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Text Messaging and IM Linguistic Comparison of American College Data


Abstract and Figures

While instant messaging (IM) via computers is well entrenched in the United States, text messaging on mobile phones is a more recent technology in America. To investigate the emergence of American texting, this study compared text messages and IMs produced by American college students with respect to transmission length, emoticons and lexical shortenings, and sentential punctuation. We examine our findings in light of other statistical studies of texting and IM, and with respect to personal computer use in the United States that predates text messaging.
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Text Messaging and IM: Linguistic Comparison of American College Data
Rich Ling Naomi S. Baron
Telenor R&D American University
University of Michigan
Please address correspondence to:
Naomi S. Baron
Department of Language and Foreign Studies
American University
Washington, DC 20016-8045 USA
phone: 202-885-2455
fax: 301-229-4988
February 16, 2007
Text Messaging and IM
While instant messaging (IM) via computers is well-entrenched in the United States, text
messaging on mobile phones is a more recent technology in America. To investigate the
emergence of American texting, this study compared text messages and IMs produced by
American college students with respect to transmission length, emoticons and lexical shortenings,
and sentential punctuation. We examine our findings in light of other statistical studies of texting
and IM, and with respect to personal computer use in the USA that pre-dates text messaging.
Keywords: Instant messaging, IM, text messaging, texting, SMS, computer-mediated
AUTHORS’ NOTE: The authors gratefully acknowledge valuable input from Howard Giles in
preparing this Research Note. Correspondence should be addressed to Rich Ling, Telenor R&D,
Snarøyveien 31, 1331 Fornebu, Norway; e-mail: or Naomi S. Baron,
Department of Language and Foreign Studies, Asbury 326, American University, Washington,
DC, 20016-8045, USA; e-mail:
Text Messaging and IM
Among teenagers and young adults, two popular forms of one-to-one electronically-
mediated communication are instant messaging (IM), which is typically done via personal
computers, and transmission of text messages on mobile phones. Text messages are generally
limited to 160 characters, while IMs essentially have no upper limit. However, the input devices
are not comparable. While texting uses one thumb (or two) on a small phone keypad, perhaps
aided by predictive text software (Ling, 2005a), IM employs ten fingers on a full-sized computer
Most text messages are composed all of a piece and sent as single transmissions. With IM,
messages from a single interlocutor are commonly chunked into seriatim transmissions, yielding
a sequence of IMs together constituting an utterance (Baron, 2004). For example,
isn’t it nice [SEND]
to be in love [SEND]
in the spring [SEND]
With IM, once Internet access has been procured, messages do not have a per-unit price. By
contrast, texting in the USA has been charged per message transmitted. Commercial plans now
offer packages of messages or unlimited texting for a monthly fee, though texting charges remain
in addition to monthly subscription costs for voice calls. Outside the USA, both voice calls and
texts are unit-priced.
Text messaging began in Europe in 1993, with commercialization of the GSM mobile
phone network. Popularity of texting in Europe and Asia has been especially high among
teenagers and young adults: texting has been cheaper than voice calls, and many young people
lacked ready access to IM programs on personal computers. As of 2005, the USA had 76.2 PCs
Text Messaging and IM
per 100 inhabitants, while Europe averaged 30.2.1 Internet usage shows a similar divergence:
69.6% of the American population versus 38.6% of Europeans.2
In Europe and Asia, mobile phones are well-established. For example, 95% of
Norwegians own mobiles, including 100% of teenagers. Approximately 70% of Norwegians
aged 19-24 report daily use of text messaging (Ling & Haddon, in press). In the USA, as of 2005,
69% owned mobile phones. Approximately 4% of everyone in the USA and 18% of those aged
18-24 used texting daily (Traugott, Joo, Ling, & Qian, 2006).
IM was introduced in the 1980s at several American universities. However, the
technology was not popularized until development of PC versions: ICQ in 1996 and America
Online’s own program in 1997 (Baron, 2003). AOL’s free software, AIM, is the most common
platform among American teenagers and college students, though alternatives include MSN
Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. By 2004, 48% of American youth aged 12 to 17 used IM
daily (Lenhart, Madden, & Hitlin, 2005).
IM is gaining ground in Europe,3 but the balance still heavily favors texting. By contrast,
IM is ubiquitous on American college campuses. Mobile phones are also becoming de rigueur,
and most students have at least experimented with text messaging. However, as of late 2005,
mobiles were used on US campuses more than twice as much for voice functions as for texting
(Baron & Ling, in preparation).
