How Short Messaging Services (SMS) influencing our lives
A Study on OUM Students
Short Messaging Services (SMS) are generally understood as texts read on small mobile
phones screens typically capable of presenting 15 to 20 characters per line. The messages are
written with numeric keypad on the phone, normally requiring more than one key press per
character, with messages restricted to 160 characters in length.
It has been classified as a form of communication services within mobile commerce,
grouped together with voice call, MMS, video and e-mail (Harris: 2005) that allows people and
organization to send and receive short text messages from a mobile phone in near real time.
SMS, an almost instantaneous communication medium that connects people, is now a
phenomenon that has grown and spread around the globe at an amazing speed compared to other
types of mobile commerce services.
2.0 Problem and purpose of the study
As a highly interactive medium, Short Messaging Services (SMS) enables the recipient of
the message to reply to it immediately, which establishes a direct dialogue between people due to
its easy function. This enables people to offer personalized, timely and simple information,
which in turn strengthen the people relationship and strengthen the emotional relationship. SMS
owes its popularity to its low cost mode of information delivery and its instantaneous
communication medium which operates on a “store and forward concept”. With the increased
number of mobile subscribers in the world, SMS has gained its popularity and has become an
integral part of people‟s lives (Pastore: 2002, in Lai: 2004) and has significant implications for
communication and information transmission.
Using of SMS, there is advantage and in the same time there is also disadvantage to the
people as user. The advantage of this is we as SMS users can easily relate to our love ones or
other people in any part of the world as long as there is a phone signal, and also it is the fastest
way of sending messages and information. But we can‟t hide also the fact that by using cell
phone we might somehow destroy our language because by using SMS the correct spelling
would become wrong spelling and later on, if we fit to write that kind of format then we might
write it up even in a formal writings.
The study will attempt to answer the following research question. Do SMS activities
second handedly put aside the usage of our standard national language. In what way SMS corrupt
the language? What are the factors involved? Based on the aforesaid research question, the
following research methodology approaches are developed, to determine factors influencing the
adoption of short messaging services and its effects to our national language and some mother
tongue languages to survive.
The purpose of the study is to identify the issues and concerns people about in what way
Short Messaging Services (SMS) corrupts the language in Malaysia. There were 4 sections in the
questionnaire that focusing on the following areas:
2. SMS Activities
3. SMS abbreviations
4. Statement on agree or disagree
5. Opinion of the respondents
The questionnaire was administered during monthly class session via convenient
sampling to one Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) class in Open University of
Malaysia (OUM) Ipoh Branch campus. The survey was piloted to a specific group of 32 students
consist of 12 male and 20 female.
Of the 32 questionnaires handed out, 30 were returned, a 94 percent response rate. The
questionnaire was based on answers to qualitative with three and four point interval-scaling
questions. (See Appendix 1 for an example of the questionnaire administered).
4.0 Respondents Demographics
A total of 30 questionnaires were returned. Of this total, 18 respondents were female
(45.0 percent) and 12 were male (55.0 percent). Out of that, 11 respondents were in age ranges of
26-30 years old (53.3 percent), 6 respondents were in 31-35 years old (20.0 percent), 5
respondents were in 36-40 years old (16.6 percent) while 8 respondents were in the range above
40 years old (10.0 percent).
Ethnic diversity consists of 15 Malays respondents (50.0 percent), 9 respondent were
Chinese (30.0 percent) and 6 respondents (20.0) were Indian while almost 75 percent of the
respondents were working adult and 15 percent were students
Respondents Demographic (Age Ranges)
5 26-30 years old
31-35 years old
36-40 years old
11 above 40 years old
5.0 SMS Activities
Survey questions also concerned about Short Messaging Services (SMS) activities and
interaction. The questionnaire addressed the importance given to interaction and activities of
SMS users, which affects what kind of language style, preference and method that been used.
The implied definition of standard of language interaction and whether the respondent agrees on
the statement that whether SMS corrupted the language or revive it. Survey shown almost 99.9
percent of the respondents do own and use SMS technology in their hand phone. When asked
whether the respondents shorten up words and abbreviate the words or chunk the words in
Bahasa Melayu, Mother tongue and English, almost 99.9 percent answer yes.
