Texting conversations nowadays seem to look like this:
“IM OBSESSED WITH MRS ALL AMERICAN (a song)”
“ITS SO GOOD I KNOW I LOVE IT”
“[smiley face emoji x5]”
“[heart eye emoji x3]”
“[big red heart emoji x8]”
Yes, this is a conversation on my phone, and yes, it does embarrass me a bit to admit it. But, I can say I do not write like this in every situation. Emojis and slang have taken over the way we text, with conversations moving from fragmented sentences lacking punctuation to sentences with little, or no, words at all.
Scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, I see an emoji, or six, in nearly every post. It is much easier to convey emotions and feelings through emoticons and fragmented sentences. When tweets restrict you to 140 characters or less, it is easier to throw in a couple of emojis with a few words to tell the world what is happening rather than formulating grammatically correct sentences.
Before emojis took communication by storm, studies showed the negative effects of texting on writing skills. Even daily means of communication can be affected. As college students, email is a vital tool for communication between students and professors.
According to a Pew Research survey in 2013, the line between “formal and informal” writing is decreasing. The study says that the tone for formal writing is becoming difficult to separate from the informal writing used when we are connected to the digital world. However, I have never sent “LOL” to a professor, nor do I ever plan to.
As a journalism and English major myself, I have not had the struggle of being able to distinguish between what is grammatically correct and what isn’t because of what I text or tweet. The Journal of Computer Assisted Learning looked at a study done by Beverly Plester in 2008 that showed “textisms,” or words we commonly text with that are not spelled properly, did not significantly affect the way we spell in settings outside of texting. In fact, it pointed out that textisms seem to help children with literacy, “In order to read or produce textisms, children need a good level of phonological awareness, that is, sensitivity to the underlying sound structure of spoken language,” Plester said.
While there is controversy as to whether or not texting has ruined the way we effectively write, the development of emojis has its consequences as well. As my example at the beginning shows, words aren’t even used when communicating at some points. If we aren’t even using at least a shortened form of writing, how can our writing continue to develop at all?
Linguist Tyler Schnoebelen told Time Magazine that, after analyzing 500,000 tweets, emojis tend to come at the end of tweets rather than replacing the words in the tweets themselves. People are still able to form sentences in their tweets and just “enrich” what they are saying with an emoji (or five). This means that our writing may not even be affected by emojis at all — they just help to better convey the feelings we are sharing.
While new apps like Emojili, which makes people communicate solely with emojis, seem to be popping up, I think I’ll stick to writing out my conversations. Emojis and slang may be taking over communication today, but proper English is still important for professional communication in my book. And if you are a frequent slang and emoji user, maybe try hitting the grammar books once in a while — it could only help.