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do i know its wrong: children’s and adults’ use of unconventional grammar in text messaging


Kemp, N and Wood, C and Waldron, S, do i know its wrong: children's and adults' use of unconventional grammar in text messaging, Reading and Writing, 27, (9) pp. 1585-1602. ISSN 1573-0905 (2014) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11145-014-9508-1


There is concern that the violations of conventional grammar (both accidental and deliberate) often seen in text messages (e.g., hi ☺ how is ya?!!) could lead to difficulty in learning or remembering formal grammatical conventions. We examined whether the grammatical violations made by 244 British children, adolescents and young adults in their text messages was related to poorer performance on tasks of grammatical knowledge, including translating grammatically unconventional text messages into standard English. We found that variance in the production of grammatical violations in naturalistic messages was inconsistently predicted by grammatical task performance. Specifically, primary school children who made poorer grammar-based spelling choices were more likely to make more grammatical violations in their everyday messages, and university students who failed to correct more grammatical errors in a given set of messages were also more likely to make such errors in their own messages. There were no significant relationships for secondary school students. We conclude that using unconventional grammar when texting is not a consistent sign of poor grammatical abilities, although there may be links between some aspects of grammatical skill and grammatical violations in text messages.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:text-messaging, digital communication, spelling, grammar, child development, mobile phones, children, adults
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:Kemp, N (Associate Professor Nenagh Kemp)
ID Code:92523
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2014-06-23
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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