Development of SMS language from 2000 to 2010

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SMS language is regarded as a ‘new’ communication system (cf. T. Shortis 2007; D. Crystal 2009; M. Markus 2010) characterized by new relationships that native speakers establish between English spelling and pronunciation by using different respelling devices (cf. C. Thurlow 2003; P. López Rúa 2007; D. Crystal 2009). This paper is an attempt to contribute to this recent area of study by analysing the development of SMS language over the last 10 years. Recent findings suggest that even though SMS language might have emerged out of the need for speed and brevity (C. Thurlow 2003: 4) — every SMS has a limited amount of characters —, it seems to have evolved into a fashionable and stylish way of writing where shortened versions of the words are not always the aim of the respelling. For the purpose of a diachronic analysis a free online British SMS corpus available at containing 201 text messages compiled in 2000 has been used in comparison with my own data obtained in May 2010 by means of questionnaires carried out in a London secondary school. Thus, it was possible to analyse the differences in the use of SMS language during the last decade. The research proves that one of the most significant changes is the use of ‘stylish talk’, a new device which consists in lengthening words to emphasize accent, slang, and attitude. This contrasts with the general belief that words are merely shortened in SMS language. Moreover, the use of slang and ungrammatical expressions also seem to be frequent devices.


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