Instant Messaginging A “Linguistic Renaissance” For Teenagers

WTF? Contrary to what most would assume, IM abbreviations are actually expanding teenager’s language skills. As NewScientist.com reports, In a study by Sali Tagliamonte and Derek Denis from the University of Toronto, which is scheduled to run in the spring 2008 issue of American Speech, the scientists found that instead of totally screwing up their ability to communicate, they’ve declared it a “linguistic renaissance.”

Check out the rest of the article after the jump!

From the article:

“IM is interactive discourse among friends that is conducive to informal language,” says Denis, “but at the same time, it is a written interface which tends to be more formal than speech.”

He and Tagliamonte analysed more than a million words of IM communications and a quarter of a million spoken words produced by 72 people aged between 15 and 20. They found that although IM shared some of the patterns used in speech, its vocabulary and grammar tended to be relatively conservative. For example, teenagers are more likely to use the phrase “He was like, ‘What’s up?'” than “He said, ‘What’s up?'” when speaking – but the opposite is true when they are instant-messaging. This supports the idea that IM represents a hybrid form of communication.

Additionally, Tagliamonte and Denis found that LOL, OMG, and TTYL only made up 2.4-percent of the language used. Using “u” to replace “you” only occured 1 in 10 times, and is used most most often by younger IM users. But despite teens still being able to string a sentence together, it doesn’t make me want to hear their yammering any more.

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