Neuage PhD thesis on Conversational analysis of chat room talk - updated 8 November 2001

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THESIS COMPLETE .pdf

Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk PHD thesis by       Dr. Terrell Neuage  University of South Australia National Library of Australia.

THESIShome ~ Abstract.html/pdf ~ Glossary.html/pdfIntroduction.html/pdf  ~ methodology.html/pdf  ~ literature review.html/pdfCase Study 1.html/pdf~ 2.html/pdf~ 3.html/pdf~  4.html/pdf~ 5.html/pdf~  6.html/pdf~  7.html/pdf~ discussion.html/pdf  ~ conclusion.html~ postscipt.html/pdf~ O*D*A*M.html/pdf~ Bibliography.html/pdf~  911~ thesis-complete.htm/~ Terrell Neuage Home Appendixes  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  DATA ~ Case Study   1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ These links are from early notes and not the final edits which are in the published version available at the University of South Australia only. Not all links are active due to changing domains. Home page see http://neuage.co  / http://neuage.us

Acknowledgements

 

 

Theorists/writers: Norman Fairclough (1989, 1995), Deborah Tannen (1989).  2061 - Thursday, 8 November 2001

 

ANALYSIS  of chapter three             Discourse Analysis

 

A modern term (first recorded in 1952) for the linguistic analysis of stretches of language with the aim of disentangling the unspoken rituals strategies and implications built (unconsciously) into them and the inferences to be drawn from them. A standard textbook on the subject is by Gillian Brown and George Yule (1983).  The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, © Oxford University Press 1968

In linguistics and related disciplines, the analysis of 'units' larger than the sentence; e.g., in writing, an analysis of paragraphs, in speech, an analysis of turns at talking, etc.  The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology Edited by Arthur S. Reber

 

As we are going beyond the structure of the words in the chat room and are looking more at the context beyond the individual utterance for this chapter we will examine a few of the many theories regarding language development. These theories have emerged from disciplines such as linguistics, philosophy and psychology, which have influenced one another and the outcome of language acquisition theories.


Discourse analysis is concerned with the recorded text within the language system. What should happen then is that we should find generic conventions and expectations within a chat room. To do this is to expect participants to understand and use certain conventions of dialogue. As I have shown in previous case studies in this thesis there is a body of accepted linguistics, lexical and syntactic and semantic resources utilized in chat rooms.  These are often the abbreviations and the emoticons used as well as the acceptance of poor grammar and misspelt words used so often.

 

We accept these conventions of hurried utterances because the chat room dialogue passes by so quickly.  For example, I was able to copy and paste a chat in a chat room today (http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/chat/afgan.htm) that in less than five minutes had more than two-hundred-fifty turn-takings.  

 

Language acquisition occurs gradually through interaction with people and the environment.  Whether it is a new language or the first utterances of childhood or learning how to communicate in a chat room the process is the same.  There is often a trial and learning progression involved.  To have meaning in exchange understandable there has to have been prior experiences at communicating.  For example in this exchange we have turn-taking that would not have been learnt in school or in any way except through these participants having exchanged prior:

 

3)       C/       /\/       3a.     <jenniferv>

                               SCUD

10)     A/C/    /\3      6a.     <scud4>

                               hiya jenn hugz and kotc S"S"

12)     C/       /\10    2c.      <Leesa39>

                               heyyyyyy scud

14)     C/       /\10    3c.      <jenniferv>

                              heheh scud

15)     C/       /\12    6b.     <scud4>

                               leesa ltns hugz and kotc  S"S"

18)     A/       /\15    1b.     <tab_002>

                               hiya scud

23)     C/       /\15    2d.     <Leesa39>

                               same to ya scud

29)     C/       /\23    6c.      <scud4>      

                              thanx leesa  "S"

 

What can we make of <scud4>’s popularity in these exchanges? <Leesa39>, <tab_002>, and <jenniferv> each seems familiar enough with <scud4> to carry on what would have to be a conversation.  We will look briefly at the concept of an anti-language as a way of understanding this exchange.  Halliday has written extensively on the topic of anti-language referring to it as slang developed by members of “anti-societies” such as criminals and prisoners.  My Honours degree from Deakin University (“graffiti as text” 1995) focused on anti-language as the language of gangs, adolescents and hip-hop/graffiti crews. In my thesis I researched the development of language that graffiti crews used to communicate with one another.  Mary Bucholtz’s essay: “Word Up: Social Meanings of Slang in California Youth Culture[i], investigates identity within linguistic anthropology of her core subjects and her research is useful in this study of chat room only to note:

 

Eckert and McConnell-Ginet advance the concept of the community of practice as a useful alternative to the speech community, the traditional unit of sociolinguistic and linguistic-anthropological analysis. Where the speech community proposes language, in one aspect or another, as the basis of community definition, the community-of-practice model instead considers language as one among many social practices in which community members engage; such practices, in which different community members participate to different degrees, are the foundation both of community and of identity.

