eCite Digital Repository

Assessing the Written Language of Text Messages


Grace, A and Kemp, N, Assessing the Written Language of Text Messages, Wiley Handbook of Psychology, Technology and Society, Wiley-Blackwell, LD Rosen, NA Cheever and LM Carrier (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 207-231. ISBN 978-1-118-77202-7 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1002/9781118771952.ch12


Mobile phones have become a part of everyday life, following a phenomenal growth in sales since the invention of the first handheld model in 1973 (Cooper et al., 1975; De Souza e Silva, 2006). By 2011, mobile phone subscriptions outnumbered people in 105 countries, with a total of nearly six billion subscriptions globally, averaging 86 subscriptions per hundred people worldwide (International Telecommunication Union, 2012). The 20th anniversary of the first text message was celebrated in December 2012, and according to statistics released by Portia Research (2012), a trillion text messages were sent globally in one year for the first time in 2005, and 8.5 trillion messages were sent in 2012. The subsequent development of a text messaging "language" during this rapid growth has afforded a unique opportunity to observe a rapidly forming and changing style of communication and to investigate the factors that influence its development.

The language used by texters (the senders of text messages) on their mobile phones has been referred to by a variety of terms, including "text speak" (Drouin & Davis, 2009), "textish" (Faulkner & Cul win, 2005 ), "teen-talk" (Thurlow & Brown, 2003), and "textese" (e.g., Drouin & Driver, 2014; Kemp, 2010; Verheijen, 2013), the term chosen for use in this chapter. The specific respellings, contractions, and additions to conventional English contained in text messages (e.g., awsum for awesome, ppl for people, and emoticons such as :-p) are referred to here as "textisms" (see Rosen, Chang, Erwin, Carrier, & Cheever, 2010; Wood, Jackson, Hart, Plester, & Wilde, 2011). Textism use may be motivated by various factors, including efficiency in character use, social capital, and communicative enhancement of messages, as explained below. The unique technological and social contexts in which text messaging occurs may affect the type and extent of textism use. Research on texting has mainly examined how texters use language on their phones, and the relationship between texting and other literacy skills, with varying results. Studies oftextism use and the factors that affect this use have varied greatly in methodology, and in the factors examined in the research design. It is therefore crucial to examine these questions to help inform the interpretation of results already obtained, and to design future research. In this chapter, we consider the methodologies and factors examined in previous studies of textism use in text messages and discuss what their results can reveal about the nature of textisms and their importance in text-based communication.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Educational psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Grace, A (Dr Abbie Grace)
UTAS Author:Kemp, N (Associate Professor Nenagh Kemp)
ID Code:107894
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-03-31
Last Modified:2017-10-31

Repository Staff Only: item control page