IT HAS become part of everyday life, especially for the younger generation, but texting has also been widely blamed for triggering a linguistic malaise that is undermining the nation's literacy skills.
Now a new book, published by the world-renowned Oxford University Press, has claimed that texting actually helps rather than hinders literacy.
The book's author, Professor David Crystal, insists the idea that mobile phone messaging is breeding an illiterate and incomprehensible generation is nothing more than a myth.
The academic challenges the orthodox view head-on in 'txtng the gr8 db8' and points out that abbreviating English is nothing new.
Crystal said: "The popular belief is that texting has evolved as a 21st-century phenomenon – as a highly distinctive graphic style, full of abbreviations and deviant uses of language, used by a young generation that doesn't care about standards.
"There is a widely voiced concern that the practice is fostering a decline in literacy and some even think it is harming language as a whole. There is now a widespread folk belief that, whatever texting is, it must be a bad thing."
One critic is veteran broadcaster John Humphrys, who was so outraged by the trend that he labelled texters "vandals" who were "raping and pillaging" the English language.
But Crystal, a University of Wales academic and the author of the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, said abbreviated sentences had a long and rich history.
"There is nothing novel at all about text messages such as 'cu l8r'. They are part of the European linguistic tradition, and can be found in all languages which have been written down.
"Individual texters may have devised some of the modern abbreviations, but they are only doing what generations have done before."
Crystal points out that non-standard spellings are a long-standing part of English literary tradition.
As such, the Oxford English Dictionary introduced "cos" in 1828, "wot" in 1829, "luv" in 1898, "thanx" in 1936 and "ya" in 1941.
"Many of the non-standard spellings in text messaging can be found in dialect representations such as by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Walter Twain, Walter Scott, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy or DH Lawrence," he added.
"The English essayist Joseph Addison complained about the way words were being 'miserably curtailed'. That was in 1711.
Crystal also pointed out that research by Coventry University showed that pre-teenagers who used text message abbreviations scored higher in reading and vocabulary than their non-texting peers.
He said: "Children could not be good at texting if they had not already developed quite considerable literacy awareness.
"Before you can write abbreviated forms effectively and play with them, you need to have a sense of how the sounds of your language relate to the letters."
The Headteachers' Association of Scotland has expressed concern over the increased acceptance of abbreviated English.
A spokesman for the association said: "Because of the rate in which text-speak is taking hold, I shudder to think what letters will look like in 10 years' time."