Original Research

Key identifiers and spelling conventions in MXit-lingo as found in conversations with Dr Math

Laurie Butgereit, Reinhardt A Botha, Michelle van den Heever
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 8, No 1 | a4 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v8i1.4 | © 2012 Laurie Butgereit, Reinhardt A Botha, Michelle van den Heever | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2016 | Published: 31 July 2012

About the author(s)

Laurie Butgereit, School of ICT at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth., South Africa
Reinhardt A Botha, School of ICT and the Institute for ICT Advancement at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Michelle van den Heever,, South Africa

Full Text:



Different human languages look different from other human languages. To use a term from the computer industry, each human language has its own “look and feel”. European English speakers can easily recognise a phrase such as “Comment allez-vous?” as being written in French while the phrase “¿Habla usted español?” is written in Spanish. Each language has its own letter frequencies, word frequencies and other identifiers. This paper describes key identifiers in MXit lingo as found in Dr Math conversations. MXit is a mobile instant messaging system which originated in South Africa and is expanding to other countries. Dr Math is a mobile tutoring system which uses MXit as a communication protocol. Primary and secondary school pupils can receive help with the mathematics homework using the Dr Math tutoring system. The pupils use MXit on their cell phones and the tutors use traditional Internet workstations. After exploring how MXit lingo is written, this paper will briefly explore why MXit lingo is written the way it is. By identifying and describing the orthographic conventions visible in the spelling of MXit lingo, although with some theoretical support, insight into the purposeful and functional nature of written, mobile communication will be revealed. In highlighting spelling that is influenced by Black South African English, an attempt will be made to contribute to the empirical development of a field of study that explores the construction of words used in South African mobile communication.

Keywords: MXit, Math, letters, writing, orthography

Disciplines: Linguistics, mathematics, information technology


MXit, Math, letters, writing, orthography


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