Texting: Why All the Fuss?, David Crystal (p. 359)

This article discusses many of topics related to the functionality, literacy, and nonverbal suggestions provided through the digitally written rhetoric found in the text messages we send every single day from our phones to our best friends, family, and coworkers.

David Crystal is a British linguist who is internationally known as a leading authority on languages, mainly English. He describes texting as “another variety of language” which is constantly evolving in the digital society that we live in. Prophecies about the linguistic evils of texting were listed in the article as such: texting uses new and nonstandard spelling which will ultimately destroy children’s ability to spell, punctuate, and capitalize correctly and it is implied that they will somehow manage to transfer these new habits into the rest of their school assignments. This will end in the rise of a generation who grows up unable to write proper English.

If this sort of a generation existed I imagine that because they are incapable of writing proper English then they probably wouldn’t be able to read it correctly either. It might looked something like the video below taken from a Key & Peele skit on Comedy Central.

Key & Peele, Substitute Teacher, 2012

That illustration might be a little dramatic but according to these so called “prophecies” I have a strong opinion to both agree and disagree. I agree because it is a valid point that makes logical sense. The more students text in abbreviations and code the less they are able to speak or write well. However, on the other hand, I text every single day and even with the struggle of not knowing how to spell something or even forgetting there is an auto correct feature. The same feature which is programmed in to Microsoft Office Word that pretty much students of all ages use now a days to type up their assignments.

After reading this article in its’ entirety I realized that this kind of argument is obsolete. Texting has become more beneficial to language than sending emails because it creates and changes and evolves the language we use every day. Just think about it… If we were always staying stagnant and not learning or growing then would we ever really go anywhere? How would we evolve?

We wouldn’t.

Language is not something objective. It is subjective and can be changed very easily today due to digital writing like texting and tweeting.

Please note: Twitter has 140 character limits in order for users to post a tweet. This includes hashtags and tagging people in your post. This creates the need to abbreviate and shorten language that can still be understood. It also leads to trending new terms used in slang and the social media communities.

Anyway, I’d like to make the point that when text messaging first started there weren’t unlimited plans and the few cell phone providers that had them were asking for an arm and a leg in payments every month. That led to people shortening their messages in to 160 character messages while trying to say as much as possible in one text message as so not to just waste them.

Now a majority of people have unlimited everything plans and family plans that are much cheaper. We are actually reverting back to typing out full words and sending more than one message at a time because of it. We don’t think about it and we don’t really care half of the time.

The last point that I would like to make is that we don’t have to worry about how people punctuate or spell but we need to pay attention to the rhetorical thought behind a message. Not everyone interprets everything the same way based on their mood or experience one person may see something to the left and another person may see something to the right. Please watch the video to see an example of what I’m trying to communicate.

Key & Peele, Text Message Confusion, 2014

So basically, my essential point that I would like you all to take away from this article review is that there is no fuss. People accept text message language for what it is and just like any other form of writing everyone has their own style, diction, and voice. You have to learn a person’s voice and style in text messaging to understand their language usage.


Clark, Virginia, and Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa. Language Awareness. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.

Comedy Central. “Key & Peele – Substitute Teacher” Online video clip. YouTube, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

Comedy Central. “Key & Peele –Text Message Confusion – Uncensored” Online video clip. YouTube, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

5 thoughts on “Texting: Why All the Fuss?, David Crystal (p. 359)”

  1. Okay, first off, I love those two Key & Peele sketches, they are hilarious! I definitely agree with your stance on the evolution of language. The concept that some people who believe that shorthand messaging and texting is a bad thing don’t understand is that people are intelligent enough to know when and where to use those kind of language devices. People typically don’t just write essays and papers in the same way that they message friends or tweet or even talk via online games. It’s a system of dialects that is widely understood by most people to each have their own use at certain times and places. That’s like going to Japan and trying to speak French to the native people of the country; everyone knows French isn’t a common language there, so why bother trying to use it? Of course, there will always be the difficulty of interpreting the emotion behind text, but that becomes easier to overcome the more you know the person you are messaging.

  2. You made a wonderful choice with using both of those Key & Peele sketches. I could re-watch them over and over! I too have opposing views on the topic of whether texting is going to dumb down our future children’s abilities to write properly. I would say that it already has to a large extent. Though we – as a society – make a joke out of the fact that many people can’t use the proper your/you’re or their/there/they’re, that is a legitimate fact that unfortunately happens everywhere. However, I wouldn’t go as far to say that texting/short hand will completely destroy children’s abilities to write considering the fact that they are still able to get their point across (even if sometimes it may be written incorrectly). I agree with your statement that “Language is not something objective. It is subjective and can be changed very easily today due to digital writing like texting and tweeting.” It’s hard to deny something that has so much evidence that we see every time we are online or engaging in any form of written communication. I do disagree with your statement about us not having to worry about punctuation or spelling. I think the second Key & Peele skit might touch on this idea a bit, that punctuation can often be the key to miscommunications or contrarily, better understanding. The same can be said for spelling, but this is only when two words are spelled very similarly (desert/dessert for example).

  3. Not only do I love how you summarized this article Brittany, but I appreciate the points and conclusions that you drew from it. At first, my tendency was to agree with David Crystal that texting can potentially change young people’s ability to be completely grammatically correct. After reading through your article though, I tend to agree with your point that a debate in that direction is pretty much obsolete. Not only is language evolutionary, but people who want to participate in particular discourse communities will make sure that they can effectively communicate in them. Using you as an example, even though you text a lot and use social media, you are still able to construct grammatically accurate compositions because you are a student, and you must be versed in that type of language to succeed in the discourse community of scholars. Like you said, everyone has their own way of communicating, and these days, I would argue that it does make more sense to be flexible and go with the grammatical flow.

  4. You did a fantastic job of illustrating the importance of being rhetorical on both the sending and receiving side of a text message. I love Key & Peele peele sketches, and the video about text message miscommunication is the perfect example of how the the high-context medium (medium that requires more written context) of texting can easily go awry. And you were right on point when you said that it is important to understand the other author’s voice and style when interpreting texts.

    From your summary of the article, I think that your takeaway on text messages as a medium in need of rhetoric was much more relevant than the article’s approach to texting as the death of standard American English. Thanks for a great review. I really enjoyed the videos that you used to illustrate the concepts you outlined. Way to be entertaining and rhetorical : ) !

  5. I feel like the way in which we’ve let our language evolve through communicative mediums like Twitter and Texting is actually kind of neat. It’s quick and effective way to talk to people, and I think that anyone who has a problem letting it affects their more professional writing can trace the issue back to something more serious than too much phone usage. I’ve probably made this observation in a response before, but take a moment and think back to how series like Stark Trek or Back to the Future portrayed futuristic communication. It was always through screens that depicted your entire upper torso, while in reality we’ve moved towards an even less informal method of communication that does not require us to worry about our appearance (or even our voice).

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