A research study by a Birmingham University student on text messaging has landed her a PhD. Her thesis? It was on how, when it comes to SMS language, people use more unnecessary words than abbreviations while typing messages on their cellphones.
In her three-and-a-half year research, Dr. Caroline Tagg studied the subject of SMS text messaging and the language used in texts, and found that people even used SMS to regale recipients about finding a trivial thing like a pen lid.
She discovered that people text in the same way as if they were talking, using unnecessary words such as 'oh', 'erm' and often use grammatical abbreviations like 'dunno'.
The 33-year-old researcher recruited a team of friends and family to help undertake the doctorate.
They sent her all the texts they sent and received, which she stored in a database and analysed.
In total, she read 11,000 text messages, containing 190,000 words, sent by 235 people.
"It was a long haul but that is normal. I believe it is the first PhD in the UK to look at the language of text messaging," she said.
"There is a panic in the media about the effect of text messaging and people are genuinely worried about it.
"It is perceived to have a negative impact on language but a lot of people don't really look at the text," she added.
Caroline analysed spelling, grammar and abbreviations used in social and business texts.
She said that the average text contains 17.5 words.
And from her 80,000 word thesis, she discovered that there is more to texting that just abbreviations.
"Actually, not many people use abbreviations. People use playful manipulation and metaphors. It is a playful language. Not only are they quite creative, it is also quite expressive," she said.
"It was interesting to be able to research a number of linguistic methods and frameworks and apply them to the text message, because the text messages were quite fun. It was enlightening," she added.
One example of an almost 'pointless and waffly' text she analysed read: "Hi. I know you are at work but I just wanted you to know I found my pen lid."
Another, more creative text read: "I will be there not on the dot' when talking about being somewhere on time.