Critical Response

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“2B OR NOT 2B” by David Crystal

“2B OR NOT 2B” by David Crystal


Linguist David Crystal defends the modern act of texting, a popular phenomenon which has been debated among parents and academics for the last decade. Despite the widespread claim that frequent texters are destined to lose their learned language skills, Crystal believes texting may really enhance writing and spelling. He contends all the outrage over texting is for naught; texting is but a small part of our language history and will have but a small effect on language as a whole (Crystal, 2000).


An extraordinary number of doom-laden prophecies have been made about the presumed linguistic evils unleashed by texting. Sadly, its creative promise has been virtually ignored. But five years of research has at last started to dispel the myths. The most significant finding is that texting does not erode children's ability to read and write. On the contrary, literacy improves. The latest studies have found strong positive connections between the use of text language and the skills underlying success in standard English in pre-teenage children. The more abbreviations in their notes, the higher they scored on checks of reading and vocabulary. The children  who were better at spelling and writing used the most textisms. And the younger they received their first phone, the higher their scores (Douglass, 2005).

With regards to critical response, there are several distinctive features of the way texts are written that combine to give the impression of novelty, but none of them is, in fact, linguistically novel. Many of them were being used in chatroom interactions that predated the arrival of mobile phones. Some can be found in pre-computer informal writing, dating back a hundred years or more (Crystal, 2000).

The most obvious feature is the use of single letters, numerals, and symbols to represent ...
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