The paper claims text messaging has evolved to develop its own rules of correct usage when it comes to the written word
In the year where a yellow face crying tears of joy was deemed to be the word of the year, researchers at a US university have confirmed a long-held suspicion that finishing off sentences with punctuation in text messages makes the sender look insincere and mean.
"Text messaging is one of the most frequently used computer-mediated communication (CMC) methods,” the study, published in ‘Computers in Human Behavior’ journal, claims.
“The rapid pace of texting mimics face-to-face communication, leading to the question of whether the critical non-verbal aspects of conversation, such as tone, are expressed in CMC."
To examine how bothered people were by correct punctuation, the Binghampton University researchers examined the reactions of 126 undergraduate students to a series of written messages. The exchanges were described as either text messages or handwritten notes.
In the messages, when an question posed as an invitation to a social event was met with a short reply that was followed by a full stop, the subjects judged the expression of the text to be less insincere than when no punctuation was included. When the subjects were shown handwritten notes, there was no discernible difference between the two.
Celia Klin, one of the project’s researchers, claims that this is an indication that communicating via instant messaging has taken on its own codified linguistic rules meaning that it is no longer correct usage to end a sentence with a full stop. In another study, yet to be published, the team concluded that messages ending with exclamation marks come across as more sincere than ones with none at all.
"Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations. When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on," Klin said in a statement.
"People obviously can't use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation."