Texting and corpora

Tagg, Caroline (2012). Texting and corpora. In: Hyland, Ken; Huat, Chau Meng and Handford, Michael eds. Corpus Applications in Applied Linguistics. London: Continuum, pp. 150–165.


The impact of text messaging on society has been profound, changing communication patterns and sparking public debate about the implications for language and literacy. The perceived need to counteract negative media portrayals of texting forms the starting-point of much linguistic research (Anis, 2007; Dürscheid and Stark, 2011; Thurlow, 2003), and the fact that linguists see themselves as entering a public debate is illustrated in the title of David Crystal’s popular book, Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (2008). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the disapproving stance taken by the media towards texting tends to be based on extreme or ‘fictionalised’ cases of highly unconventional spelling practices (Thurlow, 2006). One of the aims of this chapter is to show how corpus-based research can enable linguists to challenge common assumptions around texting and to explore actual texting practices. Corpora reveal meaningful patterns in the way words are spelt, as well as evidence of language play and creative code-switching which serve as sources of individual expression.

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