The texting record

I found David Crystal’s remarks about the ‘language’ of texting in Words, Words, Words refreshing, having been in a couple of conversations recently where folks were complaining about it. “Texting language is totally appropriate for its setting” he says. And goes on to note “New genres add to the expressive potential of a language”. To illustrate he quotes the winners of The Guardian Text Message Poetry Competition, including:
I left my picture on th ground wher u walk
so that somday if th sun was jst right
& the rain didnt wash me awa
u might c me out of th corner of yr i & pic me up
(Emma Passmore)
Now, I hope that some libraries somewhere are collecting examples of texting as it seems to me that it is an important part of current cultural expression.
Indeed, I suggested in my remarks [ppt] at the LIBER Think Tank on the future value of the book artefact and the future value of digital documentary heritage [pdf] that The Urban Dictionary was an important cultural document which should be periodically captured. I have not checked if anybody is doing this ….

4 thoughts on “The texting record”

  1. it’s a neat poem, but i don’t know if that’s enough to say that texting is an important part of cultural expression. it strikes me more as a niche, which doesn’t devalue the work in itself, but i think the broad assertion is dubious. maybe it will be someday, and as a form, it puts forward some interesting limitations and challenges for the artist. i think that cultural importance is something that is proven over time as impacts are felt.

  2. David Crystal is a great speaker. He’s unstuffy and realistic about language and its process of constant renewal, and thinks that we’re too hung-up about rules (grammar, etc). On the other hand, he’s all for preserving minority languages too, and argues passionately for money and effort to be spent in so doing. This is where my own path diverges from his. If one believes in constant renewal, then part of that evolution, surely, is to allow natural wastage to occur. Humanity needs to learn to let go. A difficult thing for librarians and archivists. We shouldn’t expect to have it all, and to keep everything; selection is essential. Texting is a vernacular which I, personally,would be happy to allow to proceed through its natural evolution without intervention.

  3. A clarification: I wasn’t trying to say that the poem qua poem was a cultural expression. It was just meant as an example of the use of texting.
    I think that the issue here is that to understand an important part of expression we need to understand texting.
    Now, it may be true as Carole suggests that texting is fugitive. But we see around us forms influenced by it in other media.

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