Tuesday, 24 March 2009

David Crystal on txting

I've been looking in on - and sometimes posting to - a wiki on Digital Literacy.

Here's a question that's come out of it: aren't our students already digitally literate?
I'm picking up from some of the pages and posts the idea of digital literacy that's forming is predicated on a deficit model; digital literacy is something that students don't have until we give it to them.

Is this fair? Isn't the question really about understanding students' digital literacies before they come to university and developing it further?

If anyone's in 'deficit' could it be academic staff too quick to dismiss the digital literacy practices of students (I've been reading a truly appalling book by Tara Brabazon called The University of Google which exemplifies this attitude).

Anyway, here are some nice extracts from David Crystal's book on txting:

There is rather curious ambivalence around. Complaints are made about children's poor literacy, and then, when a technology arrives that provides fresh and motivating opportunities to read and write, such as email, chat, blogging, and texting, complaints are made about that. (Crystal 2008: 157)

Children could not be good at texting if they had not already developed considerable literacy awareness. Before you can write abbreviated forms effectively and play with them, you need to have a sense of how the sounds of your language relate to the letters. You need to know that there are such things as alternative spellings. You need to have a good visual memory and good motor skills. If you are aware that your texting behaviour is different, you must have already intuited that there is such a thing as a standard. If you are using such abbreviations as lol ('laughing out loud') and brb ('be right back'), you must have developed a sensitivity to the communicative needs of your textees, because these forms show you are responding to them. If you are using imho ('in my humble opinion') or afaik ('as far as I know'), you must be aware of the possible effect your choice of language might have on them, because these forms show you are self-critical. Teenage texters are not stupid nor are they socially inept within their peer group. They know exactly what they are doing. (Crystal 2008: 162-3)


Crystal, D. (2008). Txting: the gr8 db8. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

1 comment:

doc said...

Interesting article. I recently interviewed David Crystal for a story for Converge magazine. Check it out here: http://www.convergemag.com/artsandhumanities/Languages-in-2020.html