Skip to main content
×
Home

Enregistering internet language

  • Lauren Squires (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This article investigates the enregisterment of an internet-specific language variety and its features. The enregisterment of internet language is explored through several sites of metadiscourse: academic scholarship about computer-mediated communication, uses of the metalinguistic terms netspeak and chatspeak in print media, and online comment threads about language and the internet. This metadiscourse provides evidence of a shared concept of internet language as comprising distinctive written features, primarily acronyms, abbreviations, and respellings. Internet language's enregisterment emerges from standard language ideology and deterministic views of technology, where the construal of these features as both nonstandard and internet-specific articulates the perceived distinctiveness of internet interactions. Yet empirical evidence shows that these features are relatively rare in instant messaging conversations, one form of interaction to which internet language is attributed; this discrepancy has implications for the application of indexical order to enregisterment. (Enregisterment, language ideology, computer-mediated communication, internet, metadiscourse, indexical order, Standard English, technological determinism, mass media)*

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Enregistering internet language
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Enregistering internet language
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Enregistering internet language
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Abernathy Betsy (2005). The languages of instant messaging. The Oak Ridger, June 2.
Agha Asif (2003). The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23:231–73.
Agha Asif (2005). Voice, footing, enregisterment. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15:3859.
Agha Asif (2007). Language and social relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Al-Sa'Di Rami A., & Hamdan Jihad M. (2005). “Synchronous online chat” English: Computer-mediated communication. World Englishes 24:409–24.
Androutsopoulos Jannis (2000). Non-standard spellings in media texts: The case of German fanzines. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4:514–33.
Androutsopoulos Jannis (2006a). Introduction: Sociolinguistics and computer-mediated communication. Journal of Sociolinguistics 10:419–38.
Androutsopoulos Jannis (ed.) (2006b). Sociolinguistics and computer-mediated communication. Theme issue of Journal of Sociolinguistics 10(4).
Bacon Ian (1993). Out on the internet; bridges; includes related articles on inexpensive internet tools, internet jargon, how to get access. MacUser, Volume 9, 209–14.
Bailey Richard W. (1991). Images of English: A cultural history of the language. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Baron Naomi S. (2000). Alphabet to email: How written English evolved and where it's heading. London: Routledge.
Baron Naomi S. (2002). Who sets e-mail style? Prescriptivism, coping strategies, and democratizing communication access. The Information Society 18:403–13.
Baron Naomi S. (2004). See you online: Gender issues in college student use of instant messaging. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 23:397423.
Beal Joan C. (2009). Enregisterment, commodification, and historical context: “Geordie” Versus “Sheffieldish.” American Speech 84:138–56.
Bedell Doug (1998). Hi! It's atlas—Life in the chat lane is anonymous, adventurous and now animated with 3-D alter egos. The Dallas Morning News, November 24, 1F.
Biber Douglas (1988). Variation across speech and writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bimber Bruce (1994). Three faces of technological determinism. In Marx Leo & Smith Merritt Roe (eds.), Does technology drive history? The dilemma of technological determinism, 79100. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Blashki Katherine, & Nichol Sophie (2005). Game geek's goss: Linguistic creativity in young males within an online university forum (94/\/\3 933k′5 9055oneone). Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society 3:7786.
Bonfiglio Thomas Paul (2002). Race and the rise of Standard American. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Boyd Robert S. (2005). ‘Netspeak’ is doing more good than harm to English. Ventura County Star, March 28, 4.
Brandon John (2008). Opinion: Fwiw—The origins of ’net shorthand. Computerworld. Online: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9118481/Opinion_FWIW_The_origins_of_Net_shorthand?taxonomyId=16&pageNumber=1&taxonomyName=Networking%20and%20Internet, accessed August 14, 2009.
Bucholtz Mary (2001). The whiteness of nerds: Superstandard English and racial markedness. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 11:84100.
Cameron Deborah (1995). Verbal hygiene. London: Routledge.
Chafe Douglas, & Danielewicz Jane (1987). Properties of spoken and written language. In Horowitz Rosalind & Samuels S. Jay (eds.), Comprehending oral and written language, 83113. San Diego: Academic Press.
Chandler Daniel (1996). Shaping and being shaped: Engaging with media. Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine 3(2). Online: http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1996/feb/chandler.html.
Cobb Nathan (1996). Cyberspeak—It's greek to all but the webwise. The Boston Globe, August 7, D1.
