Using CMC in order to investigate the language system

Using CMC in order to investigate the language system

Elke Hentschel (University of Berne, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch055
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Abstract

Chats, blogs, mailing lists, personal e-mails or texts that can be found on homepages, in short all kinds of computer-mediated communication, offer a very good opportunity to observe ongoing forms of language change as well as language awareness on the part of the?users. The new medium makes it possible to watch the emergence of new rules at the same time as they are being formed, and to observe current processes of linguistic reanalysis by the language users. Observations of this kind are possible on all levels of the language system, with regard to phonetics and the phonological system as well as to morphology, morpho-syntax and syntax. This chapter will give a short résumé of the research that has been done so far in this field and outline the many further possibilities of exploration that have not yet been followed up.
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Phonetics And Orthography

Phonetics and the underlying phonological system are mirrored in what shall here be called “spontaneous orthography”. What is meant thereby is the way of spelling people use under the informal and often temporarily restricted conditions of CMC. Especially in all forms of chat, writing has to be done quickly, generating not only an abundance of abbreviations, but also leading to negligence of spelling rules. The spontaneous orthography that can be observed in these cases offers an inside into the speakers' unconscious knowledge of spelling rules, and into ongoing phonetic and phonological developments as well as into socio- and dialectal varieties (cf. e. g. Burri 2003, Siebenhaar 2003). In the following, two examples shall be given to illustrate (a) phonological awareness and/or ongoing phonological change and (b) unconscious awareness of orthographical rules.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Orthography: spelling rules

Language change: modification of phonological, morphological and syntactic features of a language

Language system: system in the Saussurian sense of the word, set of phonological, morphological and syntactic features of a language

Morphology: analysis of word structure

Morpho-syntax: analysis of categories or linguistic units with both morphological and syntactic properties

CMC: computer-mediated communication: communication via chats, blogs, mailing lists, personal e-mails or texts that are to be found on homepages

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