The New English Project Texting Corpus

Texting has entered our lives with such speed and momentum in the last decade that for many of us, it now represents the preferred means of communicating brief, simple messages to others we are away from. On the back of increasingly convenient and versatile mobile technology, it offers a flexible and cheap form of direct contact.

The New English Project Texting Corpus

Texting has entered our lives with such speed and momentum in the last decade that for many of us, it now represents the preferred means of communicating brief, simple messages to others we are away from. On the back of increasingly convenient and versatile mobile technology, it offers a flexible and cheap form of direct contact.  Yet producing a text, as with other types of written communication, involves forming strings of words in sentences, making choices about spelling and style, and deciding what information is needed, and what is not.

Txt Fix from ITV Fixers on Vimeo.

David Crystal in his (2008) book Txtng: the gr8 db8 argues that ‘texting has added a new dimension to language use’ (p.20). However, despite the importance of texting in our everyday lives, we know little about this new dimension beyond the most basic observations.  We are familiar for example, with a number of features of text language: its abbreviated forms, pictograms and (lack of) punctuation. But what do we know of the choices we make as we construct a text message? How are we influenced in what we say by the person we are texting? How do we as individuals vary in the way we text, and why?

In this English Project Texting Corpus, we are aiming to collect a large amount of information about how we text. We are doing this in two ways. In the first phase we have worked in collaboration with ITV Fixers volunteers to collect texts from as wide a range of the public as possible. Our volunteers conducted face-to-face surveys in locations across the South Central region of England. They stopped passers-by and asked them to text a message in a given situation. We are now collecting through a quick and easy online survey which involves you answering a few simple survey questions and composing short messages for any of the three situations given on screen.

Our volunteers have been in Bath to collect data.

How do u txt? from ITV Fixers on Vimeo.

All the answers from the face-to-face survey and the on-line survey will be collated into one large corpus of texting language. This collection will then be available to those interested in studying the language of texting. We are interested in answers to the following questions, for example:

  • How people across generations differ in the way they text
  • How we adjust our text message depending on what we want to say
  • How the content of our message leads to differences in the way we construct our message.

Add your texting DNA to the English Project database by clicking onto the on-line survey now.