Linguistic analyses of texting have appeared for several languages (e.g., German: Döring,
2002; Swedish: Hård af Segerstad, 2002; Norwegian: Ling, 2005b, British English: Thurlow &
Brown, 2003). Among the stylistic features noted are abbreviations, acronyms, emoticons,
misspellings, and omission of vowels, subject pronouns, and punctuation. Since texting in the
USA is comparatively new, collecting texting data in the early 2000s was problematic. By
Text Messaging and IM
contrast, IM has been amenable to research (e.g., Baron, 2004 and in Canada, Tagliamonte &
Denis, in preparation). These two statistically-based IM studies, along with Thurlow and
Brown’s texting analysis, reported that abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons were less
prevalent in young people’s computer-mediated communication than suggested by the popular
press. To move beyond media hyperbole, we need corpus-based analyses of such features as
abbreviations and punctuation. By collecting data from similar populations, we can compare the
linguistics of texting and IM.
A second lens through which to view texting and IM is prior familiarity with computer
technology. In the USA, middle-school and especially high-school students have been
encouraged for over a decade to produce written assignments on computers. College freshmen
arrive as proficient typists. Baron (2004) argued that the written sophistication of students’ IM is
consonant with prior experience on the same computer keyboards used for school compositions.
The question now is whether American texting is colored by prior experience with IM which, in
turn, reflects proficiency with word-processing.
Our three research questions were
Research Question 1: What are the linguistic characteristics of text messaging in the USA?
Research Question 2: How do these characteristics compare with IM in the USA?
Research Question 3: Is extensive prior experience with word processing and IM
reflected in American texting?
Findings reported here involve three linguistic areas.4 The first is length: How many
words and characters were there per transmission, how many one-word transmissions, and how
many sentences per transmission? The second is emoticons and lexical shortenings: How often
were emoticons, acronyms, abbreviations, and contractions used? With contractions, how many
Text Messaging and IM
contained apostrophes? The third is sentential punctuation: How much punctuation appeared at
the ends of sentences, and was it haphazard or principled?
A convenience sample of text messaging data was collected in Fall 2005 using paper
diaries distributed to undergraduates at a large public mid-western university. Students were
asked to record exactly all text messages they sent over a 24-hour period. Twenty-five completed
diaries were returned (22 females, 3 males). Only the female data were analyzed. The resulting
corpus contained 191 text transmissions, with 1473 words. IM data were drawn from a corpus
collected in Spring 2003 from undergraduates at a mid-sized private university on the east coast.
From the full corpus, a random female sample of 191 IM transmissions was extracted, containing
1146 words.
Text messages averaged 7.7 words, while IM transmissions averaged 6.0 (F1,385 = 10.97,
p = 0.001). Recall that for IM transmissions, sequencing of consecutive transmissions is common.
Therefore, while individual text messages were longer than individual IMs, average length of a
complete conversational turn (combining seriatim transmissions) was longer in IM.
The mean number of characters per transmission in the texting data was also significantly
larger than in IM. Text messages averaged almost 35 characters,5 while the IM mean was just
under 29 characters (F1,404 = 5.80, p = 0.02). Another factor contributing to message length is
one-word transmissions. There were significantly fewer one-word text messages (7 out of 191, or
3.7%) than one-word IMs (36 out of 191, or 18.8%) (Chi2 (1) = 21.83, p < 0.001).
Almost 60% of texting transmissions contained multiple sentences, compared with 34%
of the IM transmissions (Chi2 (1) = 22.29, p < 0.001).6 The mean number of sentences per text-
message was 1.76, while the mean for IM was 1.27 (F1,380 = 38.62, p < 0.001). Since IMs are
commonly sent as consecutive transmissions without added cost, this finding is not surprising.
Text Messaging and IM
Of the 1473 words in the texting corpus, only 2 were emoticons (both smileys). In the IM
corpus, out of 1146 words, there were 5 emoticons: 4 smileys and 1 frowny face. In the texting
corpus, only 8 acronyms appeared: 5 instances of lol (“laughing out loud”) and 1 each of ttyl
(“talk to you later”), omg (“oh my god”), and wtf (“what the [expletive]”). The IM corpus had 4
acronyms: 3 cases of lol and 1 ttyl.
There were marked differences between samples in use of abbreviations. The IM corpus
had no clear-cut abbreviations specific to online communication. One case of b/c (“because”)
occurred, but this abbreviation is commonly found in informal writing, and predates computer-
mediated communication. Three miscellaneous lexical shortenings appeared: ya (“you”), prob.
(“probably”), and em (“them”). However, these forms frequently appear in the informal speech
of American college students, and are not specific to IM.
