Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. INTRODUCTION 3 2. DESCRIPTION OF PECULIARITIES IN LANGUAGE USAGE IN INFORMAL E-MAIL MESSAGES 5 2.1. SENTENCE STRUCTURE 6 2.1.1. Statements 6

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION 3

2. DESCRIPTION OF PECULIARITIES IN LANGUAGE USAGE IN INFORMAL E-MAIL MESSAGES 5

2.1. SENTENCE STRUCTURE 6

2.1.1. Statements 6

2.1.2. Questions 8

2.2. VOCABULARY 9

2.2.1. Symbols 9

2.2.2. Abbreviations and Acronyms 10

2.2.3. Emotes 12

2.2.4. Spoken Inarticulations 12

2.2.5. Word Formation 13

2.3. SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION 13

2.3.1. Spelling 13

2.3.2. Punctuation 15

3. GENDER DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE USAGE IN INFORMAL E-MAIL MESSAGES 17

4. CONCLUSIONS 21

5. BIBLIOGRAPHY 22

1. INTRODUCTION

Computer mediated communication is a relatively new usage of language, and has a great potential for linguistic researches.

It is strikingly playful. Millions of people are playing with their computer keyboards, with such humble means as commas, colons, and backslashes. Not only hackers, computer addicts and children but even serious adults are playing with identity, frames of interaction, and typographic symbols – language.

On the computer keyboard, creative individuals sometimes produce amazing effects. Some of these peculiarities have become conventions of computer mediated conventions and will be described in the paper.

One might call digital writing “poor taste” or consider it being in conflict with standards of good writing associated with literate culture, however, for many of us it is a reality, a new cyberspace culture.

Computer mediated communication includes synchronous and asynchronous form of communication. This paper concentrates on the asynchronous form represented by e-mail messages. Only informal messages were considered, since they more differ from the traditional letter writing style and are closer to chat rooms or synchronous communication.

Informal e-mail communications is an active interaction, and its language reminds oral communication more than a written document.

In order to describe peculiarities of language usage in e-mail messages, a random selection of messages is analysed. The paper looks for differences between traditional writing and e-mails regarding sentence structure, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation.

Since there are researches on whether the language usage peculiarities differ according to gender of the writer in computer mediated communication, it was decided to include also a little investigation on this question regarding the selected messages. However, this investigation includes a small number of messages and is not complete, therefore the results can be used only as hypothesis for deeper researches.

This paper consists of the analysis part and 3 appendices: A: list of symbols with explanations (in Russian, copy of an article published in the Russian newspaper “Subbota”, B: list of acronyms used in chat rooms, and C: selected messages for analysis.

This material has been prepared in co-operation with computer specialists krisjaniz and Romans.

2. DESCRIPTION OF PECULIARITIES IN LANGUAGE USAGE IN INFORMAL E-MAIL MESSAGES

Peculiarities of e-mail come from very different sources and have developed due to very different reasons and purposes. One of the dominant sources is hackish slang. Hackers, as a rule, love wordplay and are very conscious in their use of language . Since hackers are computer people, their slang is closely connected with programming languages, though it is not the only factor. According to “Jargon File”, there are “low-context” and “high-context” communication types, the first being characterised by precision, clarity, and completeness of self-contained utterances, typical of cultures that value logic, objectivity, individualism, and competition; the latter being elliptical, emotive, nuance-filled, multi-modal, and heavily coded, associated with cultures that value subjectivity, consensus, co-operation, and tradition. Hackerdom is themed around extremely low-context interaction and exhibits primarily “low-context” values, but cultivates a “high-context” slang style, which is so coded, nuance-full and emotional that could be placed next to poetry. Presence of emotions and nuances makes e-mail language close to the traditional letter writing style, while codes are characteristic of computer-mediated communication only.

One of the main purposes of e-mail peculiarities is shortness, being fast in expression, which is completely opposite to letter writing style. Therefore, there are e-mail “messages”, not “letters”. The word itself implies shortness. However, it is not always so. The length differs according to several factors, e.g. time of the day (night messages are longer, as there is more time to think, no immediate answer is expected, and more romantic mood), and frequency of communication (daily and more frequent messages are shorter).

