You are on page 1of 16

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

ASSIGNMENT OUMH1203 ENGLISH FOR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

STUDENT NAME SEMESTER

: GOH SEE JIUN : 2ND SEMESTER

STUDENT ID: 820822065772001

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

TUTOR NAME

: MS. FAUZIAH ALIAS

TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENS ______________________________________ ABSTRACT _______________________________________________ INTRODUCTION __________________________________________ LITERATURE REVIEW ____________________________________ METHODOLOGY __________________________________________ RESULTS OF SURVEY _____________________________________ CONCLUSION _____________________________________________ APPENDIX ________________________________________________ REFERENCES _____________________________________________ 1 2 2-3 3-6 6-7 7-10 10-11 12-13 14-15

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 2

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

ABSTRACT
Communication technology is changing our way of life. Language is no exception. Some language researchers argue that written language is deteriorating due to the increase usage of electronic communication. The present study investigated 50 mobile phone users selected randomly using Short Messaging Service (SMS) as one of their daily communication tools with the purpose to find out whether SMS language will cause written language deterioration in Malaysia. SMS language is defined as using abbreviations, newly created words, code-switching, code-mixing and emoticons in the messages. The findings indicated that the majority of the respondents agree that SMS language causes written language deterioration. This could be because messages are full of spoken-like spelling, unconventional use of punctuation and abbreviations, and ungrammatical sentence in order to conform to the conditions of electronic communication to reduce space, time and effort. Although the language change due to the advancements in electronic communication technology is inevitable, we have to bear in mind that the negative impact on the written language has to do with the technology users not the technology itself.

INTRODUCTION
What is communication? Communication is a process of transferring information whereby information is enclosed in a package and is channeled and imparted by a sender to a receiver using a channel (Wikipedia, 2010). In recent years, mobile phone has been viewed as an important communication tool and has become an integral part of the Malaysian society. Nowadays, it is very common to see Malaysians chatting or texting on their mobile phones in the streets, in the shopping malls, while waiting for public transportations to the point that the mobile phone has become an essential item to some people especially the younger generation. The mobile phone first appeared in Malaysia in 1998 and was mainly used by professionals. It was bulky, expensive, and built with basic features such as voice call. Today, mobile phones are equipped with other hi-tech features that allow faster communication and entertainment such as Short Message Service (SMS), MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) player, games, internet and videos. These additional features Page 3

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

attracted people from all walks of life including the younger generation, and consequently led to the increase in the number of mobile phone users in Malaysia. According to the survey conducted by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), there were 24,253,000 mobile phone subscribers in Malaysia at end March 2008. It was also reported that as many as 50.7% mobile phone users send out an average of five (5) SMSes a day. Compared to 2004 which recorded a percentage of 31.7%, the number of mobile phone users sending out an average of five (5) SMSes per day has increased by 19%. The factors which have contributed to the popularity of SMS usage could be due to its widespread usage, mobility, low cost and convenience. For example, sending a message via text to a family or friend across the country or even living abroad, would be cheaper than the cost of roaming and long distance phone charges. SMS is extensively used not only for communication purposes, but also as a major marketing tool due to its low cost. Besides that, it is also very convenient for mobile phone users. A message can be easily and quickly transmitted just by pressing a few buttons instead of the conventional method of waiting for the telephone call to be put through or waiting to leave a voice message after a lengthy and annoying answering machine message. Due to character limitations and restrictions in a SMS message, it is a common practice for SMS users to maximize the contents of the messages sent by using abbreviations, newly created words, code-switching, code-mixing and emoticons in their SMS messages. How has this increasingly popular practice affect our written language then? As most Malaysians are multi-lingual, will the widespread use of SMS cause language deterioration? This research aims to investigate and analyze the relationship between SMS usage and whether it causes language deterioration in Malaysia by using abbreviations, newly created words, code-switching, code-mixing and emoticons in the messages.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 4