By comparison, the texting corpus had 47 unambiguous abbreviations: 26 instances of U
(“you”), 9 cases of R (“are”), 4 examples of k (“OK”), 6 occurrences of 2 (“to” – both as a word
and as part of “today”), and 2 instances of 4 (“for” –as a word and as part of “before”). In
addition, the texting data contained words with vowel deletions: 2 instances of b (“be”), and 1
case each of latr (“later) and ovr (“over”). We cannot determine whether these examples
represent intentional shortenings or input errors. Nearly a dozen texting examples involved
miscellaneous lexical shortenings, e.g., Sun (“Sunday”) and tomm (“tomorrow”), only some of
which reflect casual speech, e.g., ya (“you”).
Contractions (e.g., can’t instead of cannot) typically appear in informal speech and
writing, and are shorter to type than full forms, especially when omitting the apostrophe. In
computer-based IM, apostrophes require only a single keystroke, while needing four key taps on
mobile phones. We calculated percent of full and contracted forms against total potential
Text Messaging and IM
contractions. For apostrophes, we scored only use in contractions, not possessives (e.g.,
Mildred’s). In texting, 84.7% of all potential contractions were contracted. In IM, only 68.1%
were contracted (Chi2 (1) 9.246, p = 0.002). Far fewer apostrophes appeared in texting
contractions than in IM: 31.9% versus 93.9% (Chi2 (1) 47.784, p < 0.001).7
We examined punctuation at the ends of transmissions and the ends of sentences (since
many transmissions contained multiple sentences). We also tallied use of question marks at the
ends of semantically-interrogative sentences in comparison with use of periods, exclamation
marks, or equivalent punctuation (ellipses, dashes, commas, and emoticons) at the ends of
declaratives, imperatives, or exclamations.
Texting and IM followed similar patterns, with the proportion of texting punctuation
always lower than in IM. Total sentence-final punctuation was 39% for texting and 45% for IM.
Transmission-final punctuation appeared in only 29% of text messages and 35% of IMs.
However, for transmissions containing multiple sentences, the sentences not appearing at the
ends of transmissions had more sentence-final punctuation: 54% of text messages and 78% of
IMs, e.g.,
sentence 1: I mean I just want to see you… [punctuation used]
sentence 2: I’m just stressed and overwhelmed [no punctuation]
Logically, transmission-medial punctuation is more critical than transmission-final marks in
helping recipients interpret messages. In most cases, the act of sending a message coincides with
sentence-final punctuation.8
To compare question marks and periods (or equivalent marks), we divided each corpus
into two categories: semantic questions and “other”.9 More question marks were used to end
semantic questions than periods (or equivalents) to end other sentence types. In texting, 73% of
Text Messaging and IM
semantic questions were ended with a question mark, while only 30% of “other” bore sentence-
final punctuation (Chi2 (1) = 38.56, p < 0.001). In IM, all (100%) of questions ended in question
marks, while only 41% of the remaining sentences were punctuated (Chi2 (1) = 29.50, p < 0.001).
More frequent use of “required” question marks may pragmatically highlight the request for a
response from the recipient.
Research Questions 1 and 2 concerned linguistic characteristics of text messaging in the
USA and how they compared with American IM. Tables 1 and 2 summarize the points of
similarity and difference presented in this study.
The paucity of emoticons and acronyms in both our texting and IM corpora is consonant
with studies in Canada and the UK. While there are no previous reports on sentential punctuation
in texting or IM, our data indicate that usage patterns are hardly scattershot. Students often
omitted transmission-final marks (especially periods), but their overall punctuation choices
tended to be communicatively pragmatic. The fact punctuation was consistently more prevalent
in IM than in texting probably reflects greater ease of input in IM.
American college-student texting and IM differed in several significant ways. Text
messages were consistently longer and contained more sentences, probably resulting from both
differential costing structures and the tendency of IM sequences (but not texts) to be sent
seriatim. Text messages contained significantly more abbreviations than IMs, but even the
number in texting was small. Reanalyzing our data to more closely approximate Thurlow and
Brown’s scoring rubric, the American texting corpus contained less than 5% abbreviated words,
compared with Thurlow and Brown’s nearly 19% for a sample of mostly British female college
students in Wales.
Text Messaging and IM
Our texting and IM data also diverged with respect to contractions and apostrophes: more
contractions appeared in texting, but texting used only one-third the apostrophes found in IM.
Greater use of contractions in texting could reflect the higher tendency to use abbreviated forms
(compared with IM), which in turn is consonant with an awkward input device. Paucity of
apostrophes in texting undoubtedly results from input complexity.
Research Question 3 asked whether prior experience with word processing and IM is
reflected in American texting. The answer is unclear, especially in light of differences between
input devices. Many Americans have little practice texting on phone keypads. Thurlow and
Brown’s participants sent messages twice as long as American texts (14 words vs. 7.7; 65
characters vs. 35), which may reflect their students’ more extensive texting experience.
