Language use patterns in electronic messaging have the potential to reveal much about the vocabulary corpus, syntax, and general proficiency of non-native users. This is of relevance to teachers as learners’ academic performance and success is dependent on English language proficiency, especially in higher education. Using a mixed methods approach, this study examines the English language use characteristics evident in the morphosyntactic and paralinguistic features such as clipping, neologisms, language deformation in a corpus of text messages totalling 3600 words from class conversations of 68 EFL undergraduate students at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. Patterns of Twitter messaging (named Twitterese in this study) using the GroupTweet function of the app were studied as it is easier for group members to follow one account rather than rely on hashtags of each and every peer. Findings show that the participants exhibit remarkable English language proficiency as they use novel (and sometimes complex) language forms including modified/ deformed spelling, syntax, word selection, and massive abbreviations. Moreover, amongst the morphosyntactic features under study, the highest number of non-standard use/deformities were seen in deletion or overuse of punctuation marks, Verb use (38% non-standard), occurrence of non-standard English in the form of phonetic replacement of words (62%), non-standard spelling with deletion of vowels inside the word (59%), a departure from norm that appears to be intentional (for example, abl* for able), massive clipping in the form of abbreviations, acronyms, and shortening of words. Voluntary interviews with thirteen participants helped gather specific data on the language acquisition, communicative proficiency, and general confidence in language use that the participants claimed was attributable to Twitterese. The study concludes that while this variety of language is not a substitute for Standard English, it adds to the language corpus of the users and aids their communicative proficiency.
Saleh Aljafen, Bandar
"Tweeting by Saudi EFL Learners: A Study of English in Use at Qassim University,"
Information Sciences Letters: Vol. 12
, PP -.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.aaru.edu.jo/isl/vol12/iss4/44