An Analysis of Register in Email Messages

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An Analysis of Register of Email Messages

TABLE OF CONTENT

1. Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 1 2. Theory of Register Analysis …......................................................................................... 2 3. Writing vs. Speech ............................................................................................................ 2 4. Analysis ............................................................................................................................ 4 5. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 7 6. Bibliography ...................................................................................................................... 8

PS Campbell

Language in Use

SS 11

1. INTRODUCTION Undoubtedly the Internet has made a huge impact on our use of language over the last decade and will continue to do so. Our modern society has rapidly adopted the new ways of communication that evolved from email, instant messaging or social networking. As the most familiar and widely used mode of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), email is undoubtedly an influential force in contemporary communication exchange. Due to inexpensive pricing and accessibility, email is replacing both the telephone and the traditional letter as most convenient means of two-person discourse and according to a report that was recently published online by The Radicati Group (2011, online), the number of worldwide email accounts is 3.1 billion in 2011. The increasing level of electronic communicative exchange must necessarily affect the way users of email are interacting with each other which makes it particularly interesting to investigate email messages on a linguistic basis. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the register and to discuss the linguistic features of several email messages and to see if those features could be used to form a specific email register. As Internet linguistics is a rather new branch of linguistic research the literature usually does not focus only on the language of email messages, but more likely covers the use of language in the Internet as a whole. Therefore, this paper is largely based on selected chapters of a couple of key sources which are particularly relevant. The second section of this paper provides a brief introduction to the theory of register analysis. Section three concisely investigates the question wether email can be seen as writing or speech, based on the used data. In section four an analysis of register of selected content of personal email messages is provided. The paper is then completed by a conclusion in section four. The data that has been used was taken from my own email messages and to limit the situational variation, registers that include interaction with an American friend (Ian) of mine were chosen.

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PS Campbell

Language in Use

SS 11

2. THEORY OF REGISTER ANALYSIS According to the linguists Biber and Conrad (2009: 6), a register, in general terms, “is a variety associated with particular situation of use (including particular communicative purposes). The description of a register covers three major components: the situational context, the linguistic features, and the functional relationships between the first two components […].” So we can say that register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting, depending on context. The most important question now is, how can we analyse something as unique as a conversation, be it face-to-face or via email, when each conversation is as unique as its participants themselves? Biber and Conrad (2009: 7, 50) provide a detailed description of how to analyse register in three steps, but in summary we can state that we can analyse register in terms of discourse...
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