 

anti-language or a language of defiance By Sami Gorgan Roodi
August 1, 2001 in The Iranian[ii]

I believe that in order to fight linguistic imperialism, we need to devise a language of defiance and struggle and create an anti-language to resist the capitalist-Imperialist-racist-sexist-terrorist faith and berate the falsity and vacuity of their linguistic culture.

This "anti-language" can be defined as a language of protest that acts against strategic and false use of words by exposing the horrors that have been covered in euphemistic words and phrases. This anti-language would help us to debunk the deceptive language of the Establishment in an attempt to bring people face to face with the darker sides of capitalist ideology.

 

Language acquisition theories have basically centred around “nurture” and “nature” distinction or on “empiricism” and “nativism”. The doctrine of empiricism[iii] holds that all knowledge comes from experience, ultimately from our interaction with the environment through our reasoning or senses. How does this work in a chat room? 

 

Chat room dialogue centres on the assumption that someone else within the room is able to interpret their words. Going beyond their individual turn-taking gives us an insight into what the speaker is saying or asking.  However, chat rooms do not provide an opportunity to see the context of all one has to say in a holistic manner.  There is seldom even a coherent chain of speak-events.  For example, in the following, <jenniferv> has made eight entrances or utterances in a space of seventy-eight-turns (turns 3 – 81).  Below is the eight turns.  If <jenniferv> had a point about anything then it becomes missed.

 

3)       C/       /\/       3a.     <jenniferv>

                               SCUD

6)       C/                 3b.     <jenniferv>

   *)                         nice to see you to tab ;)

14)     C/       /\10    3c.      <jenniferv>

                              heheh scud

26)     A/       /\21    3d.     <jenniferv>

   *)                         buh bye scud ;)

39)     ?/                 3e.     <jenniferv>

   **                        LOL

57)     D/       /\54    3f.      <jenniferv>

                               good tab and you?

73)     B/                 3g.     <jenniferv>

   **                        rofl

81)     A/                 2j.       <jenniferv>

                               hiya ray

 

As we can see there is little coherence in the sum-total of <jenniferv>’s conversation.  What if we take the previous turns, the ones we assume <jenniferv> is responding too?  Will this make <jenniferv>’s  conversation coherent?

 

The previous turn that this, below turn-taking, is in response to is not known as this, like most chat rooms is a ‘jumped into’ conversation.

3)       C/       /\/       3a.     <jenniferv>

                               SCUD

1)       A/C/    /\/       1a.     <tab_002>

   *)                         HI nice to see you too Jennv :)))))))

6)       C/                 3b.     <jenniferv>

   *)                         nice to see you to tab ;)

10)     A/C/    /\3      6a.     <scud4>

                               hiya jenn hugz and kotc S"S"

14)     C/       /\10    3c.      <jenniferv>

                              heheh scud

21)     ---                 <scud4>

                               <----on his way to the main room

26)     A/       /\21    3d.     <jenniferv>

   *)                         buh bye scud ;)

36)     ---                 6d.     <scud4>

                               <----is now door testin

39)     ?/                 3e.     <jenniferv>

   **                        LOL

54)     G/      /\39    1d.     <tab_002>

                              so how you been jenn?

57)     D/       /\54    3f.      <jenniferv>

                               good tab and you?

It is not clear who the below ‘rofl’ is addressed to.

73)     B/                 3g.     <jenniferv>

   **                        rofl

It is not clear who the below is addressed to as no one in the chat room had the name ray.

81)     A/                 2j.       <jenniferv>

                               hiya ray

 

With dialogue such as the above we are left to ponder what exactly is going on with communication in a chat room.  As has been shown in the previous chat room dialogues and is obvious in any other chat room presented in this study, there seldom is a lot to base where we are going when exchanging turns in a chat room.

 

In other words can we establish what the purpose of the person in a chat rooms is through utterances?  For an act of speaking (locution[iv]) in a face-to-face conversation to be valid as a locution, an utterance must be grammatical and draw on a recognisable lexical wordlist. In this reading, a locution has meaning independently of the context in which it is used. Using the utterance in context amounts to lending it a particular force (illocution[v]).

 

However, what do we make of the following discourse in this chat room?

