'SMS language' or 'textspeak' was popularised due in the 90s due to the use of phones with numeric keypads. However, most smartphones these days come with autocorrect / autocomplete which outputs correct spellings for any word.

What I'm interested in finding out is whether there has been any study or otherwise data which can tell whether usage of textspeak is on the decline (due to autocorrect or other reasons), rising, or static from previous years.

EDIT: I didn't mean that autocorrect would necessarily correct textspeak into correct spellings. My hypothesis is that with most phones presenting full QWERTY keyboards (on screen) with autocorrect, are people still sticking to textspeak? I think not, but I was looking for something to prove or disprove my hypothesis.

  • (I'm not sure whether this question is on-topic for this site or better suited somewhere else like English.SE.) Dec 4 '12 at 0:17
  • As you can see from the votes and lack of close votes (which you can't see but well...), your question is on topic for us. :) By the way, were you asking for references (i.e. papers) or more like explanations (with references included of course)? In case your focus was more to ask for research papers, then you can include the tag reference-request, instead if you didn't want to do that, your question is fine as is. :)
    – Alenanno
    Dec 4 '12 at 11:30
  • Research papers would be great, but if not any other explanations would be useful too! Dec 4 '12 at 20:23
  • 1
    Anecdotally, I personally did not start using SMS until after a smart enough phone was available to me at least partly because typing was too awkward on a phone keypad and I didn't see enough value in SMS to justify the effort. With full keyboard and predictions, even with its auto-incorrect tendencies, I now use SMS a lot more. I suspect for that certain age group who grew up with correct usage emphasized and was exposed to email (possibly on dialup) before SMS I am not alone. Your hypothesis seems plausible.
    – RBerteig
    Apr 4 '13 at 18:23

I think your question raises a question whether existing auto-correction functions have sufficient knowledge of abbreviated forms to accurately offer an alternative. I suspect that they won't understand some abbreviated forms -the hallmark of 'textspeak'- and may offer corrections when it is not appropriate. So on this point, textspeak is unlikely to be declining, but the possibility for seemingly incomprehensible messages -characterised by erratic words, correctly spelled, but confusing the sense of the message- may be on the increase.

The most likely scenario, given the ability of auto-correctors to 'learn' vocabulary, is that after exposure to new forms or being instructed to learn the 'new' word the textspeak words will be available.

There is a paper, A Character-Level Machine Translation Approach for Normalization of SMS Abbreviations, that describes a translation system for textspeak, which, while not entirely pertinent to your question, may give some further thoughts to you.

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