Alternatively, longer British texts may result from limited access to IM (where seriatim
transmissions commonly exceed 14 words) or cultural differences.10
Explanations for uncontracted versus contracted forms in American texting are not self-
evident. The fact uncontracted forms were used at all (13 out of 85 potential contractions) might
reflect keyboard writing habits, as in IM, or intentional adoption of more formal written style for
particular text messages. Alternatively, uncontracted forms might be used to avoid the
complexity of creating apostrophes. The resulting formal expression would, essentially, be a
typing shortcut. Apostrophe use is also not simply explained. Insertion of 23 apostrophes (out of
72 contractions) might reflect computer keyboard experience. However, Thurlow and Brown
also reported use of apostrophes in their data,11 so the issue may be general knowledge of
punctuation rules, regardless of input medium.
In the future, focus groups with college students would enhance our understanding of
how students craft text messages (e.g., intentionally using punctuation to make a good
Text Messaging and IM
impression, consciously using or avoiding abbreviations). Within the USA, longitudinal studies
of both texting and IM would indicate how texting evolves with practice, and how its
relationship to IM shifts. Outside the USA, it would be instructive to track how texting is
affected by increased use of IM and word-processing outside North America.
1. International Telecommunications Union. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from
2. Internet World Stats. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from
3. Le Monde (January 9, 2005) reported an IM craze in France. About one-third of young
people aged 12 to 25 were said to be using it, largely via MSN Messenger.
4. Other linguistic features we explored, such as ellipses, are omitted here for brevity.
5. Approximately one-third of the participants reported using predictive texting software.
6. Calculating sentential units per transmission entails deciding which elements to count
as full sentences (e.g., ok, haha, whatever, seriously) and which to count as components of a
preceding or following sentence (e.g., hey Jane, besides, hon. [=honey]). Capitalization, commas,
and periods are not always reliable guides. Our criterion was whether the element commonly
appeared as a stand-alone word (or phrase) in the speech of young adults.
7. Squires (2005) reported a similar finding in her study of college-student IM. In popular
IM programs, there is no spell-check function that automatically inserts apostrophes.
8. However, in IM, not all transmissions conclude with the end of a sentence see Baron,
in press.
Text Messaging and IM
9. In texting, 18.6% of all sentential units were questions, compared with 9.9% of IMs
(Chi2 (1) = 8.44, p = 0.004). Nearly 90% of texting questions involved coordination of activity,
compared with 10% of IM questions.
10. Norwegian texts averaged 6.9 words and 29-46 characters, depending upon whether
they used predictive texting (Ling, 2005a).
11. Thurlow and Brown do not distinguish between apostrophes used in contractions
versus possessives.
Baron, N.S. (2003). Language of the Internet. In A. Farghali (Ed.), The Stanford handbook for
language engineers (pp. 59-127). Stanford, California: CSLI.
Baron, N.S. (2004). See you online: Gender issues in college student use of instant messaging.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 23, 397-423.
Baron, N.S. (in press). Discourse structures in instant messaging: The case of utterance breaks.
To appear in S. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated conversation. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton
Baron, N.S., & Ling, R. (in preparation). Emerging patterns of American mobile phone use:
Electronically-mediated communication in transition.
Döring, N. (2002). “Kurzm. wird gesendet” – Abkürzungen und Akronyme in der SMS-
Kommunikation. Muttersprache. Vierteljahresschrift für deustsche Sprache, 2.
Hård af Segerstad, Y. (2002). Use and adaptation of written language to the conditions of
computer-mediated communication. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Linguistics,
Text Messaging and IM
Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden. Retrieved February 16, 2007, from
Lenhart, A., Madden, M., & Hitlin, P. (2005). Teens and technology. Pew Internet & American
Life Project, July 27. Retrieved February 16, 2007, from
Ling, R. (2005a, October). The length of text messages and the use of predictive texting: Who
uses it and how much do they have to say? Paper presented at the Association of Internet
Researchers, Chicago, IL.
Ling, R. (2005b). The socio-linguistics of SMS: An analysis of SMS use by a random sample of
Norwegians. In R. Ling & P. Pedersen (Eds.), Mobile communications: Re-negotiation of the
social sphere (pp. 335-349). London: Springer.
Ling, R., & Haddon, L. (in press). Mobile emancipation: Children, youth, and the mobile
telephone. To appear in K. Dortner & S. Livingstone (Eds.), International handbook of
children, media, and culture. London: Sage.
Squires, L. (2005, October). Whats the use of apostrophes? Gender differences and linguistic
variation in instant messaging. Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers,
Chicago, IL.
