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. 30-Jan-02


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



Back to Introduction of Britney Spears chat room

General chat in a topic specific chatroom -Britney Spears Chat Room 'Chat Room '4/01/00  (case study 5) Wednesday, 30 January 2002  return to case study five index  to thesis mappings    


   Theory investigated: Pragmatics [i]



Analytical tools developed in pragmatics have found frequent application in discourse analysis. Much of Pragmatics grew out of Natural Language Philosophy:  Wittgenstein “meaning as use” and “language games”

In this case study I will use pragmatics to examine the utterances in the turn-taking exchanges.  Pragmatics examines. “…the problem of how listeners uncover speakers' intentions…” (McArthur 1992). In pragmatics research speech acts and semantic formulas are difficult to define; therefore, it is difficult to develop means in which to categorize semantic formulas. This case study will code the turn-taking sequences to find discourse markers in order to establish the role of a speakers’ intention in a chat room.

As communication analysis is an investigation into meaning generation, pragmatics

Pragmatics is sometimes included into systemic semantics. (I will discuss this briefly in case study six – baseball chat when I am looking at different linguistic schools of research)

De Saussure[ii] constitutes a key work for whoever is interested in the language and the languages; it is regarded as founder of modern linguistics. It is there that are expressed for the first time certain of the most fertile concepts of linguistics: binary oppositions (langue/parole, signifiant/signifié, synchronie/diachronie), arbitrary of the sign. These concepts will be largely refined or disputed, and will nourish the reflexion of generations of linguists.

Semantics is divided into three components:

The Lexico-Grammar concerns the syntactic organisation of words into utterances. Even here, a functional approach is taken, involving analysis of the utterance in terms of roles such as Actor, Agent/Medium, Theme Mood, etc. (See Halliday 1994 for full description).

I will also briefly examine how emotions are too a ‘representation of meaning’ or ‘semantic representation’.  This notion of meaning representation borrows from Noam Chomsky’s ”Form and meaning in Natural Language” (Augenstein 1969)

New approaches to pragmatics include studies of:
Ø          Optimality theory (OT) [iii]
Ø          Extensions of Lexical Semantics[iv]
Ø          Extensions of classical pragmatic approaches


Optimality theory (OT) The acquisition of syntax and phonology.  Optimality Theory (OT) is based solely on constraints which are employed in such a way that derivation is a secondary aspect of the language process.

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.

Next analysis




[i]  Pragmatics

1.      As originally developed, the study of the relationship between the signs used (words, expressions, etc.) and the uses of them.

2.      [1930s: from Greek pragmatikós, from prâgma matter in hand, action, on the analogy of linguistics]. A branch of linguistics which originally examined the problem of how listeners uncover speakers' intentions. It is sometimes defined as the study of 'speaker meaning', as opposed to linguistic meaning: the utterance I'm thirsty might need to be interpreted as Go and buy me a drink and should not necessarily be taken at face value as a simple statement. The term is usually attributed to the British philosopher Charles Morris (1938 - 71), who distinguished between syntax (the relations of signs to one another), semantics (the relations of signs to objects), and pragmatics (the relations of signs to interpretations). Recently, pragmatics has expanded into a wide and somewhat vague topic which includes anything relating to the way in which people communicate that cannot be captured by conventional linguistic analysis. Within pragmatics, discourse analysis (the study of language in discourse) has become a major focus of attention. The Oxford Companion to the English Language, © Tom McArthur 1992 online: 30 January 2002

3.     More recently, due largely to the work of Austin and Searle in the 1950s and 1960s, a rather general endeavor encompassing philosophical, linguistic, sociological and psychological aspects of the use and effects of verbal signs and forms. Pragmatics differs from most other areas of linguistic endeavor in its emphasis on the function of various language forms rather than on the forms alone. Pragmatics is often equated with speech-act theory, although it should be noted that the latter is more properly only one theory of pragmatics. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, © Arthur S. Reber 1995 online: 30 January 2002


3.  Semantics [1890s: from French sémantique, Greek semantikós significant, from sêma a sign]. The study of meaning. The term has at least five linked senses: (1) Sometimes semasiology. In linguistics, the study of the meaning of words and sentences, their denotations, connotations, implications, and ambiguities. The three levels or components of a common model of language are phonology, syntax, and semantics. (2) In philosophy, the study of logical expression and of the principles that determine the truth or falsehood of sentences. (3) In semiotics, the study of signs and what they refer to, and of responses to those signs. (4) In general usage, interest in the meanings of words, including their denotations, connotations, implications, and ambiguities. (5) Informally and often pejoratively, the making of (pedantic and impractical) distinctions about the meaning and use of words.


Every aspect of meaning which cannot be stated in truth-conditional terms is pragmatics; the distinction is close to that of sentence and utterance meaning. But there are problems with this distinction and with the exclusion of reference. Thus, such deictic relationships as here/there and this/that, and words such as today and the personal pronouns, appear to contribute to sentence meaning, yet depend for their interpretation on reference, which varies according to the identity of speaker and hearer and the time and place of the utterance. The Oxford Companion to the English Language, © Tom McArthur 1992 online: 30 January 2002



[ii] Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) is usually considered to be the father of modern linguistics. Born in Geneva into an illustrious family that included famous natural scientists, Saussure trained as a comparative philologist, studying (1876-78) in Leipzig, the main center of the Neogrammatical movement. There he gave precocious proof of his genius with a Mémoire (1879) containing insights that lie at the root of some of the most interesting twentieth-century developments in comparative philology. After a period of studying and teaching in Paris (1880-91), Saussure was called in 1891 to teach Sanskrit in Geneva. He published relatively little in his lifetime (see his Recueil 1922). Between 1907 and 1911, he taught three courses in general linguistics to small groups of students. After his death, two of his colleagues (Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, with the help of one of his students, Albert Riedlinger), on the basis of students' lecture notes and some of Saussure's own jottings, compiled a coherent Cours de linguistique générale (CLG; 1916). It proved to be perhaps the most influential text in linguistics, at least up to the publication of Noam Chomsky's work. Cut from accessed Wednesday, 30 January 2002



[iii] Optimality Theory Theory of constraints in phonology, floated in the early to mid-1990s, in which any universal constraint on the form that units can take is capable, in principle, of being broken; in any particular case, however, the constraints will be arranged in a hierarchy from least readily to most readily broken, and their optimal application to forms in a particular language can be computed from this. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics, © Oxford University Press 1997 online: 30 January 2002


[iv] Lexical Semantics A term in linguistics for the study of the meaning of words, phrases, and lexemes, especially in sets rather than in isolation. See Lexical Field/Set, Semantics. [Language]. T.McA.  The Oxford Companion to the English Language, © Tom McArthur 1992 online: 30 January 2002