These peculiarities serve as “markers of experience and belonging, metaphor for poetic expression, and resources for play and challenge within a community.” Since the identity of the e-mail writer is often vague, they can play whatever. They choose to stress their experience and knowledge of conventions in e-mail usage and their belonging to cyber-communities using the below described peculiarities.

2.1. Sentence structure

2.1.1. Statements

? Ellipsis

Ellipsis is very typical for e-mails. This is because e-mail is close to speech, where we often leave sentences unfinished or omit words. It is closer to the way we think. Shortness is another reason. Since it is interactive communication, one word is often enough for a logical unit. Besides, in the “reply” mode, context can be attached without typing it again. This is not possible in traditional letter writing, where context must be entirely created in every letter. Thus, “sorry. still am. and again. must be an awful staff to read.” is a completed message. Very often pronouns are omitted, especially in the beginning of the sentence, in order not to repeat them, “I got so carried away with your stupid “trauki” that I missed the *censored*ing buss 22 to the airport. was late for 5 minutes – isn’t it a shame?” or “Gee, we had a cool party on Friday night. Boosed up nearly for free – were at a casino.” Because of ellipsis, dots are one of the most common punctuation mark. They indicate thoughtful pauses, “well, … I guess love is what we belive in…”

? Image creation by sentence structure

E-mails are very emotional, and play with intonation by choosing sentence structure. E.g., a writer who calls himself `spandex` in a `love list` (group of e-mail friends discussing love) has developed serious and tragic image by using specific sentence pattern: sentences are short, and mainly start with the subject,

“i thought we had a perfect love. my wife and i. we would do everything together. – - – we were very happy i thought. never treated her bad, was always there for her. – - – i loved her with all my heart and soul. there is no guarantee that love will last forever. i found out the hard way. thank you spandex” Another e-mail writer creates a confusion image by abrupt elliptical set of sentences, “sorry about that… forgot… early morning… no coffee…”

? Introductory words

Since e-mail is interaction, a dialogue (while a usual letter is monologue mainly, though with other person involved passively), sentences often have introductory words, attracting attention or expressing an emotional view on the topic. This is a very common pattern. Introductory words are different, and may be classified according to their function:

a) Affirmative:

O`right, yes, ok, yeah, yah

“O`right, I wont argue”, “yes, Roman, I do understand” “ok, that was a comic relief” “yeah, I got the trash out and made your bed too”, “yah,,,,i`m a good fearing person”

b) Negative:

Nah, no, c’mon, hah, heh

“nah, forgetit it”, “NO, grrrrrr… not via internet, why…”, “c`mon, ppl, you don`t know what it is to love someone” “Hah, I am stupid”, “Heh, actually they can stink in dream if you want them to”

c) Attracting attention:

Hooo, now, ah, hey, gee, oh

“Hooo, sorry for being a philosopher”, “Now, this is an amazing response to this issue”, “Ah, I only wish I could mess around with compskis back at UKC”, “Hey… you are a guy… and you are talking”, “Gee, we had a cool party on Friday night.”, “oh, I helped one friend.”

d) Other

Shit, well, so, wow, ohh, haha

“*censored*, it really is Friday today“, “well, now I am spoiling my reputation of the tough guy – - -”, “so I online and type you a short email”, “wow, wow, wow, hold yr horses”, “ohh, you want me to share your fly so much?”, “haha, topic is… love”

2.1.2. Questions

Though most of the questions in the messages analysed have been formed in traditional way, several peculiarities were found.

? Statement-type questions

Some questions do not have the traditional (auxiliary) form, “she thinks you have cybersex?” Only the punctuation mark indicates that it is a question. Or, “Oh, you really washed dishes?”