Collot Milena, & Belmore Nancy (1996). Electronic language: A new variety of English. In Herring Susan C. (ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social, and cross-cultural perspectives, 1328. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Coupland Nikolas (2001). Dialect stylization and radio talk. Language in Society 30:345–75.
Crystal David (2006). Language and the internet. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Daft Richard L., & Lengel Robert H. (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science 32:554–71.
Dahlberg Lincoln (2004). Internet research tracings: Towards non-reductionist methodology. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 9. Online: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol9/issue3/dahlberg.html.
Dürscheid Christa (2004). Netsprache: ein neuer mythos. In Pittner Karin, Pittner Robert J., & Schütte Jan (eds.), Vorträge der bochumer linguistik-tage, 115–24. Munich: LINCOM Europa.
Elspaß Stephan (2002). Alter Wein und neue Schläuche? Briefe der Wende zum 20. Jahrhundert und Texte der neuen Medien: ein Vergleich. Osnabrücker Beiträge zur Sprachtheorie 64:731.
Fahey Tom (1994). Net.speak: The internet dictionary. Indianapolis, IN: Hayden Books.
Ferrara Kathleen; Brunner Hans; & Whittemore Greg (1991). Interactive written discourse as an emergent register. Written Communication 8:834.
Fisher Daniel (2000). Chatspeak. Forbes, September 11, P.066.b.
Fung Loretta, & Carter Ronald (2007). Cantonese e-discourse: A new hybrid variety of English. Multilingua 26:3566.
Gaffney James B. (1994). Online travelers brave new (health care) world. The Times-Picayune, September 25, 19.
Garner Bryan (2000). Review: Capturing netspeak, but not reining it in. The New York Times, March 9, 10.
Georgakopoulou Alexandra (2006). Postscript: Computer-mediated communication in sociolinguistics. Journal of Sociolinguistics 10:548–57.
Goebel Zane (2007). Enregisterment and appropriation in Javanese-Indonesian bilingual talk. Language in Society 34:511–31.
Hall Rebecca (2004). Code talkers. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 2, 12E.
Hård af Segerstad Ylva (2002). Use and adaptation of written language to the conditions of computer-mediated communication. Göteberg: Göteberg University dissertation.
Harmon Amy (1999). Netspeak seeps into public lexicon causing (frowns) and (grins). Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 23, D1.
Harris Krissy (1998). Dictionaries decode digital geek-speak. The Star-Ledger, March 16, 53.
Herring Susan C. (ed.) (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social, and cross-cultural perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Herring Susan C. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 4. Online: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol4/issue4/herring.html.
Herring Susan C. (2003). Media and language change: Introduction. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 4:117.
Herring Susan C. (2004). Slouching toward the ordinary: Current trends in computer-mediated communication. New Media & Society 6:2636.
Herring Susan C. (2007). A faceted classification scheme for computer-mediated discourse. Language@Internet 4. Online: http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2007/761.
Herring Susan C., & Zelenkauskaite Asta (2009). Symbolic capital in a virtual heterosexual market: Abbreviation and insertion in Italian iTV SMS. Written Communication 26:531.
Hogan Patrick (2006). AOL-speak is destroying language's beauty. Chicago Maroon. Online: http://web.archive.org/web/20070411220134/http://maroon.uchicago.edu/viewpoints/articles/2006/04/14/aolspeak_is_destroyi.php, accessed January 28, 2008.
Hutchby Ian (2001). Conversation and technology: From the telephone to the internet. Cambridge: Polity.
Iorio Josh (2007). The serious side of play: Language attitudes in an online role-playing game. Paper presented at Internet Research 8.0: Let's Play!, annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Irvine V., Judith T., & Gal Susan (2000). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Kroskrity Paul V. (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 3583. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.
Jaffe Alexandra (2000). Introduction: Non-standard orthography and non-standard speech. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4:497513.
Janda Richard (1985). Note-taking English as a simplified register. Discourse Processes 8:437–54.
Johnstone Barbara (2009). Pittsburghese shirts: Commodification and the enregisterment of an urban dialect. American Speech 84:157–75.
Johnstone Barbara; Andrus Jennifer; & Danielson Andrew E. (2006). Mobility, indexicality, and the enregisterment of “Pittsburghese.” Journal of English Linguistics 34:77104.
Johnstone Barbara , & Baumgardt Dan (2004). “Pittsburghese” online: Vernacular norming in conversation. American Speech 79:115–45.
