Study: Internet Turns Kids Into Terrible Spellers

Study: Internet Turns Kids Into Terrible Spellers

By: Allie Townsend via Time

A recent study released by the English Spelling Society reveals that the Web has not only wholly altered the English language, but has turned us into a culture of misspellers. “The increasing use of variant spellings on the internet has been brought about by people typing at speed in chat rooms and on social networking sites where the general attitude is that there isn’t a need to correct typo’s or conform to spelling rules,” the paper says, meaning our attitude toward grammar has become increasingly lenient. But the real harm in a commonplace Web speak shorthand? If correct grammar continues on a path to irrelevancy, children won’t bother to correct themselves, let alone learn it in the first place.

More on NewsFeed: Average Teen Texts 3339 Times A Month

The study, which focused in on the burgeoning Internet generation reported that one in five 18-to-24 year-olds say they would not feel confident enough to write an important e-mail without a dictionary or spell checker acting as an aid, a scary stat seeing as this is the just the tip of the population who can’t remember a time before computers. Though nearly a third of the those surveyed for the study claimed that alt-spellings common in Internet chatter are “completely unacceptable,” the other two-thirds expressed support for these rebel words to be included in the dictionary. “Accurate spelling is of the utmost importance, but from this most recent survey we can conclude that the unprecedented reach and scale of the internet has given rise to new social practices and it is now an agent in spelling change,” Jack Bovill, Chair of the English Spelling Society, said in the paper.

Maybe grammar could use a reboot.

One Response to “Study: Internet Turns Kids Into Terrible Spellers”

  1. As David Crystal, author of “Txtng: The Gr8 Db8”, points out in an interview on NPR:

    “The end is nigh! If I had a pound for every time I have heard of someone predicting a language disaster because of a new technological development, I should be a very rich man. My bank balance would have started to grow with the arrival in the Middle Ages of printing, thought by many to be the invention of the devil because it would put all kinds of false opinions into people’s minds. It would have increased with the arrival of the telegraph, telephone, and broadcasting, each of which generated short-lived fears that the fabric of society was under threat. And I would have been able to retire on the profits from text messaging, the latest innovation to bring out the prophets of doom.

    All the popular beliefs about texting are wrong, or at least debatable. Its graphic distinctiveness is not a totally new phenomenon. Nor is its use restricted to the young generation. There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy. And only a very tiny part of the language uses its distinctive orthography. A trillion text messages may seem a lot, but when we set these alongside the multi-trillion instances of standard orthography in everyday life, they appear as no more than a few ripples on the surface of the sea of language. Texting has added a new dimension to language use, indeed, but its long-term impact on the already existing varieties of language is likely to be negligible. It is not a bad thing.

    That is my flag nailed to the mast. All these issues need a thoroughgoing exploration. And I begin with the basic question: What actually takes place, linguistically speaking, when people text each other? The answer contains a few surprises.”