? Tag questions

Close to statement-type questions are tag questions, which are not really the ones we are used to in the traditional English grammar. “ok”, “hugh”, and other short connotative words are used as tags, e.g., “I`ll write bout my trip tomorrow, ok?”, “still working your ass off, hugh?”, or “we gotta set an exact time to get in there allav us, huh?”. Tags are used in other languages as well, “muljkjiiga savstarpeeja apvainoshanaas bija no riita, vai ne?”, “cikos ieiet, nu piezvaniishu pirms tam, ok?” “it must be Freitag in Deutschland auch, oder?”

? Elliptical questions

Just as in statements, ellipsis is characteristic of e-mail question. The shortest one in the messages being analysed is the question “u?” Though consisting of one letter, the sentence is fully comprehensible in context. There are questions without both subject and predicate, “Really going to Lithuania? To da Vilnius market?” Questions divided into two sentences may have a question mark in both parts, “is sandis still on the list? or you kicked him out because of his shameless free-thinking?;)))))))” or in the first part only, “would u ever b together? Like physically together…”

? Colloquialisms

Since there are very many colloquialisms in the messages, they appear in question formation as well. “ain`t that cool Arch?” is typical colloquial auxiliary use. “how come you are writing a msg?” is another low-style example.

2.2. Vocabulary

As Lee-Ellen Marvin describes computer-mediated communication, “The text that may be communicated – - – is limited, as it is in most Internet forms, to the range of characters on a typical computer keyboard: all lower and upper case letters of the Roman alphabet, numbers 0-9, and the symbols !@#$%^*()**{}[]+=.,;:`”~” (I would add &?|-_/and \ – author) “ Participants “write in a way which is most accurately described as “written speech”. (Elmer-Dewitt, 1994) An informal, everyday quality is created through the use of smileys, non-standard spelling reflective of vernacular pronunciation, punctuation to indicate pauses rather than speech clauses, special symbols borrowed from programming languages and an extensive special vocabulary.”

2.2.1. Symbols

One of such peculiarities is symbols. Besides letters, keyboard provides an opportunity to use symbols and punctuation marks, which is widely used. Specific combinations have gained semantic meaning and have come into active e-mail vocabulary. The most frequent one, recognised by most e-mail writers, is the smiley. Its forms vary a little with different authors, however the main symbols involved are the same: a colon or semicolon, brackets, dash, and/or the letter `o`. Number of brackets depends on how much emotion it is supposed to express. As Lee-Ellen Marvin says, “Many smileys, and the spelled out gestures of “smile” or “grin” (emotes) are appended to statements which are not ironic or ambiguous. They are friendly gestures, indications of approval or appreciation, much as smiles are often intended in face-to-face interaction. However, smiles in face-to-face contexts can be strategic or spontaneous and unintentional. In the context of MOO, whether expressed with the iconic Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usageor the symbolic “smile”, every smile must be consciously indicated.”

In private something flowing across the computer screen might cause a person to spontaneously smile, but a conscious choice must be made to type it out.

Smileys in the messages being analysed occur frequently. The forms are the following: `:)`, `;)`, `;o)`, `:)))`, `;)))))))))`, `,)`. `ooo ;(` – with a bracket in the other direction – is the opposite to smiley. Despite these rather free forms found in the messages, the popular computer mediated communication linguist Brenda Danet in her paper “Hmmm… Where`s that Smoke Coming from?” indicates very precise and distinct forms: `:-)` for a smile, `;-)` for a wink, and `:-(` for a frown.

In some cases, smiley expresses real laughing or smiling because of amusement, “hah, topic is….. love Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage)))”. In many places, smiley indicates that the sentence should not be perceived very seriously, “Have a cup of old green tea, and brake it Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage”, or “But don`t worry about the Bett thing, i`ll do it for you;))))))))))”. Sometimes it is added to express positive emotions, appreciation, or agreement, soothing, “Everyone is right for his/her own reality Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage”, or “thank you baiba Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage)”

Of other symbols, *g* (grin) and ^_^ (smile) are used in the messages concerned.

For an extensive list of symbols used in e-mail, published in the Russian newspaper “Subbota”, see Appendix A. The article is so explicit that the author of the paper did not dare to spoil it by translation into English.

