It’s no secret that text messaging has changed the way we communicate, but it has also changed the meaning of sentences, punctuation and grammar. Does proper grammar matter to you in text messages? If so, when is it important?
Disregarding the occasional autocorrect mistake or touchscreen typo, text messages offer a different type of communication method to a phone call. In the UK, text messaging is the most popular form of communication on mobile devices, and a number of studies have suggested that texting changes the way we communicate. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. One researcher from Simon Fraser University suggests the efficiency of a text message is related to creativity:
“I think it will make other people see how creative the younger generations can be and how efficient, because that’s what language is all about,” he said. “It’s a tool to communicate – the more efficient you are, the better.”
It’s not just about the words used in a text message; grammar also includes punctuation. In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, English professor and author Ben Yagoda discusses the way punctuation has changed the meaning of text messages:
My 21-year-old daughter once criticised my habit of ending text-message sentences with a period. For a piece of information delivered without prejudice, she said, you don’t need any punctuation at the end (“Movie starts at 6”). An exclamation point is minimally acceptable enthusiasm (“See you there!”). But a period just comes off as sarcastic (“Good job on the dishes.”).
Punctuation might not be something you think about when you’re sending or receiving a text, but it could have a subtle impact on meaning. The exclamation points you use (and how many) change the meaning of a sentence. Even a missing full stop might make a statement sound less harsh.
Yagoda raises a good point in the New York Times: how much does grammar and punctuation matter?
So let’s hear it. Do you sacrifice grammatical accuracy in text messages, maybe ignoring an apostrophe or period? Do you go all out and write barely readable streams of text? Or do you painstakingly punctuate and check for perfect grammar? Tell us in the comments.