 

7)                           5b.     <B_witched_2002-guest>

                              0HI

 

Is there a recognisable lexical wordlist involved?  This ‘OHI’ occurs 37 times in the 89 turn-takings recorded, or 42 % of the utterances have these turn-takings involved. We surely do not have lexical cohesion.

 

“Continuity may be established in a text by the choice of words.  This may take the form of word repetition; or the choice of a word that is related in some way to a previous one..” Haliday (1994 p. 310)

 

 

Many statements are ambiguous in isolation but clear in context or are amenable to logical analysis: although there are scores of meanings of see, someone who speaks of seeing someone online is not likely to be using the word in the sense of seeing you in front of me, although that is possible and may in some circumstances be so.

 

1)       A/C/    /\/       1a.     <tab_002>

   *)                         HI nice to see you too Jennv :)))))))

 

6)       C/                 3b.     <jenniferv>

   *)                         nice to see you to tab ;)

 

In this chat room no one is being seen as we would consider seeing someone with our eyes but <tab_002> and <jenniferv> see one another.

 

And of course <tab_002> sees others.

 

31)     A/       /\29    1c.      <tab_002>

                               see ya scud

 

Then in context we know, because this is a chat room that does not boast cam-cameras (this was a couple of years before their general popularity) that seeing someone may mean seeing their action, what they are doing in the chat room.  For example, <B_witched_2002-guest>  says the same thing over and over and  <Leesa39> responds to this annoyance by saying:

 

68)     C/       /\67    2g.     <Leesa39>

                               B_witched we see ya

 

Some  theoreticians have based their discourse theories on environmental factors while others believed that it is the innate factors that determine the acquisition of language.  We can not assume what the innate factors here are but the acquisition of language, if shown here, is of limiting value.  What is shown in chat rooms is the invention or even the reinvention of communication using the minimal amount of words.

 

Possessing a language is the quintessentially human trait.  The Internet chat room, in its universality, is in the process of redefining what the language is that we are going to use in the future to communicate.  It is possible that these exchanges that are presented here are part of the entertainment cycle of the chat room inhabitant.  However, just as in any casual conversation the importance of exchange is fundamental to who we are and how we understand our world around us. Without language we can not understand one another and it this currently new language used that will tell how we will communicate in the future.  If chat room language and turn-taking dialogue becomes a normal way of communication then our every day conversation will be just as incoherent.

 

The acquisition of computer based language is just as important as the learning of a child to speak.  Because it computer-speak is done by people who already have a basic language it is a learning of a new language or a shortening of linguistics to what would be in a social person-to-person setting a series of grunts or maybe even just hand signals.  Chat room conversation is similar to earlier forms of communication such as smoke-signals.  They are simple in their expression but meaning is derived from knowing what they mean in context.

 

The primary intents and purposes of the practice of linguistic science, directly point to its fundamental capacity to convey, to transfer and to exchange meaningful information by physical means of expressing and exchanging information.

 

For example, with respect to our special species' case, we cannot alter the fundamental nature of the matter, whether the physical signals are sent in the secondary form of smoke signals from hilltop to hilltop, or by way of drumbeats from jungle settlement to jungle settlement, or whether the physical signals are sent in the secondary form of fiber-optic cable telephone signals from sea to shining sea and from shore to shifting shore, or in any of the various, possible other secondary physical forms of different ways of which there are many more.

http://www.nuclear-free.com/savage/partthree.htm#four

 

Structural Linguistics

 

FROM SMOKE SIGNALS TO THE INTERNET - http://www.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/ELLS/conf.html

 

1.   Smoke signals and Internet

2.     http://www.ccci.or.jp/newsletter/96autumn_e/issues.html

 

 It is, however, important to note that neither nurturists (environmentalists) disagree thoroughly with the nativist ideas nor do nativists with the nurturist ideas. Only the weight they lay on the environmental and innate factors is relatively little or more. Before sifting through language acquisition theories here, therefore, making a distinction between these two types of perspectives will be beneficial for a better understanding of various language acquisition theories and their implications for the field of applied linguistics. In the following paragraphs, the two claims posed by the proponents of the two separate doctrines will be explained and the reason why such a distinction has been made in this article will be clarified.

Environmentalist theories of language acquisition hold that an organism’s nurture, or experience, are of more significance to development than its nature or inborn contributions. Yet they do not completely reject the innate factors. Behaviorist and neo-behaviorist stimulus-response learning theories (S-R for simplicity) are the best known examples. Even though such theories have lost their effect partially because of Chomsky’s intelligent review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (Chomsky, 1959), their effect has not been so little when we consider the present cognitive approach as an offshoot of behaviorism.

