Like OMG, what’s going on with words today? LOL.

The human vocabulary is a very important part of how people communicate with each other, and the clarity of somebody’s words can easily determine how well they are able to get a message across. For example, William Shakespeare, who’s works everybody is bound to study at least once in their lifetime, had a vocabulary of roughly 18,000 to 25,000 words per each individual play or literary work, which makes sense; Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers there has ever been. ‘But what does media and technology have to do with any of this?’, you may ask. Well, as it turns out, it may very well be the reason that the average adolescent’s vocabulary is rapidly decreasing.

The growing amount of technology that enables people to send instant messages, either through text or social media sites, is continuously increasing. For example, Facebook users world-wide are estimated to send a combined 3 million chat messages to one another per every 20 minutes. That’s a lot of messages! No wonder people are turning to the convenient and simple text abbreviations such as ‘LOL’ and ‘OMG’. But for some who have become accustomed to this way of speaking, it can be hard to differentiate between formal and informal language.

There have been, unfortunately, numerous recorded examples of teenagers submitting formal essays and other assessment pieces worldwide that contain these text abbreviations. For instance, in 2003, at least 10 years ago, a girl in Scotland was reported to have handed in a written piece consisting purely of ‘text language’. Alongside text language, the use of emoticons means there is less demand for people to elaborate on what they are feeling or thinking, as it can be summed up by an image smaller than the size of your thumb.

A vocabulary can effect a number of aspects of a person’s life, whether it be the general knowledge they have, or even their overall employability. And, as previously mentioned, the decrease of the span of words known to adolescence has been found to be the case in many situations. It is believed that the American teenagers of the 1950’s had a vocabulary of 25,000 words overall in comparison to those in the year 2000, who had 10,000 words up their sleeves.

So for all of you who may be reading this, be brave and see how you can expand your vocabulary. Who knows? You might just end up becoming the next Shakespeare.


References 2014. Google Answers: adolescents’ vocabularies. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

Auslan Cramb, S. C. 2003. Girl writes English essay in phone text shorthand – Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014]. 2014. Tip for the week – Axioun Communications International. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

Mail Online. 2014. The teens who can barely talk – they only have an 800 word vocabulary. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

Much., 5. 2014. 500 TEXTING word essays? Not so much. | Teen Opinion Essay. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

Resmovits, J. 2014. National Vocabulary Test Sheds Light On Reading ‘Crisis’, Experts Say. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014]. 2014. Facebook Statistics | Statistic Brain. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014]. 2014. Text Messaging, Chat Abbreviations and Social Shorthand Lingo – Webopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

wiseGEEK. 2014. What are Emoticons?. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].

World Wide Words. 2014. World Wide Words: How Many Words?. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 4 Mar 2014].