Case Study 6 PhD thesis University of South Australia  Adelaide South Australia  THESIS COMPLETE .pdf

Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk PHD thesis by Dr. Terrell Neuage  University of South Australia National Library of Australia.

THESIShome ~ Abstract.html/pdf ~ Glossary.html/pdfIntroduction.html/pdf  ~ methodology.html/pdf  ~ literature review.html/pdfCase Study 1.html/pdf~ 2.html/pdf~ 3.html/pdf~  4.html/pdf~ 5.html/pdf~  6.html/pdf~  7.html/pdf~ discussion.html/pdf  ~ conclusion.html~ postscipt.html/pdf~ O*D*A*M.html/pdf~ Bibliography.html/pdf~  911~ thesis-complete.htm/~ Terrell Neuage Home Appendixes 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7 ~ DATA ~ Case Study 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7.  These links are from early notes and not the final edits which are in the published version available at the University of South Australia only. Not all links are active due to changing domains. Home page see http://neuage.co

 

9918 words Tuesday, 26 August 2003

Case Study 6

CS 6.0 Introduction

Dialogue can be studied through its grammar (as I  do  in Case Study Seven) and through examining its preferred discursive patterns (Eggins & Slade; 1997: p.178) as I showed in Case Study Five Grammar provides the “nodes” of speech; in the case of dialogue, the constituent “mood” structures of conversational clauses. In physical, live- interacting conversation, linguistics provides a system for analysing the assertion of rights and privileges stemming from the inequitable social roles in culture (see Bourdieu, 1989).  Words very much define the speaker, and provide both him/her and the co-locuters with a settled repertoire of what can and can’t be said, and how it can and can’t be cast.  However, in electronic “talk” words do not so immediately define social roles.  First, they must define ideas, or at least a continuum of speech practice, which can evolve into a conversation, as participants begin to “read” the cues for social positioning. This processing will, over a course of many turn-taking sequences, define enough about a speaker to allow others to have some awareness of their places within social structures: elements such as their social or cultural beliefs, and sometimes nationality, culture and standing.  I have explored this notion of trying to ”know” more about a speaker from the words they use in individual case studies, suggesting that the relative lack of socio-cultural cues in chat is being compensated by the semiotic loading of abbreviation and emoticon-graphic codings. In this section I want to examine what can be learned from how the “turn-taking” rules are operated within an on-line conversation. Do the same regulatory systems apply as those found in live conversation, or are there once again restrictions, and compensations?

 Text-based chatrooms at first sight appear to offer an open, empty space. However, within previous sections of analysis of chat practice, I have been able to demonstrate that this is not quite the case. For chat-entrants such as B-witched in Case Study Five, the chat space was not at all “open”. For all his/her persistence, this chatter was “closed out” by other participants. And, as I have indicated earlier, it is true for chat as for all linguistic performances, that no participant enters an “empty” system. Chatrooms depend not only on language conventions drawn from broader speech communities and communities of practice, but have rapidly established their own complex codes of both locution and interactive behaviours. And finally, the technology of chat hardware and software: the screen and keyboard and modem speeds, and the limitations of the dialogue-box and line structure, all act upon “chat” as a communicative act.

Within conversation turn-taking is central.  Without turn-taking, the chatroom is static. But does the system of turn-taking within chat follow that of non-electronic conversation, which in this thesis I refer to as ”natural conversation”, or do the constraints of the chat space act upon this, as upon other areas of this particular communicative practice? In the case studies thus far it has been shown that electronic conversation is dependent on the vehicle for the speech – the computer. Conversational analysis or sequential analysis to date has involved   noting ”natural” conversation and understanding such conversations as regulated, to provide an orderly sequence of entrance spaces for participating members. A chatroom too is thoroughly bound by orderliness, with its protocols, rules and structure. It is only within this order that sequential conversation can be carried on. 

