Textisms, grammatical features and sentence types in the SMS and IM paragraphs of EFAL learners

Chaka Chaka


This study investigated the writing of short message service (SMS) and instant message (IM) paragraphs through mobile phones by 29 participants. The latter were Grade 8a English first additional language learners at a junior secondary school in Mthatha. Participants were assigned two topics – one on each paragraph mode - from which they had to produce the two specified modes of paragraphs. The two activities occurred outside of the normal school hours for a day each. Employing a case study design and using voluntary and criterion sampling techniques, the study had four research questions, two of which were: what is the length of SMS and IM paragraphs produced by participants on the two topics they are given to write about?; and what types of textisms will participants use in their SMS and IM paragraphs, and what will be the density of such textisms? Some of the findings of the study are as follows: participants’ SMS and IM paragraphs displayed linguistic and contextual textisms, and errors in varying degrees; SMS paragraphs had more contextual textisms than IM paragraphs, while the latter had more linguistic textisms than the former; the overall textism density for both paragraph modes was lower vis-à-vis the total word count in both cases; and IM paragraphs had more compound and complex sentences than SMS paragraphs.


SMSs and MIMs; textisms; textism length and density; grammatical features; sentence types

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/31-3-597


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