2.2.2. Abbreviations and Acronyms

E-mail is the means of communication that is often chosen because of its speed. Opposite to traditional letter style, messages are short and fast-typed. Therefore, abbreviations and acronyms are usual characteristics of e-mail language. Even ‘message’ itself is most often abbreviated and spelled `msg`.

Some of them are common ones, though besides e-mails they are more often used in documentation for shortness and space saving, not in letters, “u better tell us what u did in LT”. Wherever possible, message senders try to use some easy recognisable abbreviations or acronyms, e.g. for the days of the week, “I`ll send it sat or sun when my brother will come home”. Often common acronyms are adopted by changing caps to lowcase and/or introducing new punctuation, “ps: the birthday was perfect!” or “p/s: Jocelyn sends her regrad to you!”.

Another group is invented acronyms and abreviations, knowing that the reader would recognise resemblance with the word it represents. Some of these are inventions of the author that stay as a peculiarity of one specific mail or author, others get into more common use, “I really didn`t like reading it b/c it broke my heart”, “i`ll get your addy from Girt”, or “I have met many ppl on irc since I started”. `bf` appears in one message only, in “I only had feelings for my bf”, however it does not raise any questions since context makes it clear.

Hackerish slang has an extremely long list of abbreviations and acronyms, however, messages sent and read by others than computer specialists would contain only a small part of these. ‘btw’ (by the way) and `asap` (as soon as possible) are used even in formal business mails. These expressions seem to be never spelled in their full form, “btw: when did you wake up?”.

Acronyms like `lol` (laughing out loudly) or `rofl` (rolling on the floor laughing) come from simultaneous computer mediated communication, i.e., chat rooms. More and more acronyms of this kind are coming into e-mail messages. For an extensive list of acronyms used in chat rooms see Appendix B.

Since e-mail users mostly are people who use computers often and for different purposes, not only e-mailing, many of abbreviations and acronyms used regard the computer world, “I did meet one girl from Croatia via ICQ” or “I have boyfriend, therefor I cant act like your irc girlfriend”. The last example also indicates that acronyms are an integrated part of e-mail vocabulary and can be used as any part of speech.

Love for wordplay appears also in this field. Look how two boys play with the popular acronym `irl` (in real life – as opposite to virtual computer world):

A: tad jau gribeeja akal kauko organizeet irl

B: i real time. irt

A: nea in real lyf

B: irlat. in real life and time

A: navlat

B: haha, kas tas?

2.2.3. Emotes

Emotes are another group of specific e-mail vocabulary. These come from chats as well and serve the purpose of making the written dialogue oral communication-like. Like in real communication the speaker or listener would smile, grin, sigh, or wave, they do the same in e-mail messages by inserting theses words either accented by emphasising brackets – *emote* – or without. Most often it is an emotional reply to something the other person has written, “sigh… anyway… thanks for the URL that you sent to me” or an attitude towards one`s own text, “well.. stiil got chemistry to go… sigh”. Converting emotes to action words, the writer plays out farewell episode, “*smile* *hug* and *kiss in check*”. These words are very distinct, and do not vary in messages.

2.2.4. Spoken Inarticulations

In traditional letters, one thinks about the text before they write. In real oral dialogues, as well as in computer mediated communication, these processes often take place simultaneously. Therefor e-mail messages are full of spoken inarticulations, which one most probably will not find in snail mail letters. One message of the ones analysed consists only of these, “wow umm yeah wow”. Laughing appears rather often, “hahhaa.. arii emails Peculiarities And Gender Differences In Language Usage”. “Sounds” are different, and indicate thinking pauses or emotions, “No, grrrrrr… not via interet, why….”, “whoa, time frikkin out”, or “aaaa. tad jau gribeeja akal kauko organizeet”. Hackerish slang site suggests that this shows up with increasing frequency of spoken inarticulations in comic strips.

