Blending Scholarship: Signifyin(g) and the Heroic Monomyth within Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Honors Thesis Director

Leslie Bickford

Honors Thesis Reader 1

Gregg Hecimovich

Honors Thesis Reader 2

Gloria Jones


signifyin(g), Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison, African American culture, rhetorical device, Heroic Monomyth


With the ever-increasing number of short message service (SMS) text messages being sent around the globe, the language of texting, also known as textese or slanguage, has been vilified by people for destroying the English language. The orthographical features of textese (pictograms and logograms, initialisms, omitted letters, nonstandard spellings, and shortenings) are often considered novel but detrimental conventions to the English language. However, linguistic researcher David Crystal illustrates how these features of textese have actually been in use and accepted historically in standard speech and writing. Therefore, based upon research studies from Nenagh Kemp, M.A. Drouin, and Kevin Durkin that consider the positive correlations between textese use and literacy skills, my paper will analyze the impact that textese can actually have on aiding in the development of literary skills over time. Because these studies cover a wide range of geographic locations such as Britain, Australia, and the United States, as well as a wide range of age categories from young adolescents to college adults, the results are noteworthy. Each study concluded that the use of textese is not necessarily harming the English language; in fact, the use of textese is positively linked with improved literacy skills according to the scores on standardized reading comprehension and spelling tests. Thus, my paper argues that based on the above evidence, as well as research into the pedagogical practices that are traditionally used to improve literacy skills, people need to embrace the phenomenon of texting to aid in literacy and language development of all people; then, if needed, adults should help younger adolescents learn to code-switch out of textese in order to use Standard American English when academically expected.

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