Wednesday, 03 Dec, 2008 Science
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Students Proficient in Grammar are Better at Text Messaging

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According to an Australian psychologist, people who are proficient in reading and writing show better results in the communication via text messaging. The discovery overturns previous assumption that text messaging spoils our spelling.

The study and its results were presented at the Australian Research Council Research Network in Human Communication Science conference, held in Sydney.

The study's lead researcher Dr Nenagh Kemp, who works as a psychology lecturer at the University of Tasmania, selected 55 undergraduates and asked them to read and write text messages using normal English and abbreviated messaging. Kemp, who mainly specializes in spelling development, dubbed the abbreviated text messaging "textisms," and mentioned that her study showed unexpected results.

Although, with the help of textisms, study participants were able to write their messages faster, the recipient required twice as much time to read such message than the message written in normal English.

The researcher said that participants needed 260 seconds to write a normal English text message that spanned two cell phone screens and 220 seconds using textisms. It took 14 seconds to read a message in normal English and 27 seconds to read and understand a shortened version of the same message, reports ABC News.

Kemp said that most of the participants used different textisms when writing a message, which is why it took more time for them to read and comprehend. In addition, she discovered that participants, who were more proficient in grammar and spelling, showed better results in understanding the meaning of the abbreviations in a message. The researcher looks forward to use her study to find whether similar results will be registered in a younger age group.

The current group included undergraduate students who have been reading and writing for about 15 years but who began using cell phones for only five years, which means that the literacy skills of these participants established prior to the advent of textisms.

"If you started texting at a younger age that might be where the impact [on spelling] is felt," she said.

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