Scraping the barrel with a shower of social misfits: Everyday creativity in text messaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


Scholars generally accept that spelling variation in texting is a creative practice. This article shows that texters can also be creative in other ways. Examples of repetition, idiom manipulation, wordplay, and punning are drawn from a corpus of almost 11,000 text messages. These include: ‘They can try! They can get lost, in fact!’ and ‘see ya not on the dot’, as well as the mixed idioms cited in the title of the article. The article explores the extent to which these creative practices reflect the creativity identified in spoken and online interaction and it finds that, despite the speech-like nature of creative practices across the corpus, some texted creativity differs in interesting ways from other contexts. The article shows how creative practices emerge from a particular configuration of technology- and user-related features to play a significant evaluative role in texting, as well as providing cohesion across texts. The study suggests that research into the implications of texting for literacy should be extended to take into account these forms of creativity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-500
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015