Electronic communication has received much analytical research. In my literature review in the section on online literature most of the material reviewed brings a sociological or psychological perspective to electronic chat. Meaning development in chatrooms can be shown to be dependent upon conceptualisation, as well as upon social formation  (see Tannen, 1998, 1995; Turkle, 1995, 1996) What I have done in this case however is to go beyond the ”why” we communicate, into ”how” we exchange utterances.  In this case I am using the most systematic and “fined tuned” of the linguistic investigation techniques, Conversational Analysis, within the Sacks tradition. Conversational analysis focuses on the sequential organization of talk, and the overlaps in various places in the transcript, focusing in particular on how participants contest and maintain “powerful” speaking positions, which enable them to lead and steer conversations (ten Have, 1999).

CS 6.0.1 Sacks

Conversational analysis (CA) is an outcome of an ethnomethodological tradition of social inquiry. Ethnomethodology is a sociological perspective, founded by the American sociologist Harold Garfinkel in the early 1960s, to explain and understand meaning systems and procedures between people and how they make sense of their social world. CA was developed collaboratively by Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson to study ordinary conversation to discover if organizational details could be formally described. The idea is that conversations are orderly, not only for observing analysts, but in the first place for participating members (Schegloff & Sacks, 1973: 290; Sacks, 1984a: 22). The field of CA is primarily concerned with finding the organization of social action located in discursive practices in everyday interaction. The first analysis came from detailed inspection of tape recordings and transcriptions made from such recordings.

I started to work with tape-recorded conversations.  Such materials had a single virtue, that I could replay them. . . . I could study it again and again, and also, consequentially, because others could look at what I had studied and make of it what they could, if, for example, they wanted to  to disagree with me (Sacks, 1974, p. 715).

Due to most tape recordings being accomplished with the knowing of the participants they may not be as free as natural conversation would be without the presence of a recording device. Chatrooms provide an enthnomethodological object  in which the researcher is able to lurk without the participants knowing.

The researcher is on exactly the same epistemological grounds as the room’s other members. The researcher is looking at the screen, just as the others. All parties have exactly the same information, and all receive it simultaneously.  If the researcher were to be able to record the chat room from the physical perspectives of all the room’s other members, he or she would gather no data that could not be gathered by recording some other computer screen somewhere else in the world.  In this way the study of chat rooms avoids the epistemological difficulties that may arise in studying FTF interactions      (Parrish, 2000).

CS 6.0.2 Case Study chatroom

This case study is on a site dedicated to discussion of Web 3D graphics. It is a highly developed and supervised site, with its own help files, as well as clearly defined rules and assistance and a ‘Quick reference guide’. The headline for the chatroom states:

“Come and chat about Web3D and VRML and all things 3D, every Wednesday at 9:30PM Eastern, (Eastern is UTC-5) which is 2:30 UTC time (Thursday)”.[1]

Because this is a topic specific site, on the development and/or use of computer graphics, the purpose of the moderator in this chatroom is more one of leadership,  than of keeping users from either going into other topics or abusing others.[2] To this extent, the site is inviting a use closer to that of the listserv, or of the older BBS services, in which professionals with a given interest met regularly for the purposes of common-interest debate and information exchange. The booking of a common “meeting” time on this site suggests serious purpose, rather than the more spontaneous development of conversation with strangers, expected in a non-topic-defined chatroom. For this reason, I anticipate a more overt and analysable display of “regulated” conversational exchange.

CS 6.0.3 Questions

A question that I explore throughout this thesis is “Are non-moderated chatrooms closer to casual conversation than moderated chatrooms, where there may be a perception of censorship, and attempts to steer the talk?”

My second question asks whether having fewer participants in a chatroom makes for a better and easier to follow discourse. Unlike the other chatrooms that I have used so far which had more users present, Chat 3D only had eight participators (Appendix 6 table1). The chat logged for this study is available online[3] and permission to use this chat was obtained by the chatroom owner on November 13 2001[4].