2.2.5. Word Formation

Conversion is the most productive means of word formation in e-mails. Actually, there are no rules: any noun can be verbed, any verb can be nouned etc. Converted words stay as individual peculiarity as well as come into common e-mail vocabulary. Nouns become verbs, “you will headache”, adjectives become verbs, “didn`t online for this morning”, adverbs become verbs, “childish will away from us”, exclamations become nouns, “big whoopee”, or adjectives, “it`s so wow”. Language is so freely used in messages that the distinction between the parts of speech has become very relative. This comes also into formal business mails. It is common to write, “I will DHL it to you”.

Other popular means of word formation is free compounding, either hyphened, “Mr. Henrik Don`t-know-whatta-hell-email-is“, “take a look-see” or not, “nemaproblema”. The borderline between languages is loose, and borrowings become another rich source of vocabulary, “hangupoja”. Hackers like changing the existing words, like “luverly”. Shortening is very popular. ‘Pic` often stands for `picture`, “i may send u a pic next time”, and `prolly` for `probably`, “u would prolly never stand me for five minutes”.

2.3. Spelling and Punctuation

While the traditional letters are usually much concerned about correct literary spelling and punctuation, e-mail writers break the rules both on purpose and unintentionally.

2.3.1. Spelling

Some of “incorrect” spellings are conventional within computer mediated communication, especially the ones representing informal American English: `bout`, `y`all`, `cause` or even `coz` or `becuz`, `tho`, `dunno`, or `gonna`. Therefore these appear in almost every message, e.g., “I was ready to cry, coz it was like a knife in my heart” or “Forget about those stories, real life is much better tho:))))”.

A sign of informality is contracted forms, which are also conventional within e-mails. Besides contracted forms like `won’t` or `don’t`, used in any informal writing, e-mail users have invented some more. In the messages concerned new inventions are `y`day` and `t`day`. In order to save time and avoid characters that are not essential for understanding, traditional contracted forms are often spelled without an apostrophe, “I wont argue”, “isnt it a shame”, or “the wages aint bad”.

Replacement of the final `g` in `–ing` forms with an apostrophe was started in comic strips. It occurs also in e-mail messages, “probably because you are diggin` in to some porno site again”. However, many e-mail writers have gone further than this, and have omitted `g` without any replacement, “time frikkin out` or “cause I see everyone bitchin”.

Necessity to use as few characters as possible first created the spelling used in chat rooms. They invented the one-letter word spelling, and this came into e-mails. Thus, a typical example is “why r u single?” or the ending phrase “cu”. Though all the readers understand this spelling, not all of them use it. This is also true with figure usage – it takes only one character and can be used instead of sound-like words, “4 example”, “u r 2 deep in it”. Whenever there is a necessity to express order or amount, e-mail users tend to choose figure characters rather than letters, “r we talking about the 1st time here?”. This spelling appears also in another field: advertisements, since they need shortness in character amount there as well.

Besides numbers, another character loved by e-mail users is the letter `x`. This also saves time and space. They use `pix` instead of `pictures` or `pics` or `thanx` instead of `thank you` or `thanks`, e.g., “thanx for your honesty”. In Latvian, it is almost a convention, “man sefs teica, ka 25Ls par mobilo maxaashot”.

Letter repetition is often used for the purpose of stressing: it represents prolonged pronunciation of the word, “so i am veeeeery hungry”.

Incorrect spacing is another peculiarity of computer mediated communication. However, the difference between hacker slang and e-mails by non-professional users is that the mistakes of the latter seem to be unintentional, “idon`t want him t oknow”.

Much of other non-traditional spelling in e-mail messages is unintentional. Messages are typed fast, seldom re-read, besides they are written by people who do not care much about rules. Sometimes, they do not know how the word should be spelled or just mistype it. One e-mail writer, tired of unintentional spelling mistakes in his partner`s mail, writes, “fo couser I got waht u wroet”.

