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Finnish and UK English pre-teen children's text message language and its relationship with their literacy skills

Authors


Beverly Plester, Psychology Department, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, UK CV1 5FB. Email: b.plester@coventry.ac.uk

Abstract

The aim of the study was to demonstrate the style of text language used by Finnish pre-teen texters (n = 65) and determine how their text language related to their traditional literacy skills, and compare descriptively these results with earlier results from work with young English texters. Three kinds of text messages (natural texts, elicited texts and elicited replies) were recorded after cognitive and literacy skills were assessed. Relationships between text language and standard literacy skills were shown to be different between the two languages, and we propose that those differences arise from both the structures of the languages themselves, and the communities of linguistic practice in the two countries. We compared, with a subsample (n = 16), natural, spontaneous text messages with those elicited in experimental conditions, demonstrating metalinguistic sensitivity in these young texters. The conclusion regarding the Finnish text register is that it very closely approximates spoken register Finnish, rather than more formal written Finnish.

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