Class Year


Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

Benjamin Smith

Second Advisor

Thomas Porcello


This project explores a new register of language called ‘textese,’ which has developed as a result of text messaging via cell phones. I research how and why textese is being used, to understand how text messages are linguistically affecting the English language in novel ways. Possible influences in the rise of textese include limitations with the cellphone itself, and inspiration from previous media such as postcards and telegrams. I also outline the various ‘textisms,’ or lexical shortenings, that exist in textese, and the idea of orality within this written medium. I then contrast this data with information collected from a campus-wide survey at Vassar about students’ texting habits. I find that Vassar students do not use textese in teh ways that have been previously documented, and in fact do not even see textese as appropriate in certain contexts. I also explain how Vassar students are using textese in new and undocumented ways, such as irony, sarcasm, or as pragmatic markers, and speculate as to why my results are different from previous texting studies.