In a world filled with instant messaging, texts and tweets, it seems the need for proper rules of written communication have been tossed aside in the interest of brevity. We've become quite proficient at summing up an entire day's activities in 50 characters or less. But what impact does this have on our ability to use properly written communication skills when we need to and are those skills as necessary as they used to be?
Several studies have been conducted addressing this exact issue. One such study entitled "Texting, techspeak, and tweens: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills" found that tweens who frequently used techspeak (abbreviated language adaptations) while texting scored worse than others on a grammar test. However, their ability to use correct capitalization and punctuation seemed unaffected.
The concept of making an impression is a valid one. A college instructor has several weeks to assess a student's understanding of writing concepts, but what about a potential employer?
Caitlin Wright, HR Recruiter for a large business services provider, says, "As a Recruiter, when I look at a resume and/or cover letter, I see it as a candidate's introduction, a way of saying, 'look at me and how great my skill set will fit your need.' When there are misspelled words, poor grammar or lack of an outlined structure, it is perceived as a lack of attention to detail."
When questioned specifically about whether or not the tendency to shortcut and abbreviate written communication rears its ugly head in the hiring process, Wright noted, "With today's technology, candidates often respond from a phone on the go rather than a computer, dedicating less time to what they're writing, and it shows. More often than not, these responses come back with short answers and lack formality. While this will not cancel the candidate's chances for a role, it will be reviewed not only by me but by my hiring team as well."
So what does all this say about the increasing tendency to use techspeak and the impact it may have on future communications? I'd say that although it is probably not the end of the English language as we know it, it is perhaps a trend that could ultimately influence the evolution of our language. After all, "ain't" now appears in dictionaries, and the definition of "literally" now includes its exact opposite. Both of these outcomes are a result of widespread and long-term misuse.
Until that happens, however, I'd advise you to be mindful of your audience. If you really want that "A" or need that job, dnt 4get 2 dot ur is and x ur ts!