Time and Space

Transforming Technologies

“As far as I know, I am not dyslexic, mentally lazy, or illiterate. But I text.”

David Crystal, The Gr8 Db8

Linguistic Economy can be defined as being economical with words/characters/phonemes. It basically means that you can convey meaning using fewer words, so why not do it?! Linguistic economy has become necessary in modern days due to our desire to be more concise and quick in our communications, particularly due to new communication technology. For example, why text a friend saying ‘Would you like to go to the cinema with myself and some other people tonight?’ when you could say ‘Cinema tonight?’ with the same desired response. The prestige of formal written style is falling due to the changing nature of ourselves as language users (in part down to new media technologies, we are now text producers as well as receivers), so being economical isn’t such a bad thing…is it? Read a selection of the articles below and collect your own thoughts on this matter:

Class Activity

Create a display of one of your recent WeChat/Whatsapp conversations by using screenshots. It might be best to anonymise the participants in the conversation. Annotate the screenshots with explainers of how and why you modified your language because of the medium you were using to communicate. If you have not done so already, you can find out about the ‘grammar’ of textese by visiting this informative webpage.

Learner Portfolio

Write an article about Linguistic Economy. You could use the ‘yes/no’ format of the piece Does Texting Ruin Writing Skills? (see below) if you like, although you don’t have to. You could call your piece something like ‘Is Technology Dumbing Down English?’

Here’s a great piece of student writing for you to look at if you like.


Paper 1 Text Type Focus: Opinion Pieces

At the end of your course you will be asked to analyze unseen texts (1 at Standard Level and 2 at Higher Level) in an examination. You will be given a guiding question that will focus your attention on formal or stylistic elements of the text(s), and help you decode the text(s)’ purpose(s). Below are two sets of resources based on the topic of Text Speak: they are both Opinion Pieces. Study the text conventions of this text type, including uses of language, presentational and structural features, and stylistic featues. Record your findings about the genre tropes and text conventions. Add this to your Learner Portfolio; you will want to revise text types thoroughly before your Paper 1 exam:


Body of Work: Texting – The Gr8 Db8

  • The effects of texting had (at the time this book was published in 2008) been relatively well researched but none of that research had reached the general public. As there was a lack of understanding about this issue, largely exaggerated myth about the effect of text messaging on language replaced truth. The point of this book by David Crystal is to dispel misinformation and explore what happens when people text through a linguist’s expert eyes.

Towards Assessment: Individual Oral

“Supported by an extract from one non-literary text and one from a literary work, students will offer a prepared response of 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of questions by the teacher, to the following prompt:

Examine the ways in which the global issue of your choice is presented through the content and form of two of the texts that you have studied. (40 marks)

An extract from this work would make an ideal text to bring into your Individual Oral. The named author would be ‘David Crystal.’ You could explore the Global Issues of: Science, Technology and the Environment or Belief, Values and Education. You may have ideas about how to pair the articles with the literary texts you are studying. If not, don’t worry; speak to your teacher or use the following suggestions as a starting point: 

  • J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun – TBC . 
  • Shaw’s Pygmalion – you could compare attitudes towards varieties of English as expressed by Higgins in Act 1, or look at his teaching methods in Act 2.

Categories:Time and Space

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