My first question is also concerned with whether a moderated chatroom provides a setting for ‘natural’ chatting. At this time there are not any bots (Internet robots simulating Artificial Intelligence) that are able to reproduce the flow of ‘natural language’ (see Barr, Cohen, and Feigenbaum, 1989).  Natural language involves  the processing of written text or spoken language, using lexical, syntactic, and semantic knowledge of that  language, as well as any required  information  about phonology or scripts, as well as enough additional experience  to handle the further ambiguities that arise in communicative acts. .  The theories that are used to discuss the different case studies in this thesis are steps in the process of natural language understanding. To have a natural chat in a chatroom one might for instance  expect  to be required to produce “conversation”, such as that  in person-to-person conversation, that would include turn-taking, sentence structures, waiting for the completion of a sentence before responding to a previous speaker, and a continuation of the  topic. In this case study there is evidence of many of these features, such as for instance a continuity of topic. As this is a moderated chatroom, someone in fact keeps the speakers on the topic. Yet in  Case Study One the participators kept the chatroom on the topic of the storm, as they also do in Case Study Seven, when the topic is about baseball. How then can communication in a moderated chatroom be seen to differ from that in less spaces generally considered less regulated? Is it perhaps possible to see all chat as “moderated” – at least in the sense of conforming at some level to the requirements of natural conversational order?

My assumption before analysing this room had been that moderation equals censorship. Knowing someone will correct or change or even suppress what we wish to say could alter the forms used in chatting. After visiting many moderated chatrooms at Talkcity.com and at Microsoft’s chat server I realised for instance that few people are concerned with conventional spelling or grammar, even  in a moderated chatroom. (See the afghan chatroom example below). “Moderation” therefore does not appear to alter levels of formality, at least in so far as this relates to text conventions of “correct” usage. There is, however, quite clear concern about content, and whether it fits the room’s topic or themes.

In an unexpected way, content proves  important to maintaining turn taking in a moderated chatroom, as will be shown in the discussion below. Unmoderated chatrooms, as we have seen,  can spontaneously generate forms of moderation, if people in the chatroom attack or attempt to control others. In unmoderated chatsites the area of grammar and spelling is, curiously, one area where a participant can make an attack on another chatter – and yet I have not found an example of anyone in a moderated chatroom being concerned with spelling or grammar. I discuss grammar more formally in Case Study Seven.

In this case study when a new person arrives there is the usual chatroom greeting,  and shortly thereafter the other participators, along with a  new user, such as for instance <Pauline>, continue their conversation – in this case,  on web 3D animation. <Pauline> joins in at turn 51 and is immediately greeted by <web3dADM>, whom <Pauline> apparently knows, as <Pauline> says <hiya sandy> in response to the moderator of the chatroom, <web3dADM>. <Leonard> also greets <Pauline> and after one line of greeting there is once again the continuation of the topic, with <Pauline> in line 65 going straight to topic, saying <are there any add-ons compare vrml with x3d ??>.

51) <Pauline>  hello there....
52) < web3dADM> hey pauline!
53) <Pauline> hiya sandy ! how are things going ?
54) <Leonard> blaxxun and Shout have browsers based on their proposals, but no  ones proposals were adopted in totality
55) <Leonard> Hi Pauline
56)  <Pauline>  hi leonard !
57) <brian> what do u refer to when u say x3d then?
58) <brian> network lagged today!!
59) <Leonard> Think of X3D as redoing the infrastructure of VRML. It is not a change
60) <Leonard> in functionality, but a change in the language.
61) <brian> i thought it was a subset of vrml?
62) <web3dADM> x3d is VRML with an XML syntax
63) <Leonard> Of course, Core X3D is MUCH smaller than VRML - about ½ the nodes
64) <brian> to allow small client downloads
65) <pauline> are there any add-ons compare vrml with x3d ??

