Pew Internet logoI know I’m kind of behind on this one – after all, other blogs and the news media reported on it last week – but I did want to mention the newest report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. I’ve been following the Pew Internet documents for years, and I think they’re a great way for everyone who’s interested to keep up with how the Internet is changing the way our culture works everywhere you go in the US.

The report is called “Writing, Technology, and Teens.” It considers the amazing fact that writing is important to teens, and is in fact becoming more so because teens now spend so much time communicating via cell phone texting and other electronic media. But is writing text-style damaging writing in English? Here’s a quote:

A considerable number of educators and children’s advocates worry that James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, was right when he recently suggested that young Americans’ electronic communication might be damaging “the basic unit of human thought – the sentence.”

But because few folks had talked with teens about it, few folks realized that teens do take writing seriously, and want to be better writers. The press has gone all ga-ga over the report’s finding that teens are incorporating their electronic prose style (you know – no capitals at the beginnings of sentences, leaving vowels out of words, using numbers in words, etc.) into the writing they do for school.

I actually don’t think that educators have too much to worry about. Teens know that text-speech doesn’t work too well when communicating with folks (like us crotchety elders), who don’t get their abbreviated speech. What I find interesting is the change in the language which may become significant over the next few decades. Do you see, as I see, the possibility that capital letters at the beginning of sentences may go away? I don’t see any reason why they may not. We baby-boomers may become the last generation to insist on caps.

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