LINGUIST List 10.1649

Sun Oct 31 1999

Disc: New Re: Cyber-linguistic Questions

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Michael McHale, Cyber-linguistic Questions

Message 1: Cyber-linguistic Questions

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 14:09:36 -0400
From: Michael McHale <>
Subject: Cyber-linguistic Questions

Larry Chong has raised some interesting questions here. My expertise is
email so I was pleased to see the viewpoint from an IRC perspective.

> 1. Why netizns love to use as many acronyms as they could?
> Ex) By the way --->BTW
> ****the tendency toward the use of reduced forms may reflect the
> importance of minimizing the effort required to communicate one's
> The pace of communicative exchange in such an environment is pretty
> especially among those who are "veteran" users and who feel they
belong to
> an online community or communities, such as a an IRC channel.
> **** to show their strong ties....
> linguistic economy
> 2. Why it occurs all over the sentences?
> Ex) How are you? -->How R U?
> This particular example is a good example of the minimal effort
> Since the pronunciation of the letters 'R' and 'U' are equivalent to
> words 'are' and 'you', then use of the letters would allow one to get
> same message across with only two keystrokes instead of six. This may
> seem like that big a difference, but when one is talking to several
> in the same channel or separately, things tend to become very
> So anything that can be done to "say more with less" is definitely a

If this analysis is correct then we should expect shifts in spelling as
from good -> gud,
know -> kno,
Perhaps the simplification of English spelling is finally under way.

The fascinating part for me is that the culture of IRC effects the
culture of email which in turn effects the culture of advertising
which effects everybody's language. I would expect the diachronic
linguists would find this highly volitile, rapidly changing language
use of particular interest. Professor Chong is currect when he said,
"I am sure that the more time netizens spend on line(CMC), the more
topics we will have to research and resolve".

Michael L. McHale
Senior Research Scientist
MNIS TextWise Labs
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