 

This sequence, with its strong topic focus,  is similar to the baseball chat in Case Study 7, where  there are 13 greetings with the other ‘captured’ 142 lines being on the topic of baseball. After the greeting there is the immediate continuation of the baseball topic. Also, in the baseball chat shown below, the majority of the greetings were from the speaker <NMMprod>. <NMMprod> has taken on the  role of  greeting people as they enter the chatroom. As this was not a moderated chatroom it is not the ‘official’ role of <NMMprod> to greet people. Voluntary operation within such a role – and the acceptance of that act from others – seems to indicate the refocus by most chat participants from the saturating greeting rituals and social framing work of open or non-topic directed chatrooms, to the topic focus of specialist rooms and moderated expert communities.

36.  / /\ <NMMprod> 2e. hellotrix
37.  / /\ <CathyTrix-guest> 6c. hiya
47.  / /\ <MLB-LADY> 3f. h cathy
50.  / /\ <NMMprod> 2g. hey trix
75.  / /\ <NMMprod> 2k. hellotrix
82.  / /\ <<NMMprod> 2m. Hi Molly!
90.  / /\ <Chris_Pooh> 10b. Hey Mike
115. / /\   <Chris_Pooh> 10c. Howdy MLB
119. / /\   <Chris_Pooh> 10d. Cathy? you new here
125.  / /\ <MLB-LADY> 3j. howdy pizza man
127.  / /\ <MLB-LADY> 3k. hi chris
141. / /\   <KnobbyChic-11> 11a. Chris!!!!!
147. / /\ <Neeca-Neeca> 13a. hey Chris!

 

In the chat3D chatroom the moderator <web3dADM> continues greetings and small-talk until turn 10, even indicating an off-line or at least out-of-room engagement with the work of the chat community:

10) <web3dADM> just got the Cult3D folks to agree to show up on March 3

The remainder of the chat is concerned almost exclusively with the topic of discussion: three-dimensional software. Yet by beginning with small talk and greetings this chatroom is shown to be based in casual conversational ordering techniques, even though it is about a specific topic. The administrator,  <web3dADM> even states this policy of casualness to <Justin>:

4) <Justin>  my first visit here; what's normal?
8) <web3dADM> NORMAL ;-) I try not to be normal ;-) nothing formal justin unless there is a guest

 

In the non-topic specific chatroom in Case Study Five there was no  prior focus of  conversation. There  the participants concentrated on greetings and relational talk: elements which <web3daDM> emphasizes here, with his emoticons at least, as he cues Justin for entry to the group. But even in this mode, his posting is marked by relatively formal grammar and complete sentence structure – as well as by what amounts to metatetxtual reference, as <web3> reacts to <justin>’s expectations of “normal” behaviours, and queries the term with caps emphasis and emoticon mitigators. This move “beyond” formal language and into chat techniques is significant, given the shift it enacts in the discursive frame, from topic-orientation and expert discussion, to the “social framing” of the establishment of group “norms” in a chat space.

Other examples of such metatextual, self-aware comment on language use within chat tend to occur only at what Faircloiugh (1989) calls moments of “crisis” – instances when the talk relation is strained or broken. In the example below (see http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/chat/afgan.htm) there are personal attacks enacted through issues of  spelling. The unmoderated users here comment on each other’s spelling, using it as so often occurs in unmoderated chat, as part of the establishment of the “ground rules” for the chat: the constant readjustment of relational talk which dominates non-topic-specific talk, and bleeds over into topic-specific but unmoderated sites at moments of “crisis” in a given talk relation. .