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

Short Messaging Services (SMS) messages are generally understood or defined as texts read on small mobile phones screens typically capable of presenting 15 to 20 characters per line. The messages are written with numeric keypad on the phone, normally requiring more than one key press per character, with messages restricted to 160 characters in length (Svendsen et al., 2006). Abbreviations and slang most commonly used in mobile phone text messaging are so called SMS language or Textese. It can be likened to a rebus, which uses pictures and single letters or numbers to represent whole words (e.g. "i <3 u" which uses the pictogram of a heart for love, and the letter u replaces you). The users usually will remove the vowels from a word for those words which have no common abbreviation and the reader is required to interpret a string of consonants by re-adding the vowels (e.g. text becomes txt and keyboard becomes kybrd). SMS is a fast, easy, convenient, and an easy way to multitask (Grinter & Eldrige, 2001). We can send SMS to someone when we are brushing our teeth, singing a song, having meals, in class, playing games, or at work. The convenience of SMS is that we do not need to answer the message right away. We can answer the message whenever we want, similar to e-mail, and it will be there. Sometimes, there is only one message we want to transmit such as, Where are we going for dinner?, so SMS may be easier than calling. On top of that, SMS saves time. SMS has been classified as a form of communication services within mobile commerce, grouped together with voice call, MMS, video and e-mail that allows people and organization to send and receive SMS from a mobile phone in near real time. (Harris et al, 2005) SMS, an almost instantaneous communication medium that connects people, is now a phenomenon that has grown and spread around the globe at an amazing speed compared to other types of mobile commerce services. SMS is extensively used not only for communication purposes but also as a major marketing effort due to its low cost. As a highly interactive medium, SMS enables the recipient of the message to reply to it immediately, which establishes a direct dialogue between the advertiser and the potential customer. This enables companies to offer personalized, timely and relevant information, which in turn strengthen the customer relationship and strengthen the emotional

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 5

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

relationship between a brand and its customers (Nysveen et al., 2005). SMS owes its popularity to its low cost mode of information delivery and its instantaneous communication medium which operates on a store and forward concept. With the increasing number of mobile subscribers in the world, SMS has gained its popularity and has become an integral part of peoples lives and has significant implications for communication and information transmission. SMS is also used a lot among teenagers who are still pursuing their study in schools, colleges and universities. According to Lee & Perry (2007), SMS may even be addicting. Most of the college students use SMS with their friends to coordinate plans. Hagen and Rice (2007) found text messaging was mostly used for coordinating. The purpose of SMS sent could simply be used to plan and coordinate with their friends for that night or the future. In fact, according to Adams, Baker, Daufin et. al (2008) SMS and other interactive communication make up 31% of the time are spent communicating, listening takes up 56% while actual talking makes up of only 13% of the time on mobile phone usage. However, SMS with all its popularity and promise do have its critics, especially in the area of education. John Humphrys (2007) who is Welsh journalist and television reporter has criticized SMS language as "wrecking our language". According to Humphrys (2007) the editor cites ambiguous examples such as "lol" which may mean "laughing out loud" or "lots of love", depending on the context in which it is used. In addition to that, Humphrys (2007) also describes emoticons and textese as "irritating" and essentially lazy behaviors, and surmises that "sloppy" habits gained while using textese will result in students' growing ignorance of proper grammar and punctuation. David Crystal (2008) has countered the claims that SMS has a deleterious effect on language with numerous scholarly studies. The findings are summarized in his book Txtng: The Gr8 Db8. Despite scholarly research to the contrary, the popular notion that text messaging is damaging to the linguistic development of young people and to the English language itself persists.

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 6

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

On the other hand, some researches seem to dispute the negative impact of SMS in education. According to Petrillo (2006) referring to a quote by Dr. Beverly Plester, a research psychologist and professor at Coventry University who said, Newer research shows a stronger causal relationship between text abbreviations and literacy skills. Plester argued that text messaging provides more exposure to the written word, which positively relates to greater literacy attainment (Petrillo, 2006). Adults often worry that teens who text using emoticons and other textisms such as letter/number combinations (such as 2moro for tomorrow) or shortened forms (such as bro for brother) lead to less proficiency in spelling and other aspects of traditional written communications. However, a study reported in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology that there was no correlation, or relationship, between students use of textisms and their capacity to use traditional spellings and language features (Plester, Wood & Joshi, 2009). Teens are well aware of different registers, or norms for using language. They know what to say when teachers or parents are listening and how to communicate with their peers. This is the same for adults too. The language one uses in the break room at work may be substantially different from that used in a sales presentation or in a conversation with a supervisor. Some theorists, such as Tom Welch in a 2007 interview, explored responsible use of technologies. Tom Welch thinks of textisms as a separate register or even dialect to which students can readily adapt. Simply put, there is nothing wrong or improper about teaching teens to use language in different ways depending on the context and medium of the communication (Wolsey, 2007).

