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The Perks and Consequences of "Text Speak"

Updated on May 4, 2012

The Perks and Consequences of “Text Speak”

How often do you use abbreviations and acronyms? Typically people use acronyms and abbreviations every day with “text speak.” But what is important is whether or not people use them at the right time. In the essay “Does IM Make U Dum?” Martha Brockenbrough writes that abbreviations and acronyms are appropriate at times. I believe that “text speak” is typically unacceptable due to the negative impression it gives to those who read it; however, I do agree with Brockenbroiugh that “text speak” can be accepted under the right circumstances.

The ability to communicate effectively and respectively is essential in life. According to Rose Robbins, “people that may be bright, educated and capable, are sabotaging their own career opportunities through the use of text speak” (Robbins). This is why “text speak” is considered improper when you are speaking to adults. Especially adults such as professors, employers, your girlfriend’s parents, and other people whose opinions of you are important. For example, it would make a terrible impression on your calculus professor if you sent him an email reading, “hey can u plz help me with the hmw?” I know this is unacceptable, because I had a professor once who informed the entire class on the first day that if you emailed him using “text speak” that he refused to respond to the email at all. By using this type of language it not only communicates that you are lazy, but also that you do not see the professor as a superior. When using correct grammar and spelling, the instructor knows that he is respected.

Another reason I find “text speak” inappropriate is that when we use “text speak” we become accustomed to relying on abbreviations and acronyms. This makes people used to saving time by shortening words. You will find yourself automatically condensing words in situations that require correct grammar and spelling, because you are so comfortable with the convenience of saving time with “text speak,” and are completely oblivious to the fact that you just sent your employer a completely inappropriate email. I once sent my professor, that absolutely despises informal language, an email containing a great deal of “text speak,” without realizing what I had just done. It quickly came clear to me that I had sent a message to an authoritative figure that would unquestionably horrified, and frantically typed him a new email expressing my embarrassment and apologizing for being so informal with him. Had I not been so accustomed to shortening words that do not call for acronyms and abbreviations, maybe I would not have emailed my professor in such an unprofessional manor and embarrassed myself. Now, I use correct grammar almost all the time. Even when “text speak” would not be found inappropriate I still use proper spelling with the occasional abbreviation.

Although I disagree with using “text speak,” I do believe that Brockenbrough is right in the sense that using such a styling of writing or typing is tolerable in certain circumstances. In such circumstances, “you can communicate more information in less time by adopting internetisms” (Brockenbrough A-30). For example, you could let a friend know that something he or she said was funny simply by texting “lol,” as opposed to typing out, “Gee, that last message really tickled my fancy!” It is even acceptable to text your parents in such a way. Even though I respect both of my parents more than any other adults, I am close enough to them that it is reasonable for me to use “text speak.” In fact, my mother texts me, “love u!” almost every day. The only consequence is that we will again become accustomed to using “text speak,” and be that much closer to ruining a first impression on someone important.

Although I do agree that “text speak” is inappropriate and can be accompanied by consequences, I also agree that it is acceptable at the right time. If you can trust yourself to know when and when not to use abbreviations and acronyms then you may use “text speak.” The manner in which you communicate to authoritative figures, employers, or parents of a girlfriend or potential girlfriend says a lot about you. It is your responsibility to make sure it says the right things in the right way.

Works Cited

Brockenbrough, Martha. “Does IM Make U Dum?” The Practice Hall Essential Guide for College Writers. Stephen Reid. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall, 2011. A-29 – A-31.

Robbins, Rose. “Texting: Shortcut to Illiteracy?” 24 May 2010. 11 September 2011.


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