lol: new language and spelling in instant messaging
- First Online:
- 2.3k Downloads
Written communication in instant messaging, text messaging, chat, and other forms of electronic communication appears to have generated a “new language” of abbreviations, acronyms, word combinations, and punctuation. In this naturalistic study, adolescents collected their instant messaging conversations for a 1-week period and then completed a spelling test delivered over instant messaging. We used the conversations to develop a taxonomy of new language use in instant messaging. Short-cuts, including abbreviations, acronyms, and unique spellings were most prevalent in the instant message conversation, followed by pragmatic signals, such use of emoticons, emotion words, and punctuation, and typographical and spelling errors were relatively uncommon. With rare exceptions, notably true spelling errors, spelling ability was not related to use of new language in instant messaging. The taxonomy provides an important tool for investigating new language use and the results provide partial evidence that new language does not have a harmful effect on conventional written language.
KeywordsSpelling Instant messaging
- Aiken, L., & West, S. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Bernstein, S. E. (2008). Phonology, decoding, and lexical compensation in vowel spelling errors made by children with dyslexia. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Advance online publication. Retrieved April 22, 2008 doi:10.1007/s11145-008-9116-z.
- Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 222–251.Google Scholar
- Davis, B. H., & Brewer, J. P. (1997). Electronic discourse: Linguistic individuals in virtual space. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Driscoll, D. (2002). The Ubercool morphology of internet gamers: A linguistic analysis. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences, 1. Retrieved from http://www.kon.org/urc/driscoll.html.
- Herring, S. C. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4(4). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol4/issue4/herring.html.
- Herring, S. C. (2003). Computer-mediated communication on the internet. In S. B. Barnes (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Human to human communication across the internet (pp. 109–168). Boston: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
- Huffaker, D. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2005). Gender, identity, and language use in teenage blogs. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10 (2), article 1. Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue2/huffaker.html.
- Jakobson, R. (1960). Linguistics and poetics. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Style in language (pp. 350–377). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Jansen, E. (2003). Netlingo: The internet dictionary. Ojai, CA: Netlingo, Inc.Google Scholar
- Lee, C. (2003). How does instant messaging affect interaction between the genders? Unpublished manuscript, Stanford University.Google Scholar
- Lee, J. (2002). I think, therefore IM. New York Times, p.G.1.Google Scholar
- Lenhart, A., Madden, M., & Hitlin, P. (2005). Teens and technology: Youth are leading the transition to a fully wired and mobile nation. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Tech_July2005web.pdf.
- Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Macgill, A. R., & Smith, A. (2007). Teens and social media. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Report.pdf.
- Lenhart, A., Rainie, L., & Lewis, O. (2001). Teenage life online: The rise of the instant-message generation and the internets impact on friendships and family relationships. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Report.pdf.
- Shoeman, E., & Shoeman, J. (2007). Text messaging survival guide. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing.Google Scholar
- Spatafora, J. N. (2008). IM learning 2 write? A study on how instant messaging shapes student writing. Unpublished master’s thesis, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
- Spears, G., Seydegart, K., & Zulinov, P. (2005). Young Canadians in a wired world, phase II: Student survey. Ottawa: Media Awareness Network. Retrieved from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/research/YCWW/phaseII/upload/YCWWII_Student_Survey.pdf.
- Stevenson, J., & Shortis, T. (n.d.) The language of internet relay chat. Retrieved April 22, 2008, from http://www.demo.inty.net/Units/Internet%20Relay%20Chat.htm.
- Tagliamonte, S. A., & Denis, D. (2006). LOL for real! Instant messaging in Toronto teens. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS).Google Scholar
- Treiman, R. (1993). Beginning to spell: A study of first-grade children. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Treiman, R. (1997). Spelling in normal children and dyslexics. In B. Blachman (Ed.), Foundations of reading acquisition and dyslexia: Implications for early intervention (pp. 191–218). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Werry, C. C. (1996). Linguistic and interactional features of internet relay chat. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, G. S. (1993). Wide range achievement test-3. Wilmington, DE: Jastak.Google Scholar