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Short Messaging Service Otherwise Known As SMS English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2748 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Short messaging service or commonly known as SMS is an essential tool for humans nowadays. According to Adam Fendelman, "SMS is also often referred to as texting, sending text messages or text messaging from one cell phone to another." It was started in 1980's when telecommunication experts were discussing about a specifications of delivering short messages between mobile phones through a network. Initially, an average of only 0.4 messages was sent per month. The first SMS sent was "Merry Christmas" by an engineer by the name of Neil Papworth to his colleague in United Kingdom on December 3, 1992. Seven years later, SMS started to take off and the teenagers were the first to adopt this technology, followed by the elderly.

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Unlike those days, SMS is now not uncommon anymore as the technology is being used and modified from ringing tones to Akademi Fantasia voting and FIFA World Cup results besides creating a new career through SMS businesses. Based on India's Economic Times, this concept of texting had been pictured more than a century ago. According to Cor Stutterheim from CMG, SMS began for the operators to impart information to the clients about the network. He added that he never thought it would be a medium of communication between the mobile phone users one day.

The use of SMS

Abbreviations, short forms, newly created words and emoticons

SMS messaging is used all over the world. According to Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association's survey, 1.5 trillion text messages were sent in 2009. This means that there were nearly five billion SMS messages transmitted in a day. Hand phone keypad, which has the same function as the computer keyboard, gives rise to various abbreviations, short forms, emoticons and codes. Surprisingly, these so-called SMS language is understood by the users easily and it can be said that most people are using it at present. Here are some examples of SMS language.

2.1.1 Replacing words with only alphabets:

B - be

C - see

D - the

2.1.2 Replacing/Mixing words with numbers:

- want

- to/too

- for

8 - ate eg. l8r

9 - line eg. on9

2.1.3 Newly-created words:

DEM - them

COZ - because

IZIT - is it

BEC - back

2.1.4 Omitting 'g' at the end of 'ing':

GOIN - going

EATIN - eating

WATCHIN - watching

MAKIN - making

2.1.5 Combining the first alphabets of each word to replace a sentence:

ILU - I love you

LOL - laughing out loud

OMG - oh my God

2.1.6 Omitting the vowels from a word:

ASSGNMT - assignment

MSG - message

TXT - text

(Meaning: By the way, see you before 10 at McDonald's? For what it is worth, I think Joey could be there too)

Emoticons are normally to represent smiley, where only three to four punctuations are used to form an image as below. The punctuation (:) will be the eyes, whereas the hyphen (-) will be the nose and the next punctuation or letter used will represent the mouth.

:-) - happy

:-( - sad

:-| - boring

:-D - laughing

According to Scott Falman, who is a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Computer Science, the emoticon :-) is used to state a humorous or non serious matter in the subject line of an online bulletin board post. However, in SMS language, it is pictured as a happy smiley.

Literature review

Based on a study made by Barasa, S. and Mous, M. in Kenya, they felt that the revolution of this applied science has infesting the standard of written language due to the new language that SMS has given rise. Barasa et al. studied the effect of cell phone and SMS on literacy language and they found out that the main root of evolvement of SMS language is the limitation of the number of characters per message. Barasa et al. had focused on the study of graphones, where the SMS words are written based on the pronunciation verbally. For example, the sentence 'Stay a little wyl longer. He myt change wit tym' has the same pronunciation as 'Stay a little while longer. He might change with time.' This explains how the sentences and words are being shortened up and also how the creativity in using multilingualism is 'fostered'. It has not any differences when we read it out. Some people think that SMS is more to a spoken language and I could not agree more by the sight of reading the message, which sounds the same with the spoken one.

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Another research done was in Sweden by Hard af Segerstad (2005), where the aim of the study is to investigate the impact of SMS message on Swedish linguistic. This is done by using three methods of collecting data that are a web-based questionnaire, user diaries and forwarding methods. Segerstad (2005) reported that conditions of text messaging, production and perception conditions for instance, have caused the users to think out of a scheme, which is time, effort and space-saving, as an easy way to deliver message. His research is supported by Doring (2002), Schlobinski et al. (2001), Thurlow (2003) and Kasesniemi (2003). Segerstad (2005) has also categorized the linguistic features of SMS into four; punctuation, spelling, grammar and graphical like emoticons, asterisks and symbols. Not only that, he also raised a question whether the computer-mediated communication (CMC) is to be regarded as written, spoken language or the combination of the two. The results showed seem to correspond to the findings of SMS of Barasa et al., stating that SMS language is mostly associated with spoken language, instead of written language. This shows that SMS language has the ability to develop into a new mode of communication, where the same abbreviations, short forms, emoticons are used in all languages in spite of English as the world's language. Perhaps, one day, SMS language may be standardized, where everyone is free to communicate with each other despite different language used.

