Friday, 10 February 2012

What are the notable linguistic features of Computer Mediated Communication?

1. Orthography
informal (“phonetic”) spelling
do wot I did
luv from SD
dunno how easy it’ll be
speed-writing (esp. with mobile phones), combination of informal spelling with letter omission
thx 4 yr txt
absence of capitalization (even with pronoun I and proper names) 
got your email. i’ll be over later on in the day. 
2. Vocabulary 
If you give it to me to look at in the summer hols, I’ll be able to have a peek at it myself sometime.
I thin the N lot managed to dagger it quite effectively.
Oh goody... Even goodier.
use of interjections
At last — phew!
This was the last bid with N, oh, ages ago. 
Not back till Saturday: grooh.
use of “in”-terms and abbreviations (BTW, ROTFL, PTB)
BTW have you heard an update on the continuing saga?
3. Grammar
“telegraphic” language
Have forwarded the N email.
Will do, but am not back in office until Tuesday.
“chaining” (multiple coordination/subordination in sequence)
4. Discourse and Text
use of interaction features (e.g. questions)
i’ll be over later on in the day, ok?
The main trip up seems to be that what we were thinking of is not in this call, am I right?
“stream of consciousness” writing
just one more thing, do i want to go to england to teach in a school??? do i? oh well, i’ll decide that when i have to.
message-comment structures in e-mail, etc.
— Have just had your payslip and returned tax card.
— Oh goody.
hypertext (in the WWW)
5. Paralinguistics and Graphics
spaced letters
in case you’re wondering why things went R E A L S L O W just now
multiple letters
alternative markers for emphasis
*now* or _now_
capitalization (“shouting”)
little or “excessive”punctuation 
do i want to go to england to teach in a school???
“smilies” (emoticons)
Sue’s hedgehog followed Tim round the building :—)
Anyone wanna buy some CPROS lottery tickets? :—) 

What do these features tell us about CMC? 

CMC demonstrates a mix of features drawn from prototypically spoken and prototypically written media (including sub-types of these — e.g. telegraphic language) 

Text-type has an important role in determining the nature of the language used in CMC. Overall, however, the trend is towards a more informal, “spoken” style of writing. This is especially obvious at the paralinguistic/graphic level, where additional means have been developed to represent effects that are possible in face-to-face interaction but not in writing. 

The constraints of real-time interaction seem to be responsible for many of the features of CMC language. These seem then to have diffused into asynchronous text types. 
Socially, there seems to be some trend towards group solidarity amongst users of CMC. Several linguistic choices appear aimed at reducing social distance and emphasizing group membership.


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