 


The nativist theories, on the other hand, assert that much of the capacity for language learning in human is ‘innate’. It is part of the genetic makeup of human species and is nearly independent of any particular experience which may occur after birth. Thus, the nativists claim that language acquisition is innately determined and that we are born with a built-in device which predisposes us to acquire language. This mechanism predisposes us to a systematic perception of language around us. Eric Lenneberg (cited in Brown, 1987:19), in his attempt to explain language development in the child, assumed that language is a species - specific behavior and it is ‘biologically determined’. Another important point as regards the innatist account is that nativists do not deny the importance of environmental stimuli, but they say language acquisition cannot be accounted for on the basis of environmental factors only. There must be some innate guide to achieve this end. In Table 1 below, a classification around the nurture/nature distinction has been made.

 

Discourse and Frames

 'Reframing' is a way to talk about going back and re-interpreting the meaning of the first sentence. Frame analysis is a type of discourse analysis that asks, What activity are speakers engaged in when they say this? What do they think they are doing by talking in this way at this time? (Tannen [vi])

 

 

 

 

Notes and bibliography for case study three



[i]  Bucholtz , Mary.  Word Up: Social Meanings of Slang in California Youth Culture” - http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/chat/youth_slang.htm accessed, Thursday, 8 November 2001

 

[ii]  Irianian on_line - (http://www.iranian.com/Opinion/2001/August/Language/index.html)

[iii] Empiricism, philosophical doctrine holding that all knowledge is derived from experience, whether of the mind or of the senses. Thus it opposes the rationalist belief in the existence of innate ideas. A doctrine basic to the scientific method, empiricism is associated with the rise of experimental science after the 17th cent. It has been a dominant tradition in British philosophy, as in the works at John Locke, David Hume, and George Berkeley. Most empiricists acknowledge certain a priori truths (e.g., principles of mathematics and logic), but John Stuart Mill and others have treated even these as generalizations deduced from experience.

From the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1991 by Columbia University Press.

See also: the reference site at http://www.xrefer.com/entry/551908 for more on emiricism.

 

[iv] Locution: From: xrefer  http://www.xrefer.com/   - from Latin locutio/locutionis (style of) speech, from loqui/locutus to speak]. (1) The act of speaking; utterance; speech as the expression of thought; (style of) discourse. (2) A formal, technical, sometimes pedantic term for an utterance, word, phrase, or idiom, especially if regarded as characteristic of a social or regional group: Irish locutions. (3) The base on which the British philosopher J. L. Austin coined a set of terms for the discussion of utterance and its consequences: 'The act of "saying something" ... I call, i.e. dub, the performance of a locutionary act, and the study of utterances thus far and in these respects the study of locutions, or of full units of speech' (How to Do Things with Words, 1962/75, ch. 8). For Austin, a locutionary act is an act of speaking (a result of locution); an illocutionary act is an act of speaking that promises, requests, suggests, warns, etc. (a result of illocution); a perlocutionary act is an act that leads to an action of some kind on the part of a listener (a result of perlocution, an instance being a perlocution), such as laughing, complaining, or departing. 'He said that I should go' is locutionary; 'He argued that I should go' is illocutionary; and 'He convinced me that I should go' is perlocutionary. The Oxford Companion to the English Language, © Tom McArthur 1992

 

[v] Illocutionary act: From: xrefer  http://www.xrefer.com/  Applied in the theory of speech acts to the force that an expression of some specific form will have when it is uttered. E.g. a speaker might stop someone and say 'Please, can you help me?' By virtue of its form (interrogative preceded by please) this would have the illocutionary force of a request for assistance.                                                                                                                                           Cf. locutionary; perlocutionary. In the theory developed by Austin and his successors, the simple act of uttering this sentence is a locutionary act; the illocutionary act is that of uttering it as a request; the perlocutionary act is what is accomplished by uttering it (e.g. the addressee might ignore the request, or might in fact help). But what is 'illocutionary' and what is 'perlocutionary' plainly depends on how much is judged to flow conventionally from the form of an utterance. E.g. if the chairman of a meeting says 'This meeting is now closed', this may be seen as a formula which has the illocutionary force of closing it. But its form is more generally that of a statement, and, as made by the chairman, it might instead be claimed to have that as its perlocutionary effect.

[vi]  Tannen online - http://www.lsadc.org/web2/discourse.html sited 8/11/2001

 

 

Haliday, M. A. X.  Functional Grammar. St Martin’s Press Inc. New York New York, 1994

 

http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/chapter3/bib_notes.htm  - Empiricism

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