Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 11 November 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Computer-mediated Communication in a Bilingual Chatroom

Anitha Devi Pillai, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate


Tremendous improvements in the IT industry have played a pivotal role in aiding globalization and communication. As a result, communication has become more assessable and rapid with the presence of e-mails, online chat rooms and internet conferencing.

One phenomenon that arose from this development was the indiscriminate subscription to on-line chat rooms by all users all over the world. A new era has been created; one of a virtual community. This study will focus on a bilingual virtual speech community.

The aim of this paper is to examine the register of conversations that characterize the English language in a Malayalam-English bilingual computer-mediated conversation (CMC). CMC is a form of interactive discourse that resembles a unique form of 'written dialogue'. For the purpose of this study, the term CMCs will be used interchangeably with chatroom conversations.

Background to Study

This form of conversation is a form of synchronous conversation generally between strangers. Interlocutors are able to see their contribution almost immediately after they type them into the dialogue box. Depending on the number participants, many of these contributions are made at the same time by different interlocutors. They then have the option of engaging in a private chat with another person or to remain in the public forum.

Users on CMCs are crippled by their inability to see, hear or touch other interlocutors. Locke describes this phenomenon as on in which people 'go off-voice, off-face, off-eyes and off-body' (Locke, 2000:154). This deprivation generated the need for other linguistic cues such as punctuation and spelling to provide emotional support. It is hoped that an examination of the register of these conversations would shed more light on the functions of each linguistic strategy that is used.

Register in Chatroom Conversations

The relationship between speech and writing in the chatrooms were explored by Mar (2000) who concluded that there were no clear boundaries between speech and writing. CMCs also challenge assumptions about socialization. This study points out that the Internet is used by people of different walks of life for various purposes. As many bilingual speakers do use CMC, it is pertinent to examine the language used in these chatrooms to see if Mar's findings can be generalized. This study will examine also another important criterion in a bilingual chatroom, namely, the presence of code-switching, which is a feature that has not explored by other researches.

Interlocutors on CMCs exhibit a desire to negotiate the extent of closeness they desire in the conversation. Interlocutors generally found that CMCs were a more attractive option for people as it was less expensive, provided greater anonymity by camouflaging the identities of the interlocutors (Baron, 2000). At the same time, they communicated their desire for a face-to-face conversation by re-creating paralinguistic cues by constructing facial features (Werry, 1996).

Hence the tenor of chatroom conversations is personal and yet as it is largely a conversation between strangers, distant. Although both these studies did not examine the register of chatroom conversations, the findings have a bearing over the present study of tenor in CMC.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Attitude towards Mother Tongue - A Study of the Tribal Students of Orissa | Computer-mediated Communication in a Bilingual Chatroom | Compensation Strategies for Speaking English Adopted by Engineering Students of Tamil Nadu - A Study | Acquisition of English Intransitive Verbs by Urdu Speakers | Community, Culture and Curriculum in the Context of Tribal Education in Orissa, India | Auxiliary Verbs in Modern Tamil | Getting Around 'Offensive' Language | Noun Morphology in Kuki-Chin Languages | A Plea for the Use of Language Portals in Imparting Communication Skills | Advances in Machine Translation Systems | A Comparative Study of the Effect of Explicit-inductive and Explicit-deductive Grammar Instruction in EFL Contexts | Lexical Choice and Social Context in Shashi Deshpande's That Long Silence | The Voice of Servility and Dominance Expressed through Animal Imagery in Adiga's The White Tiger | Phonological Analysis of English Phonotactics of Syllable Initial and Final Consonant Clusters by Yemeni Speakers of English | Effective Use of Language in Communicating News through Political Emergency | Helping the Limited English Proficient Learner Learn the Second Language Effectively through Strategy Instruction | P.S. Sri's The Temple Elephant: A Bestiary with Socio-Political and Spiritual Message | Papers Presented in the All-India Conference on Multimedia Enhanced Language Teaching - MELT 2009 | A Phonological Study of the Variety of English Spoken by Oriya Speakers in Western Orissa - A Doctoral Dissertation | HOME PAGE of November 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Anitha Devi Pillai, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate
English Unit, Special Training Programme (MT)
National Institute of Education
1 Nanyang Walk
Singapore 637 616

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