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Cambridge professor claims art of essay-writing damaged by Twitter and Facebook

21 Jan 2013

Even pupils from top ranking schools who have won places to study at elite universities now struggle to master the English language when writing, according to Professor David Abulafia.

He said that essay skills were “going down the plug hole” as so much of teenagers’ writing today was on social networking websites, where the style used is vastly different.

He cited Twitter, which limits messages to just 140 characters, for leading to “very compressed” language, which ignored the rules of grammar and encourages users to leave out personal pronouns, articles and punctuation.

For brevity, users of such sites also opt for abbreviations such as “u” for “you” and the use of letters for words, such as “4” for “for”. Examiners have reported encountering the “text language” in exams.

Many universities have been forced to run remedial classes in English to try and bring new students up to degree level standard.

Prof Abulafia, a historian at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, said:

People no longer know how to write. It is a society in which fewer and fewer people read.

What they do write tends to be short messages in a sort of meta-language, with meta-spelling, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Read the full story at The Telegraph.

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