A friend of mine recently showed me a text message from her boyfriend. "I luv u," it said. As she cooed over his ability to access his deepest feelings, I wondered whether he might access the deeper fact that three fewer letters do not make the romance greater.
However, there is now vast hope for all those who send texts with stunted spellings. And for their children.
Researchers at Coventry University in the United Kingdom decided to test whether those who are stunted texters really are literate-lite.
The academics' paper, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, has a title that has one desperate to see the 12-year-old's texted version: "Exploring the Relationship Between Children's Knowledge of Text Message Abbreviations and School Literacy Outcomes."
Essentially, the researchers gave a bunch of kids a few scenarios and asked them to write texts. They then calculated the kids "textism-density." You know, a number that represented their frequency of txting rather than texting.
Parents in the whole world (does Chinese have textisms?) will be tossing their family plans in the air when they hear the conclusions: "The ratio of textisms to total words used was positively associated with word reading, vocabulary, and phonological awareness measures."
Oh, but that's not all the good news for those who have shares in cell phone providers. Hark these words from the researchers' report: "Moreover, the children's textism use predicted word-reading ability after controlling for individual differences in age, short-term memory, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and how long they had owned a mobile phone."
I am not going to ask how these fine researchers from the English Midlands controlled for short-term memory. If electroshocks were involved, so be it. I am just delighted that they concluded that playing with words is the most important thing, even if you have your own version of their spelling.
I am also delighted that the world is not doomed and that writing runted texts does not preclude your child from penning the next Great American Novel. Of course, by the time your child grows up, there won't be any more novels. But why should we worry about that right now?