Study at the University of Toronto says text messaging helps with grammar

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

A study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that teenagers demonstrate a strong command of grammar in their text messaging.

The study found that while informal forms such as acronyms like "lol" (laughing out loud) are used in text messaging, more formal language constructs that are not usually used in spoken language were also used in messaging. For instance, the word "said" was used in messaging instead of "was like", a common informal spoken phrase.

The study found that instant messaging language does mirror patterns in speech, but also uses constructs from a wide range of diction.

Prof. Sali Tagliamonte, a professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto, said parents and teachers shouldn't be concerned that this new medium is corrupting young people's grammar. "I don't think parents have to worry, because they're really showing that they are creative and that they have a mastery of the language. They are not using ruinous language," he said. "What these kids are doing is showing us that they have a really good command of the English language, so much so that I was really blown away by how fluidly they operate," he added.

The research was presented today at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Association of Canada and the United States.