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July 21, 2004

Prof says teens' grammar shortcuts OK on blogs, e-mail

Blogging, e-mailing and instant messaging without proper punctuation or correct spelling isn't so bad if it means more teenagers are writing for fun, says a Purdue University professor of English.

Samantha Blackmon

"This kind of critical thinking prepares them for writing at the college level, and it teaches them to think and communicate quickly, which will be expected of them in the real world," says Samantha Blackmon, who studies computers and writing and minority rhetoric. "Grammar rules are more relaxed today because of the frequent use of this electronic shorthand, which has phrases like 'you are' becoming 'UR.'"

Instead of tying up the family phone for hours, more of today's youth are logging on to computer networks to communicate with their friends, Blackmon says. Teenagers are "talking" on blogs, which are online diaries, and through e-mail and instant messaging, also known as "IM-ing."

"I want to see teenagers writing more, and if that means they break a few grammar rules that is OK," Blackmon says. "Grammar is easier to teach in school than critical thinking or the love of writing, and if they can enter school with the latter two of the three, they are ahead of the game."

Blackmon says even the most simple topics can challenge young people's critical thinking skills.

"Yes, children are blogging about their friends and the movie they saw last night, but the forum they are communicating in forces them to write quick, concise responses," she says. "And some are even communicating about what's going on in the world."

CONTACT: Blackmon, (765) 494-3742, sblackmon@sla.purdue.edu