SMS Texting among GSM Users in Nigeria: A morpho-Syntactic Analysis

Ifeoma M. Nweze


The gradual shift from the offline to online communication such as text messaging has given way to innovative language-short forms whose morph-syntactic aspects have permeated the linguistic characters of the texters. For about a decade now, there exist a growing body of research on mobile phone text messaging by linguists but only very few have been done in the area of morpho-syntax. The work therefore, examines the aspects of morphology and syntax found in SMS text messages. It adopts a combination of Chomsky (1957) Transformational and Silverstein (1976) Meta pragmatic theories. Through the move-a rule and the pragmatic method of analysis, the study discovers that there are morpho-syntactic variations among texters which are problematic to formal English. It also reveals that movement of constituents from one slot to the other is a common feature in text messages though some of such movements violates move-a rules. Other syntactic differences are reflected in form of subject/agent, object, determiner, to-infinitive deletions/omissions. Word-order violations, contractions, abbreviations, acronyms, compounding, blends and lack of punctuation also characterize morpho-syntactic elements in SMS texts. Morphologically, there is no hard and fast rule with regards to the users’ choice of letters in abbreviation. Texters use a combination of letters and numbers in their text messages and in some cases they use only numerals. The texters obviously down-play the orthographic and syntactic rules of the formal English language for their convenience.

Keywords: SMS texts, Nigeria, mobile phone, morpho-syntactic analysis.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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