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Dissertation Information for Laura L. Christopherson

- Laura L. Christopherson

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (USA) (2013)

- Stephanie Haas

- Jeffrey Pomerantz
- Barbara Marie Wildemuth
- Brian W. Sturm
- Connie Eble

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: OMG! L2spell online: The creative vocabulary of cyberlanguage s(~_^)--b

Abstract: Increasing use of the Internet has led to a proliferation of online communication and information sharing media. These media, each with its own set of affordances and limitations, are thought to encourage new ways to communicate. Interlocutors refashion general English into abbreviated and often pictographic representations of existing concepts.

Prior research has made suppositions about the effects these media have on communication; for example, that synchronous media (e.g., chat) encourage interlocutors to use more abbreviations (e.g., acronyms) than in asynchronous media (e.g., email). These suppositions, however, have not been fully tested because most studies focus on a single medium. Yet a more comprehensive understanding of this language--hereafter referred to as cyberlanguage --as it manifests across various online media is needed as users increasingly employ the Internet for communications. Furthermore, such an understanding may help information professionals improve information tools (e.g., search engines, summarization, surveillance) that currently rely on more standard forms of writing for their success.

The research described here addresses this need by creating and linguistically analyzing a corpus of texts containing 136,529 tokens (23,912 types) that span multiple media (forums, email, text messaging, instant messaging, and chat) and communication situations (business, virtual reference, hobbies, health/well-being). Terms were classified according to linguistic feature (e.g., acronyms, emoticons). Chi-square tests were used to compare the frequencies of features across media and communication situation.

Contrary to current thinking abut "technological determinism," results show that cyberlanguage feature use varies based on medium and situation, which validates the notion that technology and other situational variables exert influence over communication behavior. New terms are being created all the time online and this suggests rapid language change and linguistic creativity. Interlocutors create new terms to bridge the physical distance between them, such as using surrogate face-to-face cues to make the text seem more like face-to-face speech. However, some cyberlanguage terms and features are quite ordinary and conventional, and may be considered online staples. The number of tokens that contained cyberlanguage features assumed a small portion of the language used online, so fears about cyberlanguage signaling the demise of "proper" English can be allayed.

MPACT Scores for Laura L. Christopherson

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2014-07-23 18:44:16

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Students under Laura L. Christopherson

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