While there’ve been a few studies decrying IM and SMS’s impact on people’s ability to speak “properly,” many articles seem to think that texters are still obeying the rules of grammar and simply using a rich, shorthand language in their messages. My wife taught me about code switching, which is the process of changing language or dialect, often dependent on context. Kids are naturally good at this, changing the way they communicate depending on if they’re talking to their parents or friends, for instance, and I think this carries over to speaking versus using IM.
“Instant msg-ing messes with grammar? As if! lol!” is another article not being hysterical about IM shorthand. Other reports of the same University of Toronto study include IMing is Creative Language, Study Says and Texting helps teens’ grammar.
“Parents and teachers don’t need to be concerned that this new medium is corrupting young people’s grammar”, said Sali Tagliamonte, a professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto. Tagliamonte added that she was “blown away” by the command of English, the creativity and the fluidity of language shown by the kids studied. IMing, cell phone texting and chatroom-speak are “an expansive new linguistic renaissance,” the study says.