Language, writing, and social (inter)action: An analysis of text-based chats in Macedonian and English

Mira Bekar, Purdue University


The purpose of this study is to investigate the text-based chatting practices of a particular community of native Macedonian speakers who chat both in Macedonian and in English (as their foreign language). Much research in computer-mediated communication (CMC) over the last decade has been done in English as L1. Some of the few studies which explored CMC cross-linguistically include the comparison of French vs. English (Werry, 1996), Japanese vs. English (Nishimura, 2003b), Spanish vs. English (del-Teso-Craviotto, 2006), Serbian vs. English (Radic, 2007) and Turkish vs. English (Savas, 2010). In these studies, a number of different language features (e.g., orthography, code switching) and functions (e.g., representation of gender) common to TBC have been analyzed, but none has explored in-depth the use of language as social action in online text-based interactions. Data collected from surveys, text-based chats, and interviews were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using methods and concepts borrowed from discourse analysis, conversation analysis, systemic functional linguistics and communication accommodation theory. Seventy text-based chats in Macedonian and English from seven native Macedonian speakers, who form an intact group, were collected over a period of four months. By investigating linguistic elements, extralinguistic phenomena (e.g., emoticons, typographic forms such as LOL), and contextual phenomena (e.g., appraisal, limitations of the medium) in the text-based chats of my participants, and by conducting follow-up text-based interviews regarding their individual chatting practices, this study has explored how all these phenomena are used for performing social action in two languages. Text-based chat was also found to be a convenient medium for participants to co-position in various ways while carefully accommodating to various contextual factors.




Atkinson, Purdue University.

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