METHODOLOGY
A small scale study was conducted by adopting a questionnaire survey form to investigate the effect of SMS language practice to language deterioration among mobile phone users living in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Result of the survey was obtained by the responses of 50 mobile phone users selected randomly regardless of age, race and social status. The questionnaire consists of four (4) parts which are background information, SMS activities, SMS abbreviation and whether the users agree or disagree that the language practice in SMS such as shortening word abbreviation and other practices lead to language

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 7

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

deterioration. It focused mainly on the tendency of the users to shorten up words, abbreviate words or chunk words in our national language Bahasa Melayu, our second language English, our respective mother tongue and other languages, how common some of the SMS abbreviations are practiced, as well as whether the users agree or disagree that shortening words in SMS will cause deterioration in ones language or languages. (Refer actual Survey Questionnaire form in Appendix A)

RESULTS OF SURVEY
Table 1 presents the summary of the feedback from respondents regarding their frequency in using SMS as a communication tool as well as the pattern of SMS language they use to communicate with others. The study found that 100% of the respondents (50 respondents) use SMS as their daily communication tools besides making phone calls. The results show that 83% of the respondents shorten up the words, abbreviate the words or chunk the words in their SMSes meanwhile only 17% of the respondents use proper language when texting. The data compiled shows that 44% of the respondents shorten up Bahasa Melayu language words in their SMSes while 20% of the respondents use proper Bahasa Melayu language. 36% of the respondents do not use Bahasa Melayu language when texting. In terms of shortening the mother tongue languages, the results indicate only 38% of the respondents practice this when texting, 20% use proper mother tongue language while 42% of the respondents do not use their mother tongue languages when texting. For English language, 79% of the respondents shorten up English words while 21% use proper English words when texting. More than half (64%) of the respondents use other languages in their SMSes, with other Chinese dialects (Mandarin (55%), Cantonese (14%), Hokkein (11%)), Tamil (12%) and Japanese (8%) apart from their mother tongue being most frequently used. Additionally, the result shows that 68% of the SMS users are likely to mix up more than one language in their SMSes and almost half (49%) of these users utilize English language to do so. According to the findings of the survey, 58% of the respondents believe that SMS will help them to revive their mother tongue even though some of the mother tongue

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 8

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

languages are not available in their natural characters in their mobile phone. These users will use Roman alphabets to reflect the words spoken in their mother tongue languages. Table 1: Feedback from Respondents for SMS Activities (In % Percentage) Question / Answer 1. Do you have a mobile phone (mobile phone)? 2. Do you SMS? 3. When you used SMS, did you shorten up the words, abbreviate the words or chunk the words? 4. Did you shorten up Bahasa Melayu words in your SMS? 5. Did you shorten up Mother tongue words in SMS? 6. Did you shorten up English words in SMS? 7. Did you SMS in other language(s)? 8. If Yes, name the language (s)............................ Mandarin Tamil Japanese 55 12 8 9. Did you mix up more than one language in your SMS? If Yes, name the language(s)................................. Bahasa Melayu English Mandarin 23 49 21 10. Will SMS help to revive your mother tongue language? Yes 100 100 83 44 38 79 64 No 17 20 20 21 36 Not Applicable 36 42 Cantonese 14 -