[ZtingRay] what a dumb ass

[fRANKIE] excuse me i meant to say butch bitch

[ZtingRay] cant spell

[ZtingRay] butch

[fRANKIE] asshole ztingray (who can't spell himself

 

Here an abusive exchange focuses around the capacity to wordplay across terms, simply through orthographic shifts – or even by implying that they should occur – as in the critique of <ztingray> with a “z” instead of an “s”. With little else available for building critique, the textual elements alone are made to serve. Even on the “expert discussion” site, where a consensual community is already in place around a topic, there are occasional moments of rupture and repair around spelling:

1) <Leonard> Sort night for me tonight... Gotta take my oldest to scouts
2) <web3dADM> sort night? ahhhh
6) <Leonard>  Sort == new term for Short

 

 Two very different types of chatrooms, saved side-by-side at http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/bondage_christian.htm, show that topics or  themes may be as important as the actual conversation in a chatroom, in controlling the forms of talk. Not merely the topic, but the formality of exchanges varies between these two spaces:

<Tape>: true,but would like to see what the nipples look like under latex

<MrMikl>: as long as dag is tied to a spoke?

 

<Cupid's Sister>

 Dolly.....Nowhere that's just how I am.....I prayed hard to God for my father to recover....but God took him and now my father is in heaven

<Ann>

 I'm singing that same tune Cupid's Sister. Still we have the love of Christ

Each of these exchanges achieves a marked consensual flow, but there is in the second a greater concern for grammatical exactness – including for instance the capitalisation convention for God and Christ – while in the first a much freer form of sentence structure is present. Coates (1998) has shown in many studies that such a distinction between formal and non-formal language use in natural conversation rests on an interesting intersection between class and gender – and here there is at least some suggestion that gender may be in play, with <Dolly> and <Ann> and <Cupid’s Sister> preserving the conversational niceties, as Coates suggests. But in earlier analyses we have seen (at least ostensibly) female participants using the abbreviation/emoticon formulae of chat which breech formal speech rules – see for instance <Jenniferv> in Case Study Five, above. I do not wish to embark here upon a gender based study of chat, which might, if Coates is correct, either enable expert analysts to detect gender in chat even when on-line gender disguise is in play, or perhaps even indicate that all participants already do such detection work, remaining alert to the subtleties of a gender regulated talk, learned from natural conversation. Instead, I am interested in whether the sorts of “ungrammatical” behaviours common in non-topic-specific chat, where the focus is on relational talk, are actually instead new forms of grammatical regulatory behaviour: the sorts of “anti-language” which I argued in Case Study 5 could be used for establishing and maintaining a specific “in-group” culture, against the broader mainstream behaviours of “intruders”.

CS 6.1 Methodology

I use a conversation analysis[5] (CA) approach in this chatroom as CA investigates the machinery and the structure of social action in language. The primary concern of conversation analysis is sequential organization, or the ways in which speakers organize their talk turn-by-turn (Neuliep, 1996).  Conversation Analysis (CA) grew out of the research tradition of ethnomethodology[6]. Ethnomethodology refers to understanding the meaning systems and procedures people use in doing what they do. Where Functionalists[7], Symbolic Interactionists[8] and Marxists  understand the social world as orderly instead of chaotic and haphazard, ethnomethodologists assume that social order is illusory  (much as it appears at first glance in chatrooms). The task in everyday life, as “we do what we do”, is thus to forge a means of ordering a particular task, to achieve common understandings among consensual groups  – even if temporary – which enable us to carry out daily life processes. Applied to language by ethnomethodologist Harvey Sacks, this totally empirical and descriptive approach allows for the minute examination of the exchanges of talk, and the emergence of regularly recurring and reciprocal patterns of practice, which then act as structuring rules for talk. The CA or Conversation Analysis which Sacks and his fellow investigators produced (see for instance the work of Sacks, 1972; in collaborations with Schegloff, 1974; and Jefferson, 1974) has outlined a number of ruling structures around which talk exchanges are constructed, and which can be used to assess how conversations are formed, as well as who among a group of talkers performs which roles, and why.

CA thus becomes a way of researching chatrooms as just such a (temporary)consensual group. This  may lead to an understanding of the way in which words are produced and meaning is ascribed in these new spaces for talk. There is the sense in the literature to date that social interaction based on the turn-taking conversation in a chatroom is a hit and miss affair - even chaotic (see for example, Reid, 1993 and Vronay, Smith, Drucker, 2001).  CA assists in the making sense of these otherwise seemingly random or perverse acts of speech acts.

