Since you only have 140 characters, Twitter encourages brevity, and that includes acronyms, lopping off words, and plenty of slang. Also consider the fact that many people use Twitter on their phones and equate tweet-speak with text-speak, and it’s no surprise that people aren’t exactly using Shakespearean English in their tweets.
Social media monitoring company Brandwatch recently released research that confirms that Twitter users don’t exactly care about proper spelling and grammar. In fact, Brandwatch calls Twitter the “least literate social platform,” which is pretty remarkable considering it’s also the platform that places the most emphasis on text.
Brandwatch’s study found that Twitter users misspell .56 percent of their words, which – wait a minute. .56 percent? Considering how many people just can’t get a handle on “definitely,” that’s not so bad. That’s an A on a test where I’m from, which is AMERICA. Actually, though, Brits are even better than their U.S. counterparts, and only misspell .53 percent of their Twitter words.
With tweets like these, it seems like the number should be way higher:
— King AC (@LADaBoss615) October 21, 2012
That is not .56 percent, for the record.
Women are more likely to deviate from common spelling than men, according to Brandwatch’s findings, and they tend to elongate words like “soo,” “lool,” “aww,” and “oh,” carrying the verbal fry common among younger women in their digital lives. Men tend to truncate words, and use “gonna,” “imma,” and “wanna.”
Even though Twitter users are the worst offenders by Brandwatch’s count, it’s some pretty ridiculous research to begin with. After all, tweets are supposed to be casual and informal, and that means it’s accepted and expected to write in a lower register. And when you look at the most common mistakes, they’re not really indicative of awful spelling. The first most common error is with apostrophes, which in real life writing is a terrible offense. But many people leave apostrophes out of their tweets when the simply don’t have enough room, and that’s not so bad – again, it’s sort of the nature of the Twitter game to conserve character count. And the second most common spelling mistake is acronym use – which is hardly a mistake at all! Acronyms are an important part of Twitter-talk, and they’re helpful in getting your point across quickly. #SMH, Brandwatch. Additionally, Brandwatch said that Twitter users have improved their spelling each year (possibly helped when Twitter introduced spellcheck to its search bar in 2012).
So even though Twitter users came up short, this is a clear indication that rampant social media use isn’t totally destroying the way we communicate. And that this was a really silly study.