Journal for Language Teaching

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Textese and Secondary School Learners’ Formal Written English: Is the Media Hype about Language Decay Justified?

H Steyn, R Evans


This article investigates whether the media hype about the supposedly detrimental effect of textese on teenagers’ formal English skills is justified. It is posited that this younger generation has reached the ‘point of saturation’ because they are so accustomed to seeing textisms in informal writing contexts and will therefore struggle to identify them in a formal writing context. A postpositivist research philosophy was assumed coupled with a quantitative research design. A purposefully designed proofreading protocol allowed for the collection of empirical data from South African secondary school learners with English first-language proficiency from the upper-middle class socio-economic sphere in the Pretoria metropolis. The results indicate that the 288 respondents did not struggle to identify textisms implying that the target population had a sufficiently precise grasp of register to discredit media claims that textese is akin to language decay.

Keywords: Point of Saturation, Register, SMS, Standard English, Textese, Texting
AJOL African Journals Online