Conversational analysis looks at who is "leading" in the conversation. Finding who is leading may appear impossible in an unmoderated text-based chatroom where turn-taking appears random and where, unless the chatroom has a specific time frame - for example the chatroom is open only for one-hour a day - there is a never ending conversation. Who is leading would change at any given time whilst the chatroom is open. CA however is able to “read” the relational ploys of speakers at any moment of a conversation, extending over any number of “turns”, from two to infinity – and is expert at detecting those moments when the conversational lead does indeed shift between participants. 

CA has studied the social organization of conversational turn taking in the past by a detailed inspection of transcriptions made from audio tape recordings. With the advent of computers to log text-based chat conversations one is able to inspect huge amounts of data.   

Chatrooms are thus a natural source for CA study of casual conversation.  There is even already in place the notion that online communication is nothing more than casual conversation, (Murphy, Collins, 1997) and open to what is termed sequential analysis. Criteria for Sequential Analysis include that conversational data must be directly observable - which in chatrooms it is - and  can be saved for future research. Next,  all principles and rules of how conversation is structured in terms of exchanges-in-sequence must be  developed inductively, based on observable data. An analysis of any particular conversational event when replicated by others should look essentially the same.

Because of the technologisation of chat, chatroom turn-taking at this point in time always looks the same; there is a username followed by the utterances. Some chatrooms have additions to this provision,  such as the ability by participants to change the font or colour of the chat text, or to include a sound, but  ultimately all postings all have an auto-sequential nature – they do not appear side by side on the computer screen, but  are followed one after another, line by line. Once the enter button is pressed there is no taking back what was said. If the chat can be saved, either by saving the screen shot of the chat, or by copying and pasting or reading the chat logs, the dialogue can be ‘captured’ for future reference.  What the technologisation does do however in CA terms is to prevent any analysis of the sorts of simultaneous talk occurring in such configurations as “overtalking”, or interruption. Because the “enter” button sends statements which log according to the speeds of modems and the packet-switching used in online transfer, CMC technology and not the reciprocal talk relations of chatters sets some of the turn-taking rules. Enough features remain evident however for CA to operate on chat data.

Conversational analysis is one of three central themes that are the focus of ethnomethodology, the other two being “mundane reasoning” or the structuring of logical order within everyday thinking, and “membership categorization”, or the ways we regulate social order through techniques of inclusion and exclusion. Sociologists typically examine talk or conversation as a resource to learn something of people's attitudes, the ways people's lives are structured, and how people differ from each other in their values and assumptions. The ethnomethodologist, on the other hand, treats chat as a topic to learn how members of a community (in this case the online chat community) use properties of talk (e.g.: its sequential properties) in order to do things with words, such as to have an interaction in a chatroom. I have chosen a CA research approach for this case study as CA literature investigates the structure of social action in language, which reveals how meaning is negotiated – and this is especially apporopriate to a topic-focused chatroom, intent on professional knowledge exchange. .

Conversational analysis first seeks to make an analysis of the data by studying the overall structure of interaction and sequence organization within casual conversation. Secondly, CA, investigates the dominant sequential patterns of speech. In CA, the data conventionally consists of audio-tape recordings of natural conversation, and their associated transcriptions. These are then systematically analyzed to determine what properties govern the way in which a conversation proceeds. The approach emphasizes the need for empirical, inductive work, and in this it is sometimes contrasted with 'discourse analysis', which has often been more concerned with formal methods of analysis, such as the nature of the rules governing the structure of texts (Eggins & Slade, 1997: p.56). My ‘capturing’ of "natural conversation" within chatrooms is through the saving of conversations into a word document, by-passing the need for transcription – although the many debates within CA on the interpretive colourings introduced by the selection of a transcription protocol (See Agar