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…Go!

January 11, 2010

Got up at 6:30 this morning to attend the EVO Kick-Off hosted by Worldbridges’ Jeff Lebow at http://webheadsinaction.org. I couldn’t help remembering how it felt four years ago, the first time I attended a similar synchronous session. (I probably missed the Kick-Off in 2006 because I would not have been aware it was happening!) At that time, everything was so new and strange. This time I knew at least half of the people in the chatroom and in the Skype call. As a co-moderator, I joined the Skype call briefly to talk about our session. (I was glad Vance was there as well, and Jennifer came early but then had to leave.)

Later I spent several hours reading and responding to YG posts, and I started re-reading Chapter 1 of From Blogs to Bombs. It’s the one where Pegrum quotes the Scottish teenager’s “My Summer Vacation” essay which begins, “My summr hols wr CWOT….” I could figure out “My summr hols wr” but got stuck on “CWOT” (turns out it means “[a] complete waste of time”). As an ESL teacher, I have never encountered students writing like that, but my students do tend to say things like “How r u?”, which drives me crazy. I usually tell them to humor their English teacher and write the words out. Still, I find myself using acronyms/abbreviations such as afk, lol, brb, f2f and various smiley faces and emoticons, especially when chatting at Tapped In but also in emails to friends. Pegrum’s points seems to be (1) rather than criticizing, we should be helping students to see that txtspk is not always appropriate to the writing situation, and (2) txtspk may be the future. My husband pointed out that voice recognition software may soon render txtspk unnecessary, as we will no longer have to use a keyboard to enter what we wish to say.

txtspk is like a dialect of English. Standard English is a medium calculated to reach a wide audience, whereas txtspk’s audience is more restricted to digital natives and a few others who can decipher it. Students need to know how to reach the wider audience, and they need to be able to assess the communicative situation so that they can decide whether to use the standard dialect or not.

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