In both spelling and punctuation, precision of expression is more important than conformance to traditional rules; where the latter fail to provide information it can be discarded without a second thought. Capitalisation is a perfect example of this. In e-mails, it has lost its primary meaning of indicating proper nouns and beginning of a sentence. There is a tendency to write all lowercase, “i guess i`ve heard about a girl named laura but who`s david?”. Text in caps is interpreted as loud or overemphasised. As the hacker Jargon File indicates, “a person who goes to caps-lock may be asked to “stop shouting, please, you`re hurting my ears” . The intonation is revealed by capitalisation in the following sentence, “OH MY GOD, i left my baby in a bus”. Angry, an e-mail writer switches to caps as he would raise his voice in real oral conversation, “HEY, KID, WHAT IS THAT FUCKING LANGUAGE U R USING???!!!”

2.3.2. Punctuation

In a manner which parallels spelling in computer mediated communication, e-mail writer s use punctuation marks unconventionally. Sentences are often ended without periods, and commas are positioned to indicate pauses rather than clauses.

Number of repeated punctuation marks is not restricted. If the pause is meant to be longer, the line of dots is longer. Maximum of dots in the messages concerned is 15, where the e-mail writer suggests a pause after the introductory sentence, “Hellllllllllllo, meine liebe liebende……………” Number of question marks reaches 70. This would not be so easy in a traditional letter, since one would have to draw every question mark and then – why 70? In e-mails, one just presses a bottom until the line seems long enough. A single question mark may form the whole message. It would mean, “why don`t you write?” If the question is rhetoric and the e-mail writer does not expect any answer, they may put no question mark at all because it would not be functional, “Do you believe that the world was created by God.”

Since it is easy to separate sentences by pressing *enter*, there is no need for punctuation marks in short sentences which form a paragraph each, e.i., are not united in theme. They are easily comprehensible just the way they are. For example, there is one message that contains no punctuation marks at all,

“HI

don`t worry if i reply late

i don`t have time right now because it`s my brother`s birthday

he`s getting 18

that`s an important age for us as u legally become an adult

i may send u a pic next time

bye”

This no-caps no-punctuation writing is laconic, rhythmical and keeps attention.

It is common to use bracketing with unusual characters to signify emphasis. The asterisk is most common, even though this interferes with the common use of the asterisk suffix as a footnote mark. The Jargon File suggests that “There is semantic difference between *emphasis like this* (which emphasizes the phrase as a whole) and *emphasis* *like* *this* (which suggests the writer speking very slowly and distinctly, as if to a very young child or a mentally impaired person). Bracketing a word with the `*` character may also indicate that the writer wishes readers to consider that an action is taking place or that a sound is being made. Examples: *bang*, *hic*, *ring*, *grin*, *kick*, *stomp*, *mumble*.” In the messages concerned, the emphasising asterisk bracketing is not a seldom occurrence. “Or else, there is no reason of why do we want something like as *own* Scorpion or *your* good GIF,” someone writes. One e-mail writer emphasises his question using all possible means, including repeated asterisks, “* ****WHAT`S THE MEANING OF THIS DAMN WORLD?????* *** *”.

3. GENDER DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE USAGE IN INFORMAL E-MAIL MESSAGES

Victor Savicki in his article “Gender Language Style and Group Composition in Internet Discussion Groups” investigates peculiarities of language usage according to e-mail writer’s gender in Internet discussion groups, i.e., chat rooms. He analysis 2692 messages and concludes, “Results were mixed in regard to the relation of language patterns and group gender composition.” His hypothesis were, “The larger the proportion of men in discussion groups the more the members will use language that a) states facts without personal ownership, b) challenges group members, c) calls for explicit action, d) is argumentative, e) uses four-letter and abusive language, and f) indicates the member status. The larger the proportion of women, the more the members will use language that a) self-discloses, b) states personal ownership of opinion, c) apologizes, d) asks questions, e) uses “we” pronouns, f) responds directly to others in the group, and g) seeks to prevent or alleviate tension or arguments.” This seemed rather reasonable, however, after the analysis only few of the expectations proved to be right. Men use more impersonal, fact oriented language and more call for action.