Hokkien 11 68 32

Tamil 3 58 42

Others 4 -

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 9

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

Diagree 26%

Agree Diagree

Agree 74%

Chart 1: Feedback from Respondents on Whether Shortening Up Words Via SMS Will Cause Language Deterioration According to the findings shown in the above Chart 1, we found that 74% of the respondents agree that shortening up words in SMSes will corrupt or deteriorate our written language. From the data collection, most of the respondents say that in order to save time and due to characters constraint in text messaging, they will usually use abbreviation or shorten up words. Therefore, the words used in SMS are usually misspelled and can cause confusion and misunderstanding if the receiver of the text does not understand certain SMS language words used. This is in sync with the opinion of Bodomo (2009) who stated that new communication technologies do not only generate new forms and uses of language, but also new forms of literacy which are associated with the introduction and uses of new technologies. This holds true for SMS communication. This type of language has been alleged to not obey or follow standard English grammar; furthermore, the words used in the writing system can not be found in standard dictionaries. There are no standard rules for writing SMS languages. To overcome text length limitations of text-messaging, users have developed their own form of shorthand, code or jargon. However, such practice raises concerns with many educators including former teacher and now author Jacquie Ream, who feels that this type of communication is destroying the way our kids read, think, and write (Shaughnessy, 2008). It can lead to misconception of

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 10

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

language or word usage especially for those who are illiterate. She contended that it is too easy, too simple, and this type of communication using acronyms and shorthand does not require critical thinking skills or analysis. According to Ream, text messaging is destroying the written word, and she believes students today need to do more writing, not in the form of instant messages, but well thought out essays. In addition to that, once we already familiar to the usage of abbreviations in SMS, it will cultivate into a bad habit which will be difficult to break. Most users do not notice that they are applying the same abbreviations into their formal writing. According to OConnor (2005) reported that the more students use tools like text messaging the less they are able to separate formal and informal English. In other observations on student writing, Friess (2003), noted that although students seemed to communicate scholarly thoughts, they did not seem to know its y-o-u, not u.

CONCLUSION
This study challenged the assumption that SMS language will deteriorate the written language due to usage of abbreviations, spoken-like spelling, less attention to punctuation and capitalization, as well as syntactical and lexical reductions in order to conform to the conditions of electric communication to reduce space, time and effort. Although SMS is a very useful communicating tool, we should bear in mind the implications of these common practices in SMS languages. Similar to any other forms of communication, brevity, clarity, and attention to tone and manner should be equally emphasized in electronic communication. Omitting thanks, greetings, punctuation, capitalization and grammar might not be always a good practice. Although the language change due to the advancements in electronic communication technology is inevitable, the negative impact on the written language has to do with the technology users not the technology itself. As the saying goes, Old habits die hard. This is more worrisome when we are faced with such language problems in a multilingual society like Malaysia. Lately, there have been concerns highlighted regarding the

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 11

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

deteriorating level of Bahasa Melayu language and English language among the younger generation. With the increasing popularity of SMS language, this will further cause deterioration in the written languages. Users have to form a mind-set to differentiate the different communication modes of SMS and written language, and not integrate SMS language into their written language. With the latest forms of social-networking communications like Facebook or Twitter and perhaps more to come in the near future, we should embrace these technology advancements as communication tools, but at the same time strengthen our language proficiency by reading grammatically-correct reading materials to further enhance our writing skills.

APPENDIX A
SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 12

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

SMS PRACTICES IN MALAYSIA A. BACKGOUND INFORMATION Instruction: Circle one only 1. Age: a. 15-20 b. 21-25
than 40 years old. (Circle one) c. 26-30 d. 31-35 e. 36-40 f. more

2. Ethnic: Your mother tongue:. 3. Gender: Male Female (Circle one) 4. Status:
(Circle one) a. Studying b. Working c. Both d. Not Applicable

B. SMS ACTIVITIES Instruction: We highly appreciate it if you could provide us some feedback on this quick survey. Please respond to the following statements by circling the appropriate option in the box. Do not write your name. Thank you for your cooperation. 1. Do you have a mobile phone (mobile phone)? 2. Do you SMS? 3. When you used SMS, did you shorten up the words,
abbreviate the words or chunk the words? 4. Did you shorten up Bahasa Melayu words in your SMS? 5. Did you shorten up Mother tongue words in SMS? 6. Did you shorten up English words in SMS? 7. Did you SMS in other language(s)? 8. If Yes, name the language (s)............................ 9. Did you mix up more than one language in your SMS?

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

No No No No No No No No

Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable

a. If Yes, name the language(s)................................. 10. Will SMS help to revive your mother tongue
language?

