A first glimpse at Mobile Instant Messaging: some sociolinguistic factors

Autores UPV
Revista Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics (Online)


Despite the vast body of research on the linguistic peculiarities of Instant Messaging and Short Messaging Service, little is known about the language used in Mobile Instant Messaging in a cross-generational and cross-cultural context. To fill in this gap, the cross-linguistic study addressed here is an attempt to approach age-specific variation from a blended ethnography approach. The current research is grounded on an analysis of a naturally-occurring dataset of WhatsApp messages from the point of view of oralisation and deviations from standard forms. Two distinct generations of English and Spanish texters provide empirical data on the parameters of the oralised written discourse suggested by Yus (2011): emoticons, orthographic mistakes, phonetic orthography, abbreviations, acronyms and clippings, and the use of words in other languages. Subsequently, an analysis of the interviews held with the writers approaches the factors that may determine language variation in the messages. The conclusions drawn highlight the persistent use of deviations from standard language of English and Spanish teenagers. The study confirms a higher frequency of a conversational style in Spanish than in English. Not only brevity and speed reasons but also familiarity, playfulness and intimacy with the addressee are behind the intentional variations used.