Tagliamonte, S., & Denis, D. (in preparation). LOL for real! Instant messaging, teen language
and linguistic change.
Thurlow, C., & Brown, A. (2003). Generation Txt? The sociolinguistics of young people’s text-
messaging. Discourse Analysis Online. Retrieved February 16, 2007, from
Text Messaging and IM
Traugott, M., Joos, S.-H., Ling, R., & Qian, Y. (2006). On the move: The role of cellular
communication in American life. Pohs Report on Mobile Communication. Ann Arbor, MI:
University of Michigan.
Rich Ling (Ph.D., University of Colorado) is a senior researcher at Telenor R&D and has an
adjunct position at the University of Michigan. His interests include the social consequences of
mobile telephony. He is author of The mobile connection, and along with Per Pedersen has co-
edited Mobile communications: Re-negotiation of the social sphere. Ling’s forthcoming book is
Mediated ritual communication.
Naomi S. Baron (Ph.D., Stanford University) is a professor of linguistics at American University
in Washington, DC. Her research interests include computer-mediated communication, the
influence of technology on spoken and written language, and the history and structure of English.
Author of Alphabet to email: How written English evolved and where it’s heading, her
forthcoming book is Always on: Language in an online and mobile world.
Text Messaging and IM
Table 1
Similarities between American Text Messaging and IM
Feature Texting IM
Emoticons and lexical shortenings
emoticons .001% of words .004% of words
acronyms .005% of words .003% of words
Sentence punctuation
overall sentence punctuation 39% of sentences 45% of sentences
transmission-final punctuation 29% of sentences 35% of sentences
transmission-internal punctuation 54% of sentences 78% of sentences
use of required question mark 73% of questions 100% of questions
use of required period 30% of other sentences 41% of other sentences
Text Messaging and IM
Table 2
Differences between American Text Messaging and IM
Feature Texting IM
Length transmissions (in words) 7.7 words 6.0 words
transmissions (in characters) 35 characters 29 characters
one-word transmissions 3.7% of messages 18.8% of messages
multi-sentence transmissions 60% of messages 34% of messages
sentences per transmission 1.76 per transmission 1.27 per transmission
Emoticons and lexical shortenings
abbreviations 3.2% of words 0% of words
contractions 84.7% of potential 68.1% of potential
apostrophes 31.9% of contractions 93.9% of contractions
... Popular articles on the full-stop's potential negativity have run in The New York Times (Bilefsky, 2016;Yagoda, 2012) and The New Republic (Crair, 2013). Scholars who have investigated full-stop use in text messages have found that full-stops are often omitted at the end of text messages because they are unnecessary (Baron, 2008;Baron & Ling, 2011;Ling & Baron, 2007) and that when they are included, they can convey negativity and a lack of sincerity (Gunraj et al., 2016;Houghton et al., 2018;Reynolds et al., 2017). In a medium famous for exuberant punctuation devices such as exclamation points and emoji, it is not hard to see how pragmatically unnecessary full-stops at the end of transmissions might come to be seen as unenthused, sarcastic, or even caustic. ...
... The periods in the elicited text messages were analyzed according to two methods: First, a basic content analysis was conducted (Herring, 2004a(Herring, , 2004bKrippendorff, 1980) to get an overall understanding of relative uses of full-stops in each emotional context. Full-stops were distinguished as transmission medial or transmission final for this content analysis (Ling & Baron, 2007). Second, the full-stops were analyzed semiotically that is, the punctuation marks were examined according to the speech acts they accompanied in order to determine what, if any, affect may be associated with them. ...
... Because these DCTs would not call for sarcastic or negatively valence responses, we can conclude that the full-stop is not a device that is solely negative. Second, full-stops were used sparingly; and especially sparingly at the end of messages, further validating the conclusions of Baron (2008), Baron and Ling (2011), and Ling and Baron (2007). Third, more transmission medial and transmission final full-stops were used in response to the second DCT than the other DCTs. ...
... Students during online classes and chats were found to use the following varieties of words in English most frequently at the: In addition, the student corpus during online classes and chats found that the following varieties in language were most commonly used: word replacement, word replacement with digits, abbreviation, and nontraditional spelling of words. This conclusion is aligned with previous studies (CRYSTAL, 2008;LYDDY, 2011;LING, 2005;LING;BARON, 2007;LYDDY et al., 2014;TAGLIAMONTE;DENIS, 2008;THURLOW;BROWN, 2003); Lyddy et al. (2014), in their research, found that 25% of the corpus used nontraditional spelling. In a study by Thurlow and Brown (2003), the percentage of the abbreviated form found in the corpus sample is 19% of the total content. ...
