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on 31 May 2014
Excellent and objective approach to the texting phenomenon, so much unknown and unexpected ten to fifteen years ago. Exactly what I needed in order to get rid of my linguistic prejudices.
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on 26 April 2016
Helpful book to read for my linguistic and language course. Gives you a good understanding on texting as its own language and adaptions and why we now use it in our everyday conversations
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on 20 February 2009
I have been reading books by Prof Crystal since I was at university and hold him in regard. This one, I rate as "mildly interesting" and never astonishing. That is it supplies a framework and basis of fact around a set of observations and insights which I could quickly have come up with myself if forced at gunpoint to write an essay on the subject. No "wow, I hadn't thought of that" moments,and rather a lot of padding (such as international text practices).

Crystal sets up the bogeyman view that the phenomenon of texting (3 times the revenues produced as Hollywood) is ruining the use of language and then proceeds to dismantle it. But did anyone really believe that texting was a threat to literacy? The argot of texting borrows from and lends to general language just as other technologies have done, or as trade and migration do.

The ergonomic limitations of the traditional phone keypad have prompted creative shortcuts - which Crystal usefully categorizes as logograms, pictograms,rebus,initialisation,contraction and abbreviation. All of these existed before and have merely been incorporated. The telegraph, ham radio (with its Biggles like over and roger) and IM have also spawned shortcuts and indeed the telegraph required its whole new morse code. Restrictions can promote creativity - Crystal cites the discipline of the sonnet form as a parallel. The proliferation of qwerty keypads and touchscreens on mobile devices will no doubt lead to further evolution of txtspk.

The social implications of texting deserve more attention, though perhaps these go beyond the linguistician's domain. The human's marginal propensity to communicate as the cost and technological barriers come down is shocking. Whole patterns of social interaction have changed. How often is one surrounded by people happily texting or emailing in public spaces while simultaneouosly cocooned in their ipod sound systems and generally oblivious to the people actually there around them? So, we communicate more but interact less?

There are some interesting observatons: for example on how woman tend to differ from men in texting (longer, more grammatical, more emoticons, politer - am I surprised?) or why the US took longer to catch up (lack of common standards, driving are cited, though the broader availability and lower costs of alternative media may also have played a role). But, as I say, mildly interesting, hardly astonishing.
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on 5 June 2015
I bought this to assist with my OU Studies.
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VINE VOICEon 18 December 2008
An interesting take on a modern phenomenon, but there seems to be but a single strand to Crystal's argument, i.e. that the changes brought about by texting are unlikely to be any greater than those of any other linguistic shift over the years.

For all that, Crystal writes in a welcome clear and direct style which undercuts any suggestion of intellectualism and the glossary, which might have been regarded as padding for what is essentially little more than an extended essay, is a godsend for those of us finding ourselves a little behind the IT 8-ball.
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on 9 October 2012
Fabulous book: life changing. David Crystal continues to reveal the beauty of language in its Darwinian splendour. Anyone like me who thought words should be preserved Stonehenge-style at some odd arbitrary stage in their development will have their reactionary deflector-shields seriously weakened. Professor Crystal is the Bill Travers / Virginia McKenna of linguistics: he loves language and he's prepared to set it free. Look up this french textism: a12C4, and if you don't gasp at its exquisite brilliance I suggest you defend maths or Whales instead.
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To tell you the truth, the only part of this book I found truly useful is an appendix listing a significant number of English text abbreviations. Potential readers should take note of the fact that author David Crystal is a professor of linguistics, and so the focus of the book is on the changes - be they positive or negative or both - that the exponential growth in text messaging may or may not be making to language. Don't let that "the gr8 db8" subtitle fool you - there's very little in the way of debate in these pages (Crystal declares text messaging to be a good thing at the end of Chapter 1). It's a pretty boring read, to tell you the truth. I certainly don't see very many people, particularly young individuals, reading this with fascination or great interest.

I try to stay ahead of the crowd when it comes to technology, but I have resisted text messaging - and cell phones in general - for some time now. Having spent four years working at a helpdesk, I pretty much hate telephones; many is the time I've cursed the name of Alexander Graham Bell over the years. I do have a cell phone now, but it's only because my parents foisted one on me; unfortunately, they didn't add text messaging to their plan, so I've never really been able to play around with that technology. Working on a university campus, though, I'm certainly aware that the text messages are flying all around me all day long, and I want and need to learn more about the subject. I'm also aware, albeit tangentially, that the quality of student writing seems to be headed in the wrong direction in recent years, and I've been inclined to agree with those who blame that decline in part on the rise of text messaging. I really wanted to see a substantive debate on that question, but I just don't think this book delivered on its promise in that regard.

Among his reasons for writing this book, David Crystal talks about the lack of any such book bringing together all of the disparate academic studies and papers on text messaging vis-à-vis language. He definitely mined the research fields pretty thoroughly. Unfortunately, the continuous references to all these studies makes for some pretty dry reading for the non-academic. To make matters worse, I can't buy in to some of Crystal's findings and conclusions. For one thing, a lot of these studies involved comparatively small groups. With little to no information on the full scope of possible variables on these studies, I can't help but find them suspect. Even if the data were rock solid and reflected the analysis of much larger study groups, I question some of the author's conclusions, especially since he seemingly made up his mind early on that text messaging's positives outweigh its negatives.

While Crystal does provide a history of text messaging, lays out its unique qualities, and offers his analysis of who uses it and why, I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone who just wants to learn more about text messaging in general. This is, for the most part, a dry and somewhat academic read. The chapter on text messaging in languages other than English was nothing short of an ordeal. Even if you are familiar with some of the terms in these different languages, you might want to just skip that chapter altogether.

To be sure, there are some interesting facts for readers to glean from these pages, but my feeling is that those with an interest in linguistics may be the only readers who will truly appreciate the author's efforts. The average reader may well have to grit his teeth and persevere just to make it through to the end.
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David Crystal, the current Archimandrite of Pop Linguistics, has again come up with the goods. It's reasonably brief and light, however for those studying GCSE Spoken Language or A-level Language and Technology modules, it's an essential research and analysis too.
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on 10 March 2013
Very nice and good book which reflects one viewpoint to the modern text language. It helped me do well in my essay.
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