The growing use of Greeklish by schoolchildren is adversely affecting their spelling skills and may ultimately pose a threat to the Greek language, according to a recent study.

The study was carried out by the Department of Early Childhood Education of the University of Western Macedonia during the 2008-09 school year, with the participation of children and teachers in all grades of secondary education at schools in Kozani, northern Greece.

Greeklish, or Grenglish, is the Greek language written with the Latin alphabet.

A form of transliteration, it is commonly used by Greeks in e-mail communications, instant messaging and text messages sent by cell phone.

But according to the study, the widespread use of Greeklish, which begins as early as elementary school, has led to an increase in spelling and other errors in school essays.

Apart from spelling, the most common types of mistakes were failing to insert accent or punctuation marks, the use of English punctuation marks and combining Greek and Latin letters in the same word.

The frequency with which teachers reported finding words written in Greeklish in school essays was as high as 64.3 percent.

Teachers said they were also finding unexpected errors, such as a change in the tense or person in the case of verbs, the use of the wrong declension for nouns and the replacement of one word by another with a totally different meaning.

According to the study, 77.4 percent of schoolchildren use Greeklish, with numbers rising sharply between junior high and senior high.

As for the reasons for using this particular type of script, the schoolchildren cited habit (83.9 percent), saving time (75.8 percent), usefulness or convenience (71.4 percent), to avoid making spelling mistakes (38.7 percent) and because it is fashionable (33.9 percent).

In the same study, 58.5 percent of schoolchildren believe that the use of Greeklish poses a threat to the Greek language, a view shared by 64.3 percent of teachers.