... Ling (2005) demonstrated that only 6% of the common words in the Norwegian group texts were abbreviated. Meanwhile, Ling and Baron (2007) found that less than 5% of the corpus were abbreviated words, and the rest were standard forms. Farina and Lyddy (2011) found that the most common signs of electronic discourse were in nontraditional spelling, word combinations, and less common e-ISSN: 2447-3529 DOI: ...
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... Hård af Segerstad (2002) found that Facebook users alter their spelling from the standard by spelling phonetically and omitting vowels. In the US, unambiguous abbreviations (e.g., u for "you"; r for "are"), and vowel deletions are common (Ling and Baron, 2007). Nigerian ICT English users employ spelling manipulations, abbreviations and phonetic spellings (Chiluwa, 2008). ...
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... (1) Echanges quasi-synchrones. Au niveau linguistique, les messages sont rapidement rédigés dans un style informel et l'attention accordée à l'orthographe, à la ponctuation et à la grammaire est moindre (Baron et Ling, 2007). Au niveau relationnel et social, la quasi-synchronicité accroît la spontanéité des réponses et des thématiques (Cougnon, 2015). ...
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Résumé : Cette recherche analyse l’utilisation et la construction de l’implicite non conventionnel dans les forums de discussion de Doctissimo. Au niveau théorique, nous avons créé une catégorisation des formes de l’implicite non conventionnel sur base des figures étudiées dans la rhétorique traditionnelle et la rhétorique des années 80. Cette catégorisation a mis en évidence l’existence de 7 formes d’implicite non conventionnel : la métaphore, la métonymie, l’hyperbole, la litote, l’ironie, l’allusion et le trope illocutoire. Ces formes ne sont pas analysées isolément, mais comme les composantes combinables d’un phénomène global. Cette approche permet la création de faisceaux d’indices facilitant leur reconnaissance. Au niveau de l’analyse, l’utilisation de l’implicite non conventionnel est d’abord étudiée de manière globale, et son lien avec l’intensité émotionnelle de la communication est mis en évidence. Ensuite, les différentes formes sont annotées dans le corpus, et analysées d’un point de vue formel (construction, combinaison et signalisation) et pragmatique (fonctions illocutoires et intentions perlocutoires). Abstract: This research analyses the way non-conventional implicitness is used and built in Doctissimo’s Forums. In terms of theory, we achieved a categorization of the various forms of non-conventional implicitness based on the figures usually considered in both traditional and 80’s rhetorical. This categorization highlights 7 forms of non-conventional implicitness: the metaphor, the metonymy, the hyperbole, the understatement, the irony, the allusion, and finally the illocutionary trope. These forms are not considered separately, but as the various combinable components of a global phenomenon. This perspective allows the establishment of a range of indications meant to ease their identification. In terms of analysis, this research examines the way non-conventional implicitness is used in a global way, and its connection with the emotional intensity has been highlighted. In the second part, the various forms of non-conventional implicitness are annotated in the corpus and analyzed in formal (constructions, combinations, and signs) pragmatical perspectives (illocutionary functions and perlocutionary intentions).
WhatsApp messages can be such a rich source for creative and spontaneous language geared toward more individual expression. WhatsApping provides us with a unique view into language and is an interesting prototype for thinking about language use, the various functions of this variety and how it is used to render different kinds of meanings. This study aims to explore the linguistic features of text messaging’s communicative intent, content and context. Selected samples of messages were drawn from a high school student population in Canada who provided a corpus of 100 different texts already sent and/or received for personal, educational and professional purposes. The collected data were analyzed using Biber and Conrad’s qualitative approach to register, genre, and style analysis. The result is that people use clipped sentences in a free flow of casual speech and slang. While certain abbreviations have come into such common use, to the point of becoming standard, a wide array of individualistic variance in terms of style and language usage has emerged. It is concluded that avid texters, while appearing to greatly deviate from more traditional, standard written English, are a rich source for studying creative and spontaneous language adaptation of register, genre and text according to context and text users.
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Although short message services (SMS) are constantly used to transmit information, little is known about the use of SMS by public institutions to direct people. This paper presents a field experiment in France about the effectiveness of SMS in directing disadvantaged people toward public services. Two types of treatment SMS were provided: one type had its content written in a formal style; the second type SMS style was much informal. All the SMS were individualized and included specific information about the agencies. Results indicate that the SMS had no significant effect on enrollment. There is also no apparent heterogeneous effect according to individual, agency, or location characteristics. In line with other academic evidence, these findings suggest that SMS have very limited effectiveness in directing this population toward public services.
