Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 719–733

lol: new language and spelling in instant messaging

  • Connie K. Varnhagen
  • G. Peggy McFall
  • Nicole Pugh
  • Lisa Routledge
  • Heather Sumida-MacDonald
  • Trudy E. Kwong
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Spelling Instant messaging 

References

  1. Aiken, L., & West, S. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. 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.
  3. Bourassa, D., & Treiman, R. (2003). Spelling in children with dyslexia: Analyses from the Treiman-Bourassa early spelling test. Scientific Studies of Reading, 7, 309–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crystal, D. (2006). Language and the internet (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 222–251.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, B. H., & Brewer, J. P. (1997). Electronic discourse: Linguistic individuals in virtual space. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  8. 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.
  9. Figueredo, L. (2006). Using the known to chart the unknown: A review of first-language influence on the development of English-as-a-second-language spelling skill. Reading and Writing, 19, 873–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Grinter, R. E., Palen, L., & Eldridge, M. (2006). Chatting with teenagers: Considering the place of chat technologies in teen life. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 13, 423–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. Jacobs, G. E. (2004). Complicating contexts: Issues of methodology in researching the language and literacies of instant messaging. Reading Research Quarterly, 39, 394–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jakobson, R. (1960). Linguistics and poetics. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Style in language (pp. 350–377). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Jansen, E. (2003). Netlingo: The internet dictionary. Ojai, CA: Netlingo, Inc.Google Scholar
  17. Kang, H.-S., & Yang, H. (2006). The visual characteristics of avatars in computer-mediated communication: Comparison of internet relay chat and instant messenger as of 2003. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64, 1173–1183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (2005). Egocentrism over email: Can we communicate as well as we think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 925–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee, C. (2003). How does instant messaging affect interaction between the genders? Unpublished manuscript, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  20. Lee, J. (2002). I think, therefore IM. New York Times, p.G.1.Google Scholar
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Lewis, C., & Fabos, B. (2005). Instant messaging, literacies, and social identities. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 470–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Merchant, G. (2001). Teenagers in cyberspace: An investigation of language use and language change in internet chatrooms. Journal of Research in Reading, 24, 293–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Shoeman, E., & Shoeman, J. (2007). Text messaging survival guide. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Sparks, R. L., Patton, J., Ganschow, L., Humbach, N., & Javorsky, J. (2008). Early first-language reading and spelling skills predict later second-language reading and spelling skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 162–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 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
  29. 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.
  30. Sternberg, B. J., Kaplan, K. A., & Borck, J. E. (2007). Enhancing adolescent literacy achievement through integration of technology in the classroom. Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 416–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 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.
  32. 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
  33. Treiman, R. (1993). Beginning to spell: A study of first-grade children. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Treiman, R. (1994). Use of consonant letter names in beginning spelling. Developmental Psychology, 30, 567–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 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
  36. Werry, C. C. (1996). Linguistic and interactional features of internet relay chat. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Wilkinson, G. S. (1993). Wide range achievement test-3. Wilmington, DE: Jastak.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Connie K. Varnhagen
    • 1
  • G. Peggy McFall
    • 1
  • Nicole Pugh
    • 2
  • Lisa Routledge
    • 1
  • Heather Sumida-MacDonald
    • 1
  • Trudy E. Kwong
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMacEwan CollegeEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations