December 1996

Root Page of Article: A Broad Collection of Research on CMC, by Leslie Regan Shade

Linguistic Perspectives

The five articles assembled in this section examine the similarities and differences between CMC and spoken and written language. The method of inquiry is that of corpus linguistics (lexico-grammatical analysis), conversation analysis, and text linguistics. Milena Collot and Nancy Belmore dub the language people use on BBS's "Electronic Language", which they describe as "characterized by a set of situational constraints which sets it apart from other varieties of English.

Messages delivered electronically are neither 'spoken' nor 'written' in the conventional sense of these words. There is an easy interaction of participants and and alternation of topics typical of some varieties of spoken english.However, they cannot be strictly labelled as spoken messages since the participants neither see nor hear each other. Nor can they be considered strictly written since many of them are composed directly online, thereby ruling out the use of planning and editing strategies which are at the disposal of even the most informal writer" (p. 14). Collot and Belmore empirically study Electronic Language through Biber's multidimensional-multi-feature (MD-MF) analysis.

Simeon Yates reports on the findings of a large corpus-based comparison between spoke, written, and CMC discourse, while Sherri Condon and Claude Cech analyze whether synchronous CMC resembles oral or written interaction through studying synchronous machine-mediated interaction, which they dub S- interactions. Christopher Werry examines the linguistic and interactional features in Internet Relay Chat (IRC). By focusing on exchange structures, forms of addressivity, abbreviation, prosody, and gesture, Werry proposes that "Communication on IRC is shaped at many different levels by the drive to reproduce or stimulate the discursive style of face-to-face spoken language" (p.61).

Susan Herring follows up on her earlier work on the gender dynamics in CMC (see "Bringing Familiar Baggage to the New Frontier"")through analyzing the schematic structure of electronic messages posted publicly by women and men to two listservs. In particular, she examines the stereotype of the informative male and the interactive female computer network user. Herring concludes that, although both women and men participate in e-discussion groups to exchange opinions, beliefs, and information, "women's messages on both lists tend to be aligned and supportive in orientation, while men's messages tend to oppose and criticize others" (p.104).

-Social and Ethical Perspectives | Cross-cultural Perspectives | CMC and Group Interactions

Contents Archive Sponsors Studies Contact