Aiming to study the influence of SMS language on language of media and examining the male and female users' linguistic properties, Muhammad Shaban had done the research in Nigeria by using quantitative analysis, where a sample of 50 subjects; 25 for each gender, was used to collect data. The results obtained presents 80% of SMS language is without capitalization and female users are prone to have complex capitalization. Furthermore, there is a significant difference on lexical, morphological and syntactic between the two genders. However, they felt that SMS language does not influence commercials language. Yet, Muhammad Shaban concluded that SMS language does bring adverse effect on Standard English language and media language in Pakistan as some advertising companies started to use SMS language to get across their product. For instance, 'Kahin na kahin tu hai', which means '1 car 4 u' or in the other words, 'Somewhere is one car for you'. Well, the influence of SMS language more or less does have an effect on the media. This might due to the target set by the company, aiming for teenagers to buy their merchandise.

Cincotta, K (2008) learnt that the spoiling of English language is the fault of high-speed communication. Besides limitation of characters per SMS, having pressure when chatting to more than one person in chatting rooms seems to lead a person to use SMS features. However, Crystal D. has different opinion based on his book 'Txting: The Gr8 Db8', which studies the effect of technology on language. In his research, he found out that 90% of text messages are not written in SMS language despite sounding informal. He also added that texting does not make a person to forget the spelling; instead it will improve one's literacy. Normally, the causes of using short forms are due to lack of time and space in delivering messages. The use of SMS language depends on the users themselves, whether or not to include those characteristics into their messages.

Another research done by Crystal, D. (2005) and he looked at the scope of Internet linguistics, which includes the computer-mediated communication (CMC) such as Short Messaging Service (SMS), in three perspectives. They are sosiolinguitic, educational and stylistic perspectives. He expressed his opinion that 'language resources for the expression of informality in writing have greatly increased and largely lost when Standard English was established in the 18th century. Hence, with this new technology, CMC enables us to dig into the ability of written language in an originative way. Crystal, D. (2005) also agreed that the Internet and its related technology are nurturing new kinds of creativity through language and motivating child and adults into literature.

Effect of SMS on language

Survey questionnaire

The instrument used for this research is questionnaire, which is adapted from Supyan Hussin (2008).

The questionnaire consists of four parts. Part A is the description about the respondents' background like age, ethnic, gender, mother tongue and status while part B contains the information which covers the uses of abbreviations and short forms among the mobile phone users besides problems in spelling the correct words. On the other hand, part C contains the way how the respondents shorten up some sentences and part D shows whether or not the respondents agree with the corruption of SMS on language.

Among the respondents answered: 10 (33.3%) respondents were between the age of 15 - 20 years old; 11 (36.7%) respondents in the group of 21 - 25 years old; 4 (13.3%) respondents fall in the age group of 26 - 30 years old and the reminder of 5 (16.3%) respondents were above the age of 40 years.

Out of the 30 respondents 11(36.7%) were males while 19(63.3%) were females. Among the respondents surveyed, 9(30%) were Malays, 5(16.7%) Chinese, Indians make up of 40% (or 12 samples) while the other ethnic group were 4(13.3%).

Of the 30 respondents taken, the mother tongue language used was Malay (33.3%), Tamil (33.3%), Chinese (13.3%), while the remainder were English, Dusun, Punjabi. 21(70%) out of 30 respondents taken were still studying, 7(33%) were working while 2 others (6.7%) were both working and studying.

29(96.7%) out of the total samples agreed that they did shorten up the words, use of abbreviation of the words or chunk the words when they use SMS. Only one did not shorten-up the words when using SMS. About 29(96.7%) shorten-up the English words in SMS.

The results for the SMS abbreviation for "How are you?" in English showed that there are only a small number of variations such as "Hw r u?", "H r u", and "How r u?"

