Original Research

The structure and features of the SMS language used in the written work of Communication English I students at a university in South Africa

Chaka Chaka, Mampa L. Mphahlele, Charles C. Mann
Reading & Writing | Vol 6, No 1 | a83 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v6i1.83 | © 2015 Chaka Chaka, Mampa L. Mphahlele, Charles C. Mann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 March 2015 | Published: 04 November 2015

About the author(s)

Chaka Chaka, Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Mampa L. Mphahlele, Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Charles C. Mann, Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Employing an explanatory design, this study set out to investigate the morphosyntactic structures of the SMS language of Communication English I students, and the types of SMS language features used in their written work at a university of technology in South Africa. The study randomly sampled 90 undergraduate students (M = 40; F = 50) enrolled for a national diploma programme during the first academic semester in 2013. Their ages ranged from 19–22 years; they all spoke English as a second language, whilst having one of the five black South African languages as their home language. The study had two types of data: participants’ mobile phone text messages (in two sets), and their writing samples. Two of the findings of the study are: the morphological structure of the textisms used in the participants’ text messages deviated from that applicable to formal, standard English, whereas much of their syntactic structure did not; and, the frequency and proportion of textisms in participants’ writing samples were lower than that reported in studies by Freudenberg (2009) and Rosen et al. (2010).

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