Linguistic Features in Instant Messaging

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Abstract

Instant Messaging (IM) is becoming an increasingly popular channel of synchronous internet communication especially among teenagers (Huang, 2008; Berglund, 2009; Crystal, 2006, p.248). The manifestations of IM clients such as ICQ, MSN, Facebook chat, has given rise to a unique structure of language communication in the internet community -Computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Crystal, 2006). It is of interest to see how participants of a conversation can understand each other, considering that electronic chat discussions are so unintelligible and different from face-to-face communication (Holmer, 2008). This paper examines the distinctive textual features in CMC texts that are extracted from Windows Live Messenger (WLM). Based on an approximately 800-word corpus of instant messages, collected from an undergraduate student whose first language is Cantonese and second language is English, this study investigates three most prevalent textual features in synchronous CMC texts and justifies their existence in accordance to the Hong Kong context.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page.No

INTRODUCTION

DATA COLLECTION

RESULTS & ANALYSIS

SHORTENINGS

3.11 Phonological Shortenings

3.12 Lexical Shortenings

3.13 Syntactic Shortenings

TRANSLITERATIONS

3.21 Romanized Cantonese Sentence Particles

3.22 Romanized Cantonese Expressions

3.3 EMOTICONS

4 CONCLUSIONS

5 REFERENCES

_1. INTRODUCTION_

Prior to the 96s, language communication was a laborious and deliberate process, considering one's options to communicate long distances were limited to telephones, letters and emails. With the introduction of online bulletins and discussion boards in the mid nineties, many computer technology corporations then recognized the importance of online discussion. Hence, Microsoft, for instance created an instant messenger client named Windows Live messenger (WLM). This client enables electronic communication to take place in real time between two or more users. Each WLM user has his or her personal contact list that stores all the chat partners that he or she has authorized akin to other instant messaging software. (Lee, 2002, p.4; Danet & C. Herring, 2007) (See Figure 1.0). Followed by the rapid popularization of internet use in the 21st century, a unique form of communication, mediated by the computer and the internet is developed (Lee, 2002, p.2; Yang, 2007).

(Figure 1.0 showing a WLM contact list)

_2 DATA COLLECTION_

In the course of collecting appropriate textual data to analyze linguistic features in CMC texts, the following criteria must be satisfied:

The messages should only involve two participants - the speaker and the hearer

Each message should be written only either in Cantonese, English or both

The speaker and hearer of the messages should be Hong Kong Native Chinese

Prior permission from the hearer must be endorsed before this investigation could be conducted

Below is an excerpt of a WLM conversation extracted from WLM's conversation history which took place between two Hong Kong Cantonese undergraduate students. The messages are subsequently processed into MS Word and the lines are numbered (See Table 1.1).

LINE NO.

SPEAKER

CONTENT

A

YOU CAN HI ME ACTUALLYXD

B

great pic

A

HAHA THTS NOT ME

A

THE PIC OR THE SONG?XD

B

seems like smoking..

B

ur profile

A

YEA THT GUY IS SMOKING

B

guy or gal?

A

THTS NOT MEXD I JUST STOLE THT PIC ONLINE

A

GUY

A

HAHA

B

@@

B

seems a girl indeed

A

HAHAHA NONONO A GUY

A

DIM AH THOSE SONGS

B

i'd listen to them tmr

A

HAHAHA

A

I FORGOT WT DID I GIVE YOU ALREADY

B

so neat n tidy!!!!!!!!!!!!

B

i luv it!!!!!!!!!!!!

B

Haaha

A

HAHA

A

NOT REALLYXD

A

ITS ITUNE'S JOB

B

dunt be humble -3-

A

TMR GOT SCH MA?

B

sure, i hv no day-off

B...
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