Can Texting Make us Worse at Writing? By: Evan Pirnie

The Introduction of Texting

  • The first ever SMS (short message service) was sent in 1992
  • In 1995, Americans sent an average of 0.4 texts a month
  • Once texts could be sent between different networks, the average amount of texts sent a day rose to 35 a month
  • Teenagers nowadays send on average 110 text massages a day, which works out to be about 3,200 texts a month
Above shows the average amount of texts sent and received by age group in 2013

The History of Slang and Where Texting has a Role in it

People have developed slang and different variations of our language for thousands of years

Examples of past slang or variation in language-

In 19th century Victorian Era Slang

  • Fly Rink - An 1875 term for a polished bald head
  • Gas Pipes - A term for especially tight pants
  • Poked Up - Embarrassed
  • Rain Napper - An Umbrella
  • Chuckaboo - A nickname given to a close friend

20th century slang


  • Goop: A stupid person
  • Wisenheimer: Someone who thinks he or she is smarter than everyone else
  • Hoosegow: Prison
  • Scrooched: Drunk


  • Bumping gums: To talk about nothing useful
  • Dead hoofer: A bad dancer


  • Frosted: Angry
  • Fine as wine: Good looking


  • What a fry: Something or someone that blows your mind, is weird, or crazy
  • Zeek: A major geek
  • Lurker: A person who enters electronic chat rooms without making a contribution

Student Results in Texting Survey

I surveyed to find out how much our new texting language and slang effects our formal writing

Analyzing Quotes From the Past

In the past there have been many examples of people with claims that the kids of their generation are worse at grammar, language, and writing than the previous generation.

Example 1: A quote by an English professor in 1956

Many do not know the alphabet or MULTIPLICATION table, cannot write GRAMMATICALLY, and seem to have been trained to hate mental EXERCISE ... often they cannot read intelligently, and dislike any reading.

Example 2: A quote by a Connecticut school teacher in 1917

From every college in the country goes up the cry, "our freshman can't spell, can't punctuate." every high school is in despair because its pupils are so ignorant of the merest rudiments.

Example 3: A quote from Charles Eliot, the President of Harvard University in 1871

Bad spelling, incorrectness as well as inelegance of expression in writing, ignorance of the simplest rules of punctuation, and almost entire want of familiarity with english literature, are far from rare among young men of eighteen otherwise well prepared for college studies.

Example 4: Quote from a county superintendent of schools in 1841

For a long time i have noted with regret the almost entire neglect of the art of original composition in our common schools ... hundreds graduate from our common schools with no well-defined ideas of the construction of our language.

Example 5: 63 A.D Pedant writing in Latin

Spoken latin has picked up a passel of words considered too casual for written latin, and the grammar people use when speaking has broken down. The masses barely use anything but the nominative and the accusative ... it's gotten to the point that the student of latin is writing in what is to them an artificial language, and is an effort for him to recite in it decently.


  • Texting use has increased drastically since its introduction in 1992
  • Each time period has developed its own slang and use of language
  • Texting has not ruined our generations writing ability, our language and speech has evolved and changed
  • The way language evolves over time is normal and speech is constantly changing


Created with images by Johan Larsson - "untitled image"

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