Teenagers’ perceptions of SMS Afrikaans in print advertisements

  • Elvis Saal


The technological constraints of the mobile phone gave rise to a texting (SMS)
language with very distinctive linguistic features. This study examines whether SMS Afrikaans could be employed as language of advertising in the print media. Drawing on the Communication Accommodation Theory by Howard Giles (Gallois, Ogay and Giles 2005: 131) and the theoretical model on message form by Hoeken, Swanepoel, Saal and Jansen (2009), this paper examines how teenagers would perceive the writer and the message when print advertisements are written in SMS Afrikaans. Two different print advertisements were used: a product advertisement and a health communication message. These two print advertisements (in Standard Afrikaans) were ‘translated’ by teenagers themselves into their own texting language. Two separate experimental studies were conducted for the two types of advertisements. In each of the two experimental studies, the teenagers compared the standard Afrikaans version of the advertisement with the corresponding SMS Afrikaans version with regard to perceptions of the writer and the message. This study found that texting language did not have any effect on how the message was received. With regard to the perception of the writer, statistical effects were only found in the case of the health communication advertisement: Participants perceived the writer of the texting language advert to be a teenager. It was, however, the writer of the Standard Afrikaans advert who was perceived to be more socially attractive. From the coding of the responses to the open questions, the use of texting language (as opposed to Standard Afrikaans) in the product advertisement emerged as a more salient cue for shaping evaluations about the writer.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614