Short messaging service or commonly known as SMS is an essential tool for humans nowadays. SMS is 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.
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.
Replacing words with only alphabets:
B – be
C – see
D – the
2.1.2 Replacing/Mixing words with numbers:
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
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
😀 – laughing
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.
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). 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.