Yes

No

Not Applicable

C. SMS ABBREVIATIONS Instruction: How would you shorten up the following words in SMS? Or How would you SMS the following expressions?

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 13

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

Expressions How are you? Good morning I will call you Breakfast I love you Do you want to come with me? He had an accident last night. D. Agree or Disagree: Instruction: Circle one only.

Mother tongue

Bahasa

English

Do you think shortening up words in SMS will corrupt your language? Yes or Optional for respondents to answer. Why did you say YES? In what way SMS corrupt the language? Why did you say NO?

No.

Please provide answers in point forms. Use the back of the page to write your responses

REFERENCES
[1] Adams, J., Baker, K., Daufin, E.K., Ellington, C., Emanuel, R., Fitts, E., Himsel, J., Holladay, L. & Okeowo D. (2008). How college students spend their time [2] communicating. International Journal of Listening, 22(1), 13-28. Bodomo, A.B. (2009). Computer-mediated communication for linguistics and literacy:

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 14

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

[3] [4] [5] [6]

Technology and natural language education. Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global. Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved 2010-06-13, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication David, C., (2008-07-05). "2b or not 2b?". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2010-06-05. Friess, S. (2003-03-31). Yo, can u plz help me write English? USA Today. Retrieved 2010-06-04. Grinter, R.E. and M.A. Eldrige. (2001). Y do tngrs luv 2 txt msg? In Proceedings of the Seventh European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work ECSCW 01 Bonn, Germany. W. Prinz, M.Jarke, Y. Rogers, K. Schmidt and V. Wulf (eds), 219-238. Hagan, I. & Rice, R. (2007). Proceedings from ISA 07: Conference Papers: -International Communication Association. Social connectivity, multitasking, and social control: U.S. and Norwegian college students use of internet and mobile phones. Santa Barbara, CA. Harris, P., Rettie, R. and Cheung, C.C. 2005. Adoption and usage of m-commerce: A cross-cultural comparison of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, Vol 6 No 3, pp. 210-224. ----- (2008). Hand Phone Users Survey. Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Humphrys, J., (2007-09-24). "I h8 txt msgs: How texting is wrecking our language". Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 2010-06-05. Lee, K.C. & Perry, S.D. (2007). Mobile phone text messaging overuse among developing World university students. Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory & Research, 33(2), 63-79. Nysveen, H., Pedersen, P., Thorbjornsen, H. and Berthon, P., 2005. Mobilizing the brand- The effects of mobile services on brand relationship and main channel use, Journal of Service Research, Vol 7 No 3, pp. 257-276. O'Connor, A. (2005). Instant messaging: friend or foe of student writing. Retrieved 2010-06-06, from http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/literacy/oconnor.htm Petrillo, M. (2008). Students who are good at texting are better spellers. Retrieved 2010-06-04 from http://temple-news.com/2008/10/06/students-who-aregood- at-textingare-better-spellers/ Plester, B., Wood, C., & Joshi, P. (2009). Exploring the relationship between childrens knowledge of text message abbreviations and school literacy outcomes. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27(1), 145-161. Svendsen, G.B and Johnsen J.A.K. 2006. Use of SMS in office environment, Page 15

[7]

[8]

[9] [10] [11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

[16]

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

POPULARITY OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) USAGE & ITS EFFECT ON WRITTEN LANGUAGE DETERIORATION

Proceedings of 39th annual Hawaii International Conference on System Science ; 4-7 [17] January 2006, Kauai, Hawaii, USA Thurlow, Crispin. 2005. "Generation Txt? The Sociolinguistics of Young People's Text Messaging." [18] Discourse Analysis Online Journal. Retrieved 2010-06-06 http://extra.shu.ac.uk/daol/articles/v1/n1/a3/thurlow2002003-paper.html. Shaughnessy, M. (2008). An interview with Jacquie Ream: what's happening with writing? Retrieved 2010-06-04, from http://ednews.org/articles/25371/1/An-Interview-with-Jacquie-Ream-What039s[19] Happening-with-Writing/Page1.html Wolsey, T. D. (2007). An interview with Tom Welch. The California Reader, 41(1), 5362.

Prepared by Goh See Jiun

Page 16