This research raises several questions:

1. Could gender differences be more distinct in e-mails, since there is less direct simultaneous interaction?

2. Do the described language peculiarities differ according to genders?

Of course, the messages selected do not make a satisfactory representation to conclude a clear reliable answer to these questions. However, it might give some preview for deeper analysis.

10 e-mail writers whose sex is clear were selected for gender comparison: 5 males and 5 females. The most characteristic peculiarities of their language use were found and indicated in the following table:

Use of language peculiarities according to gender

Name (nick) Four-letter words Emotes, action words Punctua-tion pecu-liarities Extensive smiley usage Abbrevia-tions and acronyms Spoken inarticula-tions Intentional spelling peculiarities All lowercase Typing mistakes

Romans x x x x x

Spandex x

Henrik x x x

Sandis x x x x x

Archie x x x

Males total 3 1 0 2 3 2 1 2 3

Baiba x x x x

Laura x x x

Lori x

Dorothy x x x x

Karen x x x x x

Females tot. 0 1 3 2 4 2 2 3 0

The table shows that there are almost no gender differences.

However, a deeper study might show some results about the peculiarities, in the columns of which “0” appears. The hypothesis might be:

? Four-letter words are used more by male than female writers

? Females ignore punctuation rules more often then males do

? Males make more unintentional spelling mistakes

Victor Savicki as one of the reasons why the differences are not so distinct indicates, “groups composed of all men or all women will represent extreme positions on several gender related variables, while mixed groups of both men and women will fall between the extremes.” This might be the case with e-mails as well. The messages analysed were mostly of a mixed character – a male writing to a female/ a group including a female or vice versa.

4. CONCLUSIONS

? There are specific peculiarities in language usage in e-mails which differ from the traditional letter-writing

? E-mail messages could most precisely be characterised by the term “written speech”

? Main source of these peculiarities is hackish slang, supplemented by inventions of creative e-mail writers

? Main reasons for usage of these peculiarities is a wish to prove experience, belonging to cyber-communities, and play and challenge within a community

? As to sentence structure, ellipsis, image creation, and introductory words are characteristic of e-mail statements

? Statement form, tags, ellipsis, and colloquialisms characterise e-mail questions

? Range of keyboard characters limit/ extend the vocabulary of e-mail

? Symbols (in particular the smiley), extensive usage of abbreviations and acronyms, emotes, and spoken articulations are the peculiar vocabulary of e-mail messages

? E-mail writers play with language, freely forming new words, mainly using conversion, compounding, and borrowing

? Spelling and punctuation in e-mail messages is simplified and function-oriented

? There are no obvious gender differences in usage of e-mail language peculiarities. However, the following hypothesis could be investigated:

o Four-letter words are used more by male than female writers

o Females ignore punctuation rules more often than males do

o Males make more unintentional spelling mistakes

5. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berthold Michael. Clustering on the Net: Applying an autoassociated neural network to computer mediated discussions. http://jmcm.huji.ac.il/vol2/issue4/berthold.html

Brenda Danet. Hmmm… Where`s that Smoke Coming from?”.

http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol2/ issue4/danet.html

Lee-Ellen Marvin. Spoof, Spam, Lurk and Lag: the Aesthetics of Text-based Virtual Realities. http://jcmc.huji.ac.il/vol1/issue2/marvin.html

Rogers, E.M. and Rafaeli, S. Computers and Cummunication. In Information and Behaviour, Vol. 1, 1985, ed. B.D.Ruben, 135-155. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Savicki Victor. Gender Language Style and Group Composition in Internet Discussion Groups. http://jcmc.huji.ac.il/vol2/issue3/savicki/html

Tannen, D. Gender Gap in Cyberspace. In Newsweek, May 16, 1994, 54.

The on-line hacker Jargon File, version 2.9.10, 01 JUL 1992”, [pg/etext92/jargn10. txt]

Bibliography

Berthold Michael. Clustering on the Net: Applying an autoassociated neural network to computer mediated discussions. http://jmcm.huji.ac.il/vol2/issue4/berthold.html

Brenda Danet. Hmmm… Where`s that Smoke Coming from?”.

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