Neuage – PhD research into conversational analysis of chat room talk – this page is a very rough draft.  Individual case studies and other areas are being worked on at various times. 29-Nov-01


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.  ~ 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

Britney Spears chat room is case study five of a research study into chat room conversation by Terrell Neuage for a PhD at the University of South Australia


Thursday, 29 November 2001


In this case study I am hoping to create an integration of semantics and pragmatics. To establish an analysis of dialogue I need to have both semantic representation, (content of what the different ‘speakers’ in a chat room are saying), and pragmatic information, (the kinds of speech acts they are performing, such as; are they asking a question, answering a question that has just been asked, or just announcing their presence? The list of different pragmatics I use are available in the ‘data’ section -  - section) In this case study I hope to identify a dialogue system which will identify both semantic and pragmatic information.


notes re.


The semiotic triangle  



Word as Sign, Language as Code:




Pragmatic accounts of co-reference (Prince, Levinson, Clark): Referring as a cooperative/collaborative process


When we examine the turn-taking considerations of face-to-face conversations in order to hear a message correctly, one person must be listening and not talking or being active in a non-listening manner, because the message itself is evanescent. of a chat room Also since it is relatively easy to notice the completion of utterances, turn taking can be easily regulated. The situation is different for our media, however. First of all, the messages will persist (in the MOO until they scroll off the screen, and in the whiteboard until explicitly deleted). Also, since the receiver can only notice the message when it has been completed, it is quite possible that both partners are composing messages at the same time. Thus we often observe crossed-topics in turn-taking in which an utterance ignores the previous utterance and, it relates back to a previous one.


According to Noam Chomsky, Galileo regarded the discovery of a means to communicate our "most secret thoughts to any other person with 24 little characters" as the greatest of all human inventions.[i] Whether our communication with one another will change as a result of chat rooms is a possibility.  Using emoticons to represent what could take a sentence to explain is our latest communicative invention.  Instead of saying ‘I didn’t really mean what I said I was laughing or at least smiling when I wrote what I just wrote’ once could simply put :) which on most computers becomes J to say it short and simply.


Areas which Person-to-person linguistic studies are based on that will not be used in this  section are; phonetics (study of speech sounds as sound) which we will do not use in this chat room research which is based on text only turn-taking and phonology (phonology is the study of speech sounds as a system in language) which we will do not use in this chat room research which is based on text only turn-taking. 


What I will look at in the Britney Spears Chat room is  morphology’ (Morphology is the study of the smallest meaningful pieces of language, known as morphemes, which can be words or parts of words. The study of the structure of words, as opposed to syntax, the study of the arrangement of words in the higher units of phrases, clauses, and sentences), syntax (Syntax is the study of the structure of morphological units within a [grammatical] sentence.), semantics (Semantics is the study of meaning in language.) and pragmatics (Pragmatics is the study of language use in the world)., and how do they relate?


What I wish to locate in this case study… focusing on -


Replacement repairers switch the direction of upcoming talk through substitution of part of a prior talk – the turn-taking utterance before.


Shifting in the intention of the ‘speaker’ -  compare this to the meta-linguistic phrases found if they exist in the chat


Focus on properties of the code (on ‘langue’) as well as speech used in speech situation.


Ethno-methodology focuses attention on the common sense procedures used by individuals to construct social worlds.  ‘Ethno’ is the Greek word for a people or nation and its usage in our study will be the methodology used for the linguistic behaviour patterns of chat room participators.


Finding recurrent patterns of morphemes – independent of either their meaning or their relationships to non-textual interactions –


The illocutionary force of an utterance is often signalled by particles, conjunctions, and interjections.


A performative verb[ii] specifies all of the illocutionary force whereas particles and conjunctions usually specify only some parts of the illocutionary force.




Table one are the types of phrases used (ie. Greeting, answers etc) in the Britney Spears chat room.

Table two denotes abbreviation, emoticon and the beginning of threads of conversation in the Britney Spears chat room.

Table three are the user names of the participants in the Britney Spears chat room.

Table four is the raw data as it occurred in the Britney Spears chat room.

Table five lists the utterances used without user name or other coding devices in the Britney Spears chat room.

Table seven are all words in the Britney Spears chat room separated in order of appearance in the chat room.                                      Table eight are the words in alphabetic order as well as number of occurrences for each word and word type.



[i]Language and Mind: Current Thoughts on Ancient Problems (Part 1) Noam Chomsky: sited online: 25/10/2001




[ii] Performative Verb - A term used in philosophy and linguistics for a type of verb (apologize, forbid, inform, promise, request, thank) that can explicitly convey the kind of speech act being performed. In saying I apologize for my behaviour, someone is making an apology, which could also be done in part at least without such a verb: My behaviour was utterly deplorable. Generally, the performative verb in such sentences is in the simple present active and the subject is 1, but the verb may be in the simple present passive and the subject need not be 1: Smoking is forbidden; The committee thanks you for your services. A test for whether a verb is being used performatively is the possible insertion of hereby: I hereby apologize; The committee hereby thanks you. In hedged performatives, the verb is present but the speech act is performed indirectly: in saying I must apologize for my behaviour, the speaker is expressing an obligation to make an apology, but implies that the acknowledgement of that obligation is the same as an apology. In contrast, I apologized is a report, and Must I apologize? is a request for advice. The Oxford Companion to the English Language, © Tom McArthur 1992






James, William.  Pragmatism: A new Name for some Old Ways of Thinking. New Yhork: Longmans, Green, 1907. P. 45.