Monday, October 02, 2006

for the linguists in the house

over the next year i'll be conducting a linguistic analysis of a chunk of chatroom or instant message discourse. as per my department's wishes, this analysis will focus much more intensely on the phonetic, phonological, morphosyntactic, and pragmatic aspects than anything particularly sociocultural. we're kind of old school like that.

is anyone familiar with some publications that don't just descriptively list features of online communication, but take a more traditional linguistic approach to the categorization of such features? i know that susanna cumming does similar work, but as far as i know it hasn't been published. i'd like to get a feel for what's been done with this area before setting out on my own.

i should probably mention that, for the record, this is not intended as a solicitation for outside help on this research project.

can you give us the assignment or the context of the paper?

i don't really know of anything if i'm understanding what you're saying. phonetics and phonology are basically out. optimality theory might be kinda cool to apply. play around with variation with it. pragmatics wouldn't be too bad either. i'm not sure if syntax applies. herrings work with DTA breaks discourse down into "semantic distance" trees. it looks like syntax and has semantics in the title, so you might be able to use it :) it's pretty cool. the tool is also available for download ( i think). DTA might "formal" enough. i'm thinking about applying it to my corpus and seeing if the patterns she finds replicate in the video game environment.

if you haven't read the latest j of socio, you have to read androutsopoulos' (that's a killer to spell) intro to the volume. in my mind, it's the most recent 'state of the union' for sociocmc and it has a sweet bib (about 120 sources in a 10 page paper)

she basically surveys the field back to the mid 90s (with mention of the foundations earlier on) and then discusses its relationship with current topics. this makes it a great resource in which to situate our own work. she does a good job talking about the relationship between canonical socioling and its application/applicability to online communities/contexts.

anyway, here's an informal TOC from the article.

1. Webslang and netspeak: challenging new language myths\

2. community and identity in cmc ctudies

3. sociolinguistic issues in cmc research

3a. online ethnography
3b. language variation
3c. social interaction
3d. language and social identity in cmc
3e. multilingualism on the internet

for me, this read like one of the "handbook" series (handbook of ling anth, handbook of language var and change, etc.)

so read it if you haven't. it's good. i started annotating it for my informal annotated bib, but i just wrote "see article"
it's a doctoral requirement where i'm supposed to analyze a hunk of data using formal linguistic theories and methods. it's therefore incredibly broad, but i think i'm going to focus my analysis on CMC as a force in language change (kind of an update on baron 1984 but with the focus on the afforementioned linguistic aspects).

so i'm actually kind of interested in the potential phonetics/phonology of online communication - if signed languages can have a phonological system, there must be something we can do with it in written discourse. not that signed and written language are the greatest of parallels, but, um. at the very least there are things to be said about CMD sociolects that play with voicing and vowel quality in the orthography. that DTA thing looks way relevant, by the way. thanks josh!

oh, and i did very much enjoy mr. androutsopoulos's article. see his comments here :)
yep. i thought he was a she. i'll bet there's a study there somewhere... why people assign male/female to names they have no idea about. so with jannis, i was thinking "greek spelling of janis, like janis joplin, must be female". latinate names that end with 'a' i make female, and 'o' i make male. i probably do this for non-latinate name as well. 'binya'... male or female? 'bunmei'? both japanese male names. probably some interesting linsguitic stereotypes at work here.
have you thought about doing OT?
i don't delve deep into optimality theory until my advanced phonology course, so i have to firmly reject it as a framework :)
you might firmly reject it AFTER the course as well
Hi there,

there's quite a bit German-language work on linguistic, rather than socio-linguistic, issues in CMD; a good example is:

Schlobinski, Peter 2001. *knuddel – zurueckknuddel – dich ganzdollknuddel*. Inflektive und Inflektivkonstruktionen im Deutschen. In: Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 29.2, 192-218.

Discussing the syntax and semantics of inflective constructions, i.e. uses of the bare verb stem, in German-language chat. The same author also uses bits of OT in another paper to explain the selection of cliticized forms etc. in CMC, though it is again in German, so it probably won't be of any use to you...

It seems to me that German CMC research has a far greater interest in technology constraints and effects on linguistic structure than English-speaking research.... Which probably just goes to confirm our stereotypes about technology-obsessed Germans ;-)

Best wishes
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