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Penelitian ini membahas mengenai faktor-faktor yang mempengaruhi interpretation gap antara Generasi X dan Millennials Indonesia tentang tanda baca titik pada instant message. Sejak gaya komunikasi chatting muncul akibat populernya aplikasi instant message, tanda titik kehilangan fungsinya sebagai pemberi jeda dan pengakhir kalimat. Penelitian-penelitian terdahulu menyebutkan bahwa tanda titik merupakan sebuah senjata untuk menunjukkan ironi, nada sinis, sikap agresif, dan ketidaktulusan. Tanda titik tidak hanya mengakhiri sebuah pesan, namun ia adalah pesan itu sendiri. Millennials menggunakan tanda titik untuk mengekspresikan kemarahan, sementara Generasi X tidak melihat adanya makna pada tanda baca tersebut. Kesenjangan pemahaman ini disebut sebagai interpretation gap yang dipengaruhi oleh aspek generasional. Penelitian ini menggunakan pendekatan kualitatif dengan tipe eksploratif. Teknik pengumpulan data dari penelitian ini adalah wawancara mendalam dengan Generasi X dan Millennials Indonesia. Hasil penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa gaya penulisan dalam instant messaging akan mengimitasi gaya bicara pada percakapan tatap wajah. Generasi X cenderung menyelesaikan konflik secara to-the-point dan tegas, sementara Millennials cenderung bersikap pasif-agresif dan menghindari konfrontasi. Fakta ini merupakan akar dari pilihan simbol yang mereka gunakan untuk mengekspresikan kemarahan melalui media IM.
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The so called 'net generation' is popularly assumed to be naturally media literate and to be necessarily reinventing conventional linguistic and communicative practices. With this in mind, this essay centres around discursive analyses of qualitative data arising from an investigation of 159 older teenagers' use of mobile telephone text-messaging-or SMS (i.e. short-messaging services). In particular, against a backdrop of media commentaries, we examine the linguistic forms and communicative functions in a corpus of 544 participants' actual text-messages. While young people are surely using their mobile phones as a novel, creative means of enhancing and supporting intimate relationships and existing social networks, popular discourses about the linguistic exclusivity and impenetrability of this particular technologically-mediated discourse appear greatly exaggerated. Serving the sociolinguistic 'maxims' of (a) brevity and speed, (b) paralinguistic restitution and (c) phonological approximation, young people's messages are both linguistically unremarkable and communicatively adept.
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The purpose of the present study is to investigate how written language is used and adapted to suit the conditions of four modes of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Texts from email, web chat, instant messaging and mobile text messaging (SMS) have been analyzed. The general human ability to adapt is deemed to underlie linguistic adaptation. A linguistic adaptivity theory is proposed here. It is proposed that three interdependent variables influence language use: synchronicity, means of expression and situation. Two modes of CMC are synchronous (web chat and instant messaging), and two are asynchronous (email and SMS). These are all tertiary means of expression, written and transmitted by electronic means. Production and perception conditions, such as text input technique, limited message size, as well as situational parameters such as relationship between communicators, goal of interaction are found to influence message composition. The dissertation challenges popular assumptions that language is deteriorating because of increased use in CMC. It is argued that language use in different modes of CMC are variants, or repertoires, like any other variants. Contrary to popular assumptions, results show that language use is adapted creatively and is well suited the particular modes of CMC. A number of linguistic features are shown to be characteristic of the modes of CMC investigated in the present study. Strategies such as syntactical and lexical reductions are employed to reduce time, effort and space. These techniques often appear to serve multifunctional purposes, by expressing interpersonal intimacy by the choice of words and phrases, while reducing keystrokes. This clearly indicates linguistic awareness. Texts in email, web chat, instant messaging and SMS are found to contain unconventional and not yet established abbreviations based on Swedish as well as words from other languages, unconventional or spoken-like spelling, unconventional use of punctuation and use of non-alphabetical graphical means (emoticons, asterisks). Thus, written language is found to have been developed and enhanced to suit the conditions of computer-mediated communication.
