Modern Trends in Writing for Children


A Study by

Ya’qoub Al-Sharouni



The Controversy of Language, Digital Media, and Writing for Children


Linguists across Europe and USA wonder nowadays would lenient linguistic standards of emails and chat change writing and spelling. How would the language used by children through digital media affect language and the children’s taste of it and consequently the style of writing for children?

*Writing, face-to-face interaction, and netspeak:

Tim Berners Lee; inventor of World Wide Web says: “The web is more a social creation than a technical one.” He adds that people communicate digitally as easily as they do face-to-face. Researchers point out that netspeak differs from written speech and face-to-face dialogue and it is growing into a new type of writing. Whereas language is a living being, it is hard to predict which new entries shall continue to exist in this emerging language.

Therefore, Oxford Dictionary of English, which has recognized hundreds of terms starting with (e-) like e-text and e-book, engages around twenty experts whose mission is to agree that a new word has become so widespread that it can be said to have entered the language and consequently can be added to the dictionary.

A considerable number of researchers call netspeak “the written speech”, or “written conversation/ dialogue”. Some experts even advise whoever types on a screen to: “write exactly like people talk”. However, how far can we go writing a conversation when all we have is a keyboard of merely some alphabet, numbers, and some scattered symbols? How could our media (computers) allow us to express in writing important aspects of any conversation like intonations or facial expressions? Which kind of speech are we supposed to type on screen, given that the world consists of different types of people who speak in many different ways?

In fact, there are multiple differences between net speak and face-to-face conversations. There is no electronic equivalent for facial expressions and intonations, which can have a decisive role in a face-to-face interaction. In traditional writing, we use some letters or punctuation marks to express some intonations like (!!!/ …/ ??/ LOL/ hahaha/ sure!!! ). Besides, netspeak deficiency to express facial expressions has led to the introduction of emoticons.

Now the question is would those emerging trends in language affect the way we write for children in their books and magazines and on screen? Western studies show that netspeak is more than the sum of written and spoken features; it is rather a new kind of communication, which delivers as little information as required, avoids ambiguity, and is brief and systematic. However, it has not grown into a new language yet.

As for Arabic, children and the youth are growingly using colloquial dialects, neglecting grammatical and spelling rules, and misusing punctuations. It is highly recommended that studies and researches be conducted about handling negative effects and endorsing positive outcomes.