Johnstone Barbara, & Kiesling Scott F. (2008). Indexicality and experience: Exploring the meanings of /aw/ monophthongization in Pittsburgh. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12:533.
Jones Graham M., & Schieffelin Bambi B. (2009). Enquoting voices, accomplishing talk: Uses of be + like in instant messaging. Language and Communication 29:77113.
Kiesler Sara; Siegel Jane; & McGuire Timothy W. (1984). Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist 39:1123–34.
Knight Ridder Newspapers (2002). Brief: How to interpret net speak. Amarillo Globe-News, September 20.
Ko Kwang-Kyu (1996). Structural characteristics of computer-mediated language: A comparative analysis of interchange discourse. Electronic Journal of Communication 6. Online: http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/006/3/006315.HTML.
Kolesnikova Mary (2008). Ignoring sentences is no LOL matter. The Times Union, May 19, A7.
Kornblum Janet (1999). Welcome words: You've got female. USA Today, December 21, 3D.
Kroskrity Paul V. (2000). Regimenting languages: Language ideological perspectives. In Kroskrity Paul V. (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 134. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.
Lee Carmen K.-M. (2007). Affordances and text-making practices in online instant messaging. Written Communication 24:223–49.
Lenhart Amanda; Arafeh Sousan; Smith Aaron; & Macgill Alexandra (2008). Writing, technology and teens. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Online: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Writing-Technology-and-Teens.aspx, accessed August 14, 2009.
Lerman Kristina (2007). Social networks and social information filtering on digg. Proceedings of International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Boulder, CO.
Ling Rich, & Baron Naomi S. (2007). Text messaging and IM: Linguistic comparison of American college data. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 26:291–98.
Lippi-Green Rosina (1997). English with an accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
Maes Nancy (2000). Type cast: How to screen the key players in the symbolic world of ‘chat speak’. Chicago Tribune, July 27, 5.
Maynor Natalie (1994). The language of electronic mail: Written speech? In Little Greta D. & Montgomery Michael (eds.), Centennial usage studies, 4854. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
McCarthy John C.; Wright Peter C.; & Monk Andrew F. (1996). Coherence in text-based electronic conferencing: Coupling text and context. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 11:267–77.
Mertz Elizabeth (1998). Linguistic ideology and praxis in U.S. law school classrooms. In Schieffelin Bambi B., Woolard Kathryn A., & Kroskrity Paul V. (eds.), Language ideologies: Practice and theory, 149–62. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Milroy James (2001). Language ideologies and the consequences of standardization. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5:530–55.
Milroy James, & Milroy Lesley (1999). Authority in language: Investigating Standard English. 3rd edn. New York: Routledge.
Milroy Lesley (2000). Britain and the United States: Two nations divided by the same language (and different language ideologies). Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 10:5689.
Montero-Fleta Begoña; Monesinos-López Anna; Pérez-Sabater Carmen; & Turney Ed (2009). Computer mediated communication and informalization of discourse: The influence of culture and subject matter. Journal of Pragmatics 41:770–79.
Mugglestone Lynda (1997). “Talking proper:” The rise of accent as social symbol. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Murray Denise E. (1989). When the medium determines turns: Turn-taking in computer conversation. In Coleman Hywel (ed.), Working with language: A multidisciplinary consideration of language use in work contexts, 319–37. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Okamoto Jennifer (1995). Cooking off the net: Curious cooks can summon a world of recipes via computer. The Dallas Morning News, February 22, 1F.
Paolillo John C. (2001). Language variation in Internet Relay Chat: A social network approach. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5:180213.
Paradis Tamara (2005). Fear and risk in the digital anomaly. Paper presented at Internet Research 6.0: Broadening the Band, annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Chicago, IL.
Parshall Gerald (1995). Buzzwords: The language that will shape our world in 1996. U.S. News & World Report, 119, 86, 88.
Preston Dennis (1996). Whaddayaknow: The modes of folk linguistic awareness. Language Awareness 5:4074.
Putzel Michael (1994). Roadblocks on highway: Getting on the internet can be a real trip. Boston Globe, July 22, 43.
Quan-Haase Anabel (2007). University students' local and distant social ties: Using and integrating modes of communication on campus. Information, Communication & Society 10:671–93.
Remlinger Kathryn (2009). Everyone up here: Enregisterment and identity in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. American Speech 84:118–37.
Rezabek Landra L., & Cochenour John J. (1998). Visual cues in computer-mediated communication: Supplementing text with emoticons. Journal of Visual Literacy 18:201–16.