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This article presents an analysis of Instant Messaging (IM), a one-to-one synchronous medium of computer-mediated communication. Innumerable articles in the popular press suggest that increasing use of IM by teens is leading to a break- down in the English language. The analyses presented here are based on a unique corpus involving 72 teenagers and over a million words of natural, unmonitored IM. In addition, a corpus of speech from the same teenagers is examined for comparison. Targeting well-known IM features and four areas of grammar, we show that IM is firmly rooted in the model of the extant language. It reflects the same structured heteroge- neity (variation) and the same dynamic, ongoing processes of linguistic change that are currently under way in contemporary varieties of English. At the same time, IM is a unique new hybrid register, exhibiting a fusion of the full range of variants from the speech community—formal, informal, and highly vernacular. Teenagers in the early twenty-first century are using home com- puters for communication at unprecedented rates in ever-expanding virtual communities. A particularly favorite medium, at least when we conducted this research, was Instant Messaging (IM). IM is "a one-to-one synchronous form of computer-mediated communication" (Baron 2004, 13). It is "direct, immediate, casual online contact" (Schiano et al. 2002). In essence, IM is real-time "interactive written discourse" (Ferrara, Brunner, and Whittemore
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Instant Messaging (IM) is becoming a mainstay for online one-to-one communication. Although IM is popularly described as a written version of informal speech, little empirical investigation of the linguistic nature of IM exists. Moreover, although gender issues are being addressed for one-to-many forms of computer-mediated communication, we have no comparable studies of IM. This article offers a linguistic profile of American college student IM conversations. In addition to analyzing conversational scaffolding and lexical issues, the article identifies gender divergences in IM usage. Some differences reflect commonly reported functional gender distinctions in face-to-face spoken conversation; other differences indicate gender-based attitudes toward the importance of language standards in speech and writing.
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Mobile telephony in the United States is gaining ground against high adoption rates in other parts of the world as a medium for both talking and sending text messages. While there is research on the use of written forms of computer-mediated communication in the US using full keyboards (e.g., chat, email, instant messaging), we know relatively little about mobile telephony as an American form of electronically-mediated communication. To address this lacuna, we administered questionnaires using convenience sampling to American college students on two campuses regarding their use of mobile phones for both talking and texting. The results suggest that the mobile phone platform is still a medium in transition but that some usage patterns may be gender-driven or economically-based, and that others may be distinctive to American culture. Washington, DC. Her research interests include electronically-mediated communication, the influence of technology on spoken and written language, and the history and structure of English. Author of Alphabet to email: How written English evolved and where it's heading, her forthcoming book is Always on: Language in an online and mobile world. Rich Ling (Ph.D., University of Colorado) is a senior researcher at Telenor and holds an adjunct position at the University of Michigan. His interests include the social consequences of mobile telephony. He has authored the book The mobile connection, and along with Per Pedersen has co-edited Mobile communications: Re-negotiation of the social sphere. His forthcoming book is entitled Mobile communication and the rise of bounded solidarity.
Introduction With the expanding amount of information and applications available through the internet in the past decade, computer mediated communication (CMC) in general and instant messaging (IM) in particular have exploded in popularity as forms of interpersonal interaction in wired societies. Though popular for many years among younger cohorts such as teenagers, IM is also prevalent among adults, even in workplace environments (Lenhart, Lewis, & Rainie, 2001; Lenhart, Madden, & Hitlin, 2005; Shiu & Lenhart, 2004; Harmon, 2003; Quan-Haase, Cothrel, & Wellman, 2005). Interaction in IM consists of interlocutors typing and reading messages via computer screens. It is potentially synchronous and generally occurs between two users in a one-to-one format, which distinguishes it from other forms of one-to-many CMC such as message boards, listservs, or chat rooms (Baron, in press). As CMC becomes more embedded in daily life as a typical mode of communication, an understanding of its unique properties becomes salient. What distinguishes it from other forms of communication and how it is used and perceived as a social instrument have engaged our research efforts, and at the heart of these questions is how users use and perceive language in CMC. We have only begun to address the nature of linguistic behavior in CMC, though its use is necessarily discursive. This study contributes to the burgeoning field of empirically-based literature on linguistic issues in CMC, and IM in particular, by applying the sociolinguistic concept of variation to IM as it relates to standard usage and gender. While there has been much sociolinguistic work on variation and gender, there has been little work on variation in written modalities, and even less on variation and CMC. We lack quantitative sociolinguistic investigation of Squires 2 linguistic variables and their social correlates from a variationist perspective. After providing a brief background on sociolinguistic variation, standards, gender, writing, speech, and CMC, I present findings of an empirical study of the use of apostrophes in IM conversations. I then argue for the usefulness of the concept of "standard" in analyzing CMC linguistic behavior.
Both users of CMC and the popular press commonly assume that online platforms such as email and instant messaging (IM) mirror informal spoken language. The present study investigates the validity of this assumption by examining discourse structures in IM conversations between American college students. Linguistic features of spoken and written language were first compared both paradigmatically and empirically, drawing particularly on research on intonation units by Chafe (1980, 1994). A subsequent fine-grained analysis of the grammatical points at which subjects chunked their IM turns into multiple transmissions revealed that while IM conversations between male dyads tended to resemble spoken discourse according to this dimension, IM conversations between females bore more similarities to traditional written language.