Saturday, August 8

You have 1 new PhD in text messaging...

Another one in the annals of improbable research…how language is evolving…quite an interesting research topic, if you ask me…


Some of us worry that degrees are getting dumbed down - but now we have a PhD that has been thumbed down. A postgraduate has been awarded what is thought to be the country's first doctorate in text messaging.

Dr Caroline Tagg spent three-and-a-half years tapping out an 80,000-word thesis about SMS texts and their language. She asked friends and family to send her their messages and ended up poring over 11,000 texts, containing 190,000 words, sent by 235 people. And she came to a surprising conclusion. 'Actually, not many people use abbreviations,' said the Birmingham University academic, 33.

In fact, many texts are 'pointless and waffly', such as the enlightening: 'Hi. I know you are at work but I just wanted you to know I found my pen lid.' And fears that 'text speak' is harming our ability to use language are unfounded, she insisted.

'People use playful manipulation and metaphors. It is a playful language. Not only are they quite creative, it is also quite expressive,' she added. Tutor Prof Sue Hunston - who admits she cannot text - said: 'Every stage of the English language has been studied. Now Caroline has studied its use in texts.'

Dr Tagg is now going through teacher training at Birmingham University and will be starting an academic post with the Open University in September. But it seems she is hooked on her subject and hopes to continue by studying texts sent by children.

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