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Teens' IM Talk A-OK: Study

The slang and abbreviations used for instant messaging are not hurting the speech or grammar of teens, according to a study in Canada.

The slang and abbreviations used for instant messaging are not hurting the speech or grammar of teens, according to a study in Canada.

"Everybody thinks kids are ruining their language by using instant messaging, but these teens' messaging shows them expressing themselves flexibly through all registers," linguist Sali Tagliamonte said in a prepared statement. "They actually show an extremely lucid command of the language. We shouldn't worry."

Researchers at the University of Toronto report that IM does not deserve its bad reputation as a syntax spoiler. Tagliamonte and Derek Denis studied about 70 Toronto teens and compared their use of language in speech and instant messaging. They presented their findings at the Linguistics Society of Canada and the United States annual meeting Wednesday.

According to the researchers, 80 percent of Canadian teens use instant messaging and adopt its shorthand. The study found that instant messaging language mirrors patterns in speech but teens fuse informal and formal speech. It concluded that adverse claims about instant messaging are overblown.

"Teens are using both informal forms that their English teachers would never allow, yet they also use formal writing phrasing that, if used in speech, would likely be considered 'uncool," the researchers said through a statement released Monday.

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