, texting language, txt lingo, SMSish, txtslang, txt talk) refers to the abbreviations and slang used with mobile phone text messaging. Three features of early mobile phone messaging encouraged users to use abbreviations:

  • Text entry was difficult, requiring multiple key presses on a small keypad to generate each letter;
  • Messages were limited to 160 characters, and
  • It made texting faster

Up to recently, the popular use of text messaging on mobile phones seems to have made the shortening of words much more common than ever before. However, mobile devices now feature predictive text tools, making the texting process smooth and intuitive: users can simply start typing a word and predictive text will appear.



Source/attribution: Digilanguages            Author: Alexandre Jacquot

Chatsprache wird natürlich auch im Deutschen genutzt. Auf Schulgeschichte(n) findet ihr einen interessanten Blogpost mit dem Titel “‘Ich liebe dich bis morgen’: Was machen SMS und Chat mit unserer Sprache”. Der Artikel thematisiert, ob die beliebten SMS-Kürzel unsere Sprache verändern.

Auf GermanBlogs gibt es ein SmS-Wörterbuch, das verschiedene Kürzel erklärt.

Dass zu viele Sprachkürzel auch manchmal nerven, thematisiert auch Jaspers HdL-Song. Hier das Video:

Ecco materiali aggiuntivi sull’uso degli SMS in italiano


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