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Study proves text slang is a big turn-off for twenty-somethings

Texting is, without a doubt, the calling-card of our generation. It is one of the most commonly used forms of modern communication, and is acceptable to use when engaging in conversations regarding virtually anything.

Acronym-style terms ranging from “LOL” to “L8TER,” are acceptable in everyday texting conversations — or so we thought.

According to a new “Digital Flirting Rules” survey conducted by Omlet, a super chat app developed by Stanford students, this acceptance may not be as prevalent as perceived. In fact, the app reported that most men and women in their teens to early twenties consider an overuse of informal spelling their number 1 biggest turnoff when texting or online chatting.

Both men and women say that lack of grammar, excessive punctuation, and text slang are a turn-off.

Both men and women say that lack of grammar, excessive punctuation and text slang are a turn-off.

To conduct the survey, Omlet surveyed 1,000 teens and young adults ranging from ages 13-25 to ask their opinions on “text speak.” The results for each category were eye opening.

According to the Omlet app, the fifth biggest “digital flirting” turn off for guys was using excessive slang. Receiving messages containing “LOL, BRB and WTF,” had a 30% disapproval rate. Francesco Levato, an English studies doctoral student at Illinois State University, said that acronyms spawned from the history of early text messaging and have been carried over into today’s communication.

“Early text messaging plans from cellular service providers limited the number of characters you could send in one text and charged you for each message sent or received,” Levato said.

“Typing on early devices was physically difficult due to small keyboards or alphanumeric keypads. Punctuation marks were just as difficult to enter. Abbreviations, lack of punctuation, and use of lowercase letters evolved from early limitations.”

The survey results regarding all lower case texts were similar to the abbreviation findings, with 34% of men disapproving. “I don’t mind getting texts in all lowercase,” junior Charles Blount said, “but I like punctuation.”

Multiple exclamation points in chat messages were number 3 for guys, with a 50% disapproval rate. “I like multiple exclamations used in moderation. I do like it, though, when a girl seems really excited to spend time,” Blount said.

53% of men disapproved lack of punctuation and grammar, as well as funky or informal spelling at 54%. Despite this result, Levato sees grammar and texting from a more complex standpoint.

“This is more complicated than it might seem on the surface,” he said. “For me, it isn’t a matter of approval or disapproval, but of recognition of texting as a genre whose conventions have evolved in response to a complex set of interactions between technology and its users.”

For girls, certain results were drastically different from guys. 52% of girls disapprove of messages during sleep hours. Junior, Audrey Sanders, thinks otherwise. “I like late night texts,” she said. “It shows that someone is thinking about you, and it’s not a call so it won’t necessarily disturb your sleep.”

Receiving messages in all lower case warranted a 53% disapproval rating from women. Unlike the much smaller rating from men, girls disapprove of excessive slang by 57%.

Summer Qabazard, a professor in the Department of English, seems at ease with texting slang and punctuation.

“I assume the sender is using whatever format they feel most comfortable putting their words into in the moment of writing,” she said. “And I’m good with that.”

“I don’t mind whether people use standard spelling and punctuation or not when they text me,” Qabazard said. “As long as I can understand the message.”

With a whopping 90% disapproval rating on funky or informal spelling. Sanders agrees with these figures, saying, “I like grammar and punctuation in texts,” she said. “I feel if you don’t use it, things can easily become misconstrued and miscommunication can occur.”

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