It is quite alarming because the 99.9 percent of the respondent also SMS in other
language and mix up more than one language in their SMS usage. This shown that language used
in SMS is totally corrupted and this way of method of SMS language is considered „acceptable‟
by them. When asked, „will SMS help to revive respondent‟s mother tongue language?‟ 15
percent agreed while 80 percent of the respondent disagreed with the statement. Only 5 percent
stated it is non applicable with the survey needs. See Chart 2
“Will SMS help to revive respondent mother tongue language?”
6.0 Short Messaging Services (SMS) Abbreviations
The feedback finding from respondents‟ Short Messaging Services (SMS) abbreviations
has shown that almost 95 percent of the respondents did have the skills to shorten and mix up
languages of Mother tongue, Bahasa Melayu and English to an extent of becoming new language
of SMS. When asked on why there a need to shorten up words, most of the comment stated that
it is due to the language of SMS which is highly structured and theme-focused. The character
limit of the message forces the users to stick to the topic. The composition of the message is the
end product of rigorous pruning as the SMS message is designed to save space and effort.
Other comments from the respondents are the usage of contractions and clippings as the
essential and stylistic features of the language of SMS. To the users, the constraint of space
makes clippings essential for SMS messages. The use of letter-number homophones is quite
common in the language of SMS. Instead of writing the word to the sender of an SMS message
writes the numerical 2.
Other opinion stated that the behavioral dimension of SMS makes the language private
rather than public. As the messages are meant for the users alone the nature of the SMS messages
are often in the form of greetings, invitations, congratulations or jokes. Therefore, the language
of SMS is dependence on the context.
7.0 Agree or Disagree
Identifying whether Short Messaging Service (SMS) has corrupted the language or not,
respondents were asked to respond with yes or no answers, and elaborate in point their
arguments in relation to the question. See Chart 3 for comparison.
Agree or Disagree
The survey has shown that 85 percent of the respondents agree that SMS corrupts the
language. They stated their opinions that technology is corrupting the language and the SMS
culture is promoting rampant illiteracy across the globe. The SMS mode of communication has
not only corrupted the language, but has also sparked a trend of unusually spelt words that are
being used in formal environment such as resumes and exams paper. SMS lingo has also invaded
the usually standard and meticulous social system and communications.
15 percent of the respondents say no to the statement. They argue that there is no harm in
using SMS, as long as the message is clear, and these days everyone does understand the
commonly used SMS language. To them, change is often met with suspicion, and the rapidly
raging SMS culture is no exception. As the world and its inhabitant goes 'mobile', the hand
phone's most-loved feature, SMS will always be the handiest tool of communication. The
technology has fostered creativity among the young people using SMS for transmitting
messages. SMS has ushered in a new stage in the evolution of the written language.
Short Messaging Services (SMS) as a kind of communication seems to be much practical.
What one will gain money and time but what he or she will lose is more expensive than that. The
user when writing a message would give no importance to the rules of the language he 0r she
uses. What he/she is interested in is to compose a message quickly and fast where he/she must be
able to explain his idea otherwise it will cost him or her money. In fact SMS whispers a major
risk to national language and the mother tongue language.
The language of SMS is highly structured and theme focused. The character limit of the
message forces the sender and the receiver to stick on the topic. This permits a tolerance of
typographical error and the relaxation of the rules of spelling, punctuation and capitalization. The
language of SMS is nearer to the spoken rather than the written variety and a feeling of
psychological nearness that prompts the sender of the SMS to use colloquial and informal style
of language. This will surely have a great impact on the national language. People today are so
influenced by the new type of communication.
Almost the majority of the respondents (85:15) agree by apprehensive of the SMS
technology is corrupting the language. The rest of the respondent seems to agree that this SMS
technology has fostered creativity among the young people using SMS to send messages. To
them, this creativity can be seen in very restricted linguistic domain of SMS. SMS is aims to
immensely empowering, individualistic, creative medium as can be seen from numerous
excremental ways in which people use it.
The phenomenon of SMS messaging is going to change the way we as human think about
language in fundamental way, because it is a linguistic singularity, a genuine new medium.
Certainly it would make its traces on language. One may wonder whether SMS language will
leave its traces and will be a standard language as the other ones or simply be forgotten one day
as technology progresses.
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