Monday, November 14, 2005
They found that men's texts are "shorter and use more sarcasm and swearing than those sent by women," according to the BBC News article. Messages are also longer when men are talking to women, and most interestingly, men will text their lady friends when out with their dude friends in order to avoid appearing less dude-like by actually talking on the phone to their lady friends:
"It has become common to text when you want to keep communication private, especially if you are in a group. An obvious example is that a man is more likely to text than phone his partner when he is out with friends or peers. This prevents him by losing face by switching from 'friend' mode to 'partner' mode in front of his peers," says Dr Yates.
The Yorkshire Post article is a little more ridiculous:
For years women have been battling to keep up sides with men and prove themselves to be equal in all ways. But researchers in Sheffield have proved that in the modern world there is one key difference – and that is in the way that we text.
Right. Anyway, that article's explication of the length and content findings is:
Messages between men are shorter than those between women, and text messages from men get longer when they are texting women. There are also significant differences in the content of messages men and women exchanged, men being much more likely to use sarcasm, sexual humour and swearing. Women are more likely to show support and affection. They also rarely swear, use little sarcasm, often put themselves down -– something men never do in their texts.
Because these are pop media articles, I don't know where the academic source is - Yates' homepage turns up nothing.
As Netwoman points out, this is certainly not surprising, but I want to see more about the differences in men talking to men v. men talking to women v. women talking to women v. women talking to men. I'd also like to know how more linguistic issues figure in here, and how they were used in determining the meaning of the content - do emoticons signal "support" and/or "affection" and/or "sarcasm"? Does an all-caps SWEAR WORD count as more of a swear word than a no-caps one?
1) i'm curious about the age range of these participants - they sound young, but i do want to know if middle-aged men are texting their wives during poker games with the guys. i also have doubts about this being nothing more than a face-saving mechanism.
2) i also reeeeally want to know the specifics of those linguistic issues you mentioned, especially how showing sarcasm and support and affection were all achieved (and how they were quantifiably measured).
i love that the bbc article refers to styleshifts as switching between identities.
It's too bad the research is not available online. Perhaps this is next on the list to research - as if there isn't enough to do ;)
How to Text Girl