SMS abbreviation for "Good morning" in English showed not many variations. Examples of the SMS abbreviation used were "Gd mrg", "morning…", "Gd morning", "Gud morning", and literally "Gd." only.

The response for English SMS abbreviation "I will call you" resulted in the abbreviations such as "I'll cll u", "I'll call u back", I'll col u", "I wll cll u", "I'll call u", I'll kol u", "I'll cal u", "Col u bc", "Wl cl u", "Will cal u", "Call u later". Abbreviation in English showed that they tried to type as few alphabets as possible with some removing the vowel such as a, e, i, o. or type according to the sound of the words in short form. Some opted to change the original abbreviation to "call u later."

Abbreviation for "breakfast" revealed short form for English such as "Bf", "Bfast", "B/fast", "brkfst", "Break1." In this expression it can be seen that the omission of the vowel a, e, i, o, u, in typing the SMS for English texting. However, in English the work "Break" is simply replace by the letter 'B'.

The English SMS for "I love you" showed that the expression can be typed as "I luv u", "Luv u", "I love u", "I lve u", "love u", "ilu", "I ™ U." Here, we can see that in the respondents still try to omit the vowel wherever possible but can still be understood by the receiver.

"Do you want to come with me?" expression has been shorten in English SMS as "Do u 1 2 cme wif me?, "Wanna come wiz me", "Do u want 2 come w me?", or "Do u wanna cum with me?" In some instances the meaning of the abbreviation given may differ from the original intent, such as "Do you want to come with me?" has been changed to "Do you want to follow me?" Alternatively, in English the word "want to" has been change to the numeric 1 and 2.

The last expression of the questionnaire survey form distributed. i.e. "He had an accident last night" showed it can be texted in English as "He hd an xcident lst nite", "He had an accident last nite", "He had N accident last nite", "He met wif acc.last nite", or just "Accdt lst nite."

3.4 Discussion

There was a very high percentage among the respondents who think that SMS will not corrupt the use of language. However, from the 30 respondents, 18 feel otherwise and I totally agree to the fact that SMS corrupts the use of language.

Among the reasons for the corrupt use of the language were: words' written not of the actual spelling, the short messaging contains a lot of spelling error and grammatical mistakes, the receiver may not be able to understand the shortened words sent. There is also the tendency that the texter may over time forget the real spelling of the words and they will tend to use the same way they text the SMS in official or formal letters, thus the language will be corrupted. Another reason given was that as a student, he or she will be influenced to use short form when answering examination questions, which the examiner may penalize them. The use of text language in school assignments has caused some of the academicians to be concerned that the quality of written communication is on the decline and having a hard time controlling the problem (Ishii, Kenichi. 2006). This is further supported by the research findings conducted by Norizah and Siti Zobidah, 2003 who showed that SMS uses affect students' studies. Among the findings was that a female student admitted that her studies were affected because she was so engrossed using SMS while lecturers giving lectures in classes. There is also another tendency that by shortened the words the receiver may miss interpreter the meaning of the text message. Hence, the use of text messaging has changed the way that people talk and write essays, with some believing it to be harmful (Instant Messaging). In contrary, among the 12 respondents who think that shortening the words in SMS would not corrupt one's use of the language. They argued that SMS stands for Short Message Service which requires the sender to convey the message as short as possible due to the limited number of alphabets (160 characters) that can be typed in the message; hence shortening words is the most convenient. This is to fasten the communication. Others said that SMS is just to save the time and money compared to talking over the phone. There were two (2) respondents who were confident that they can distinguish between the correct and wrong spelling of the words used. Hence, using abbreviation in SMS has their pro and cons. It depends on who the person that he/she is communicating, their peer group and the purpose of sending the SMS.


In conclusion, it cannot be denied that hand phone has become more of a necessity than being a luxury item to the community. This is simply because it can be carried and use in anywhere and at any time. Besides being able to make or receiving phone calls, sending SMS has become an integral part the usage. Although sending short text message can be fast, convenient and cheap, however, if it is wrongly used it can cause many social ills as described in the literature reviews. Therefore, it is important for the user to exercise self discipline, able to differentiate between the positive and negative effects when using text messaging. As the saying going: when you own a phone, sending or not sending text messages and how you are going to type and send it is all within your control. Hence, using SMS in its proper manner will definitely enhanced the use of today's latest technology in living and socializing condition.


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