The Effect of Texting on Academic Writing among Non-Native Speakers Students

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Time brings a lot of changes to human life whether human beings want it or not. It is not a secret for anybody that communication also changes from year to year. Our grandparents were often surprised by new "slang" words, which our parents started to use, because their style of speaking and writing was different, and they could not accept the new changes in the language structure. The same thing happens with the new generation (the representative of which I am) and its parents, who do not want to admit a large amount of the new words and phrases, which appear in everyday communication. Sometimes, they even try to eradicate these innovations, appealing to the bad education or bad manners. However, one should remember that no language can be invariable, because it always reflects the mental sets and lifestyle of the time. As we know, the 21th century is marked as a period of high technologies and high speed of development in any sphere. Therefore, it is hard to refute that the style of both spoken and written communication is influenced by computers and Internet to a truly significant extent (Dietzel). It could be possible just to take it as such if this phenomenon would not have shown itself from the negative side.

In fact, this negative side is recognized through the effect of Internet communication on academic writing among students, especially those, who form the group of non-native speakers. Getting used to keep in touch through a social network and applications for various gadgets, they share information and send messages via Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Friendster, and MySpace. According to the fact that online chats make the users feel like they are in a hurry, because the interlocutor is waiting on the other side of the global web, people make words shorter than they should be, construct various abbreviations and often forget about punctuation marks. In its turn, academic writing has strict rules how to write every kind of written work. Surely, any neologisms and abbreviations are not allowed to use in the academic text. As a result, there is a conflict between language of chats and social networks and academic language, which cannot be distinguished enough by a non-native speaker.

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Effects of texting can be different, but there is no doubt that they are visible in all manifestations of language, whether people speak or write. School teachers, university professors and linguists are indignant about how the modern language starts to look like. They call texting to be a "continuing assault of technology on formal written English" (Lee), and the work of "vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours eight hundred years ago ... pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary" (Humphrys). The first effect that can be discussed is an effect on the standard language. The most significant point here is that texting can destroy the borders of a Standard English. The sphere of online communication does not have any specific prescriptions or prohibitions about what can be used, whereas the sphere of standard language has strictly established grammar, phonetics, vocabulary etc. In parallel with Internet language, standard language is formal, full of rules, formed by history. Sometimes, it is sad to observe how the literary historical beautiful language is forced out by all these new words; the meaningful exclamation "Oh My God!" is replaced by "OMG", and the compliment "You look fashionable" - by "You are swag!". On the other hand, maybe it is necessary to admit that it is just a new epoch in the history of language that we cannot prevent or stop.

The second effect is an effect on spelling. Non-native speakers are in the centre of this problem, and it is evident why. Children and teenagers have an easy access to messengers and chats even if they do not have any need to use it in an early age. Automatically, they learn how to write quickly, using abbreviations, smiles and short sentences without punctuation marks. Non-native speakers, who, for example, migrate to the United States or to the United Kingdom, live in social conditions where their English-speaking peers demonstrate the strong impact of texting in their communication. Non-native speakers take an example from native speakers; however, the problem is that native speakers do not speak correctly as well. That is how immigrants start pronouncing English words and phrases in the wrong way, and they are not guilty; therefore, they just follow the example.

The next effect of Internet texting is a problem with grammar. First of all, non-native speakers often forget about the use of various tenses, using only Present, Past and Future Simple. Secondly, they use "I'll" instead of "I will" or "I've" instead of "I have". Such shortenings are suitable for unofficial communication, but not for academic writing. Thirdly, students write words incorrectly, using wrong letters or forgetting some letters in necessary places. Consequently, their results can get worse.

Another and the most influential effect of texting is the construction of abbreviations. The users of social networks aspire to share their thought as quickly as possible (because, as we know, time is money); therefore, they write only first letters of words and numbers to save the time. There are the whole lists of abbreviations in the Internet, created for those, who are newcomers in online-life. Among them, we can find: 10Q = Thank you, 2nite = Tonight, AFAIR = As Far As I Remember, AISB - As I Said Before, AMBW = All My Best Wishes, B4N = Bye For Now, BBSD = Be Back Soon Darling, BRB = Be Right Back, CU = See You, CYM = Check Your Mail, GF = Girlfriend, GJ = Good Job, TTYL = Talk To You Later. It shows to which extent English transforms into something totally new owing to texting.

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The two last effects, which are interdependent, are changes in punctuation and propositions. Often, punctuation is put back, because the users think that it is not so necessary to write commas while printing abbreviations in hurry. What about propositions, non-native speakers, who text in chats too much, are not able to construct long sentences, because they get used to shorten all they write. By this, their ability to verbalize own thoughts stays neglected, and academic writing seems to be truly hard for them.

In conclusion, it is possible to reveal at least six effects of texting on academic writing of non-native English speaking students. These effects are mostly negative, because they stop students from involvement into the sphere of literate formal language, knowledge of which is a requirement in any university or working place. Nobody says that they should stop using Facebook and WhatsApp - it is just impossible in the time of high technologies. However, they should remember that academic English and Internet English are two different things that cannot be mixed.

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