Texting makes you a linguistic Soup Nazi, study says

A study suggests that those who text more are less accepting of new words and more rigid about existing ones. It is unclear whether these new words include LOL and LMAO

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The other day, my mouth was agape with awe when I learned of all the texting acronyms associated with love. And, um, sex.

What artistic mind could have concocted the abbreviation "D46" to signify "Down For Sex"? Which can be used as a question, as well as a command.

And yet a researcher at the University of Calgary has disabused my notion that texters are the linguistic liberals of tomorrow.

For, as the Calgary Herald spells it out, deeply committed texters are deeply conservative when it comes to words.

What linguistics student Joan Lee discovered was that when she presented frequent texters with new--and, indeed, fictitious--words, they recoiled like a Tea Party member discovering his lover works for the government.

Some might find Lee's conclusions bracing (though I have embedded some contradictory evidence). She told the Herald: "People who texted accepted fewer words while people who read traditional media accepted more words."

I wasn't aware that there was still something one could refer to as "traditional media." However, I assume she means things with joined-up words, words with small letters and large--and sentences that might contain a verb.

My regular reading of Psych Central--an invaluable dating guide--also offered these words from Lee: "Texting is associated with rigid linguistic constraints which caused students to reject many of the words in the study."

The conclusion that some might reach is that texters are narrow-minded Soup Nazi-types. They are, depending on your depth of charity, either fiercely protective of their abbreviated language, or entirely ignorant of half the world's words.

One wonders whether it all really matters. Soon, all books will consist entirely of moving pictures and all interpersonal communication will be in the form of acronyms that will seep into the mind like mold into closets.

 

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