2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

What IM Saying: Instant Messaging as a Unique Linguistic Form
John D. Tressler*, Hannah J. Kay, Lainey R. Seyler, and Joanna M. Ristow
Dr. Mary Shapiro, Faculty Mentor

Instant Messaging (IM) has quickly become one of the most popular forms of communication among younger generations, and is even used in some professional circles to facilitate quick and inexpensive communication. Considered by many to be “the new email,” IM seems to defy categorization under the traditional dichotomy of spoken versus written language. This research examines some of the similarities that IM has with writing and with speech, and the differences that set it apart as a unique linguistic form. Having collected over 400 conversations of varying length, representing fifteen female and ten male IM users over eight months, we examined greeting and turn-taking strategies, the role of line breaks, conversation length, and error correction, and considered the development of stylistic differences. As IM becomes more widespread, it is necessary to consider how its use is evolving, and what further questions linguists can pursue.

Keywords: instant message, Internet, socio-linguistics


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-1
Location: OP 2113
Time: 8:15 am

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