The Damaging Effects of Text Speak on Literacy

5/27/2013 7:43 AM: Rob: Gudmrnin
5/27/2013 8:01 AM: naa: Good morning Rob
5/28/2013 6:56 AM: Rob: Good morning big sis
5/28/2013 6:56 AM: Rob: U gud?
5/28/2013 6:57 AM: naa: I am good
5/28/2013 6:57 AM: naa: How are you spending your time?
5/28/2013 6:57 AM: Rob: Eerm ima work atm
5/28/2013 6:57 AM: Rob: Hbu?
5/28/2013 7:03 AM: naa: Please write in full I don't understand what you have written
5/28/2013 7:03 AM: Rob: Ok
5/28/2013 7:04 AM: Rob: I'm at work at the moment. How about you

This is a WhatsApp message i received yesterday from a youth in my church. A typical example of how many young people and even adults are communicating in text messages and sometimes even emails. Sad. Notice how I kept writing in full when he wrote in text speak. I was just hoping he would catch the drift. I was wasting my time. Maybe you got what he said, but honest to God i honestly thought he was referring to an ATM! Talk about a typical example of barriers to effective communication!

Of late i just cant stand some types of text speak. Its not that i don't understand what they mean (some do actually elude me) but I see it to be a really poor method of communication amongst many people especially the youth who see it to be the cool way to send IM messages. Its like many young people and even some 'adult's are becoming lazy in typing out simple messages. I know! i am ranting. I want to rant today so please...allow! Whats got me started? Of late i have been getting some messages on my BBM and Whatsapp platforms which are just irking me. Here are a few examples of some text speak which i really cant stand and i will also touch briefly on the effect of these text lingo on our lifestyles.


Yes the letter k. Sometimes i will be chatting to someone about an important issue and after waiting for about 10 minutes for a response all i get is 'K'. Is it that difficult to add one more alphabet to that letter to get Ok? Or the keypad O is damaged. Or how hard is it to type 'Ok, i understand'. Such a response communicates to me ( i dont know about you) that you are saying 'whatever' or 'yeah, i hear you'. Imagine a couple who are having some relational issues and after a long email or whatsapp chat
the guy responds, 'k'! Seriously, how would you feel?


No its not a communicable disease. This is text speak for Happy Birthday. Like i wrote on a friend's Facebook timeline in response to her status on this same HBD, anyone who writes that on her timeline deserves a block. Simple. How difficult is it to write Happy Birthday in full? If you know you cant buy the person a birthday card or gift the least you can do is to show some respect to the birthday girl or guy. I see it to be a total lack of respect. Its not 'by force' to even write on the persons timeline anyway.


Apologies are meant to be heartfelt and sincere. Typing a word 'sowie' to stand for an apology is just a a sorry excuse. Sowie is five letters, same as Sorry. Its too bad that many young people of today are seeing this text lingo to be the in thing when it comes to communicating apologies. Like seriously? I even have friends sending this to me on my BBM and when i raise this 'i am being someway'.


I saw on someone's Facebook timeline HMD to wish his friend, Happy Mothers Day. I almost chocked in shock! How crude and rude! Either the person can't spell well to wish his friend motherly wishes or he is just one lazy dude! If you can't be bothered then don't write it. I would have rightly blocked that person. 


Its now too tiring to type Good Morning. Funny Story- Last week one of our church Deacon's was telling me how a lady sent him a message which read 'gm'. He replied, 'Ford' . She resent the same message and he responded the same way, 'Ford'. She then asked what he meant and his response was, 'Ah! But you are sending me General Motors and i am responding 'Ford'! :) - I mean seriously, you are sending a message to a church elder and you can't be bothered to write properly to show respect? I don't get that. 

God forgive you if you write this anywhere on your Timeline or as your status on any IM application. You obviously do not fear or respect God to write Thank You Lord Jesus in full or you are shy to proclaim your Christianity to the world. I saw one on a friends BB status and it made me really sad. Why reduce the blessed name of Jesus to abbreviations or text speak. People dont fear God.


There are so many examples which i could spend forever writing out. And many of these are just dripping down from Western and European culture which of course we are blindly copying to feel 'cool' You know whats sad? Many young teens are using these text lingoes to hide the messages from their parents incase they chance upon them. So just in case Dad comes across a message like GNRN he wouldn't have a clue as to what it means. GNRN by the way, means Get Naked Right Now. Or GAP- Got A Picture?  and even worse GYPO - Get Your Pants Off. Yep, using text lingo to hide sexually immoral acts being conducted via the Internet. 

The Negative Effects of Text Speak on Literacy

So why the fuss about text lingo? Like the negative effects of social media on relationships, text speak is or will have a negative impact on the academics of our Ghanaian youth. Maybe now we may not see the effect but some years down the line many of our kids and young people will be facing serious English grammar difficulties in school and even when they get their first jobs.  When they use text lingo, they basically avoid using the right punctuations and prefer to use the shortcuts to send a message across. Its very common for many students to be using 2 instead of 'too' , u instead of 'you', 4 instead of 'for' as a means of writing faster in sms messages. What do you think is the probability of them writing this in formal letters or assignments?  The line between using text lingo only during phone conversations has been crossed and many students and even yourself can't differentiate between 'your and you're' because they have been writing 'your' to stand for 'you're' and thats just what it is. People just become so used to see text speak that even when they make a mistake in a formal document, the mind just wouldn't recognise the error and accepts it as accurate. 

The communication gap between the younger and older generation gets widened all the more with all the shortcuts used in IM's and texts. Most parents do not understand most of the text speak and it just baffles them to see all kinds of shortcuts in their texts. Eg: Mom, ily. or Dad imu. What is imu or ily? 

The negative effects of text speak are already seeping into the academic work of many American students. Soon it will be Ghana. Maybe i should do a research on it and find out. And sadly, the grammatical errors will soon be evident in job application letters and the like. 

Text speak makes communication faster in many situations, no denying it but then the context it is often used in often becomes a problem. Parents should become more aware of the communication styles of their kids and correct them as often as they can and they shouldn't tolerate it too. Teachers have to also have a low tolerance of this habit when students use short messaging texts in their assignments. Maybe give them a lower grade? This habit has to be nipped in the bud before it blooms into something uncontrollable! 

Should i dare even say that, soon people will be speaking text speak???

What other examples of text speak have you come across? Do you use it alot and which ones dont you understand and often find yourself Googling to understand?

It doesn't take much to add the additional letter of either an 'o' or 'u' in I love you instead of ily. 

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Flipboard's User-Generated Magazines Can Promote Your Brand. HERE'S HOW....

Ghana Innovation Hero- The Award for RootsbyNaa