Every few months it seems, another article or blog post comes out making sensationalist claims like “Texting is destroying our language!” and “Kids today don’t know how to write anymore thanks to texting and emoji!”

People have been fearing the demise of the written word since, well, the creation of the written word. That’s right: there were those who thought that writing would destroy the language. People would not need to develop their memories, they feared, since they could simply “write things down.” While it’s true that few still make the effort to memorize thousands of lines of epic poems, few people today would say that writing has destroyed languages. If anything, writing has preserved these languages (and the cultures who use them) for posterity. Most importantly, writing (especially printing, and later information technology), has democratized information and allowed more people than ever to learn and grow. While I am not saying that texting is on par with the printing press, it is still a useful tool (especially when learning a new foreign language), and you should have no fear of it dumbing down our youth or threatening the future of written communication.

In this great TED Talk, linguist John McWhorter makes the case for why texting does not mean the death of good writing skills, and even shares some positive linguistic and cultural aspects of this new communication medium.

 

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