Rice Ronald E., & Love Gail (1987). Electronic emotion: Socioemotional content in a computer-mediated communication network. Communication Research 14:85108.
Robinson Philip (1998). A quick course in personal web sites 101 or how to get started. St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 3, 3E.
Romalino Carly (2008). As technology makes communicating faster, language is quickly adapting to keep up. “Chat-speak,” an internet dialect that abbreviates words and phrases, has been growing and adding vocabulary like “brb” (be right back) and “lol” (laugh out loud). The Gloucester County Times, October 3.
Ross Nigel (2006). Writing in the information age. English Today 22:3945.
Ruane Michael E. (1999). An instant language, packed with meaning: Online chatters invent shorthand for fast talk. Washington Post, December 14, A1.
Sebba Mark (2007). Spelling and society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shiu Eulynn, & Lenhart Amanda (2004). How Americans use instant messaging. Washington, DC. Online: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2004/How-Americans-Use-Instant-Messaging.aspx.
Shortis Tim (2007). Revoicing txt: Spelling, vernacular orthography and ‘unregimented writing’. In Posteguillo Santiago, Esteve María José, & Gea-Valor M. Lluïsa (eds.), The texture of internet: Netlinguistics in progress, 223. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
Silverstein Michael (1979). Language structure and linguistic ideology. In Clyne Paul R., Hanks William F., & Hofbauer Carol L. (eds.), The elements: A parasession on linguistic units and levels, 193247. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
Silverstein Michael. (1996). Monoglot “Standard” In America: Standardization and metaphors of linguistic hegemony. In Brenneis Donald & Macaulay Ronald K. S. (eds.), The matrix of language: Contemporary linguistic anthropology, 284306. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Silverstein Michael. (2003). Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication 23:193229.
Skogsberg Rick (2000). Long live good grammar. The New York Times, March 23, 9, Column 3.
Smith Merritt Roe (1994). Technological determinism in American culture. In Marx Leo & Smith Merritt Roe (eds.), Does technology drive history? The dilemma of technological determinism, 136. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Spitulnik Debra (1997). The social circulation of media discourse and the mediation of communities. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 6:161–87.
Sproull Lee, & Kiesler Sara (1991). Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Squires Lauren (2003). College students in multimedia relationships: Choosing, using, and fusing communication technologies. American University TESOL Working Papers 2. Online: http://www1.american.edu/tesol/wpsquires.pdf.
Squires Lauren (2007). Whats the use of apostrophes? Gender difference and linguistic variation in instant messaging. American University TESOL Working Papers 4. Online: http://www1.american.edu/tesol/CMCSquiresFinal.pdf.
Su Hsi-Yao (2003). The multilingual and multi-orthographic Taiwan-based internet: Creative uses of writing systems on college-affiliated BBSs. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 9. Online: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol9/issue1/su.html.
Tagliamonte Sali A., & Denis Derek (2008). Linguistic ruin? LOL! Instant messaging and teen language. American Speech 83:334.
Tavosanis Mirko (2007). A causal classification of orthography errors in web texts. Proceedings of AND 2007, 99106.
Thurlow Crispin (2003). Generation txt? The sociolinguistics of young people's text-messaging. Discourse Analysis Online. Online: http://extra.shu.ac.uk/daol/articles/v1/n1/a3/thurlow2002003.html.
Thurlow Crispin (2006). From statistical panic to moral panic: The metadiscursive construction and popular exaggeration of new media language in the print media. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11. Online: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue3/thurlow.html.
Thurlow Crispin; Lengel Laura; & Tomic Alice (2004). Computer mediated communication: Social interaction and the internet. London: Sage.
Viotti Vicki (1999). Language on the web. USA Today, December 23, ARC.
Woog Dan (2000). The death of grammar. The New York Times, March 16, 10.
Woolard Kathryn (1998). Introduction: Language ideology as a field of inquiry. In Schieffelin Bambi B., Woolard Kathryn A., & Kroskrity Paul V. (eds.), Language ideologies: Practice and theory, 347. New York: Oxford University Press.
Yang Chunsheng (2007). Chinese internet language: A sociolinguistic analysis of adaptations of the Chinese writing system. Language@Internet 4. Online: http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2007/1142/index/html/.
Zitzen Michaela, & Stein Dieter (2004). Chat and conversation: A case of transmedial stability? Linguistics 42:9831021.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 183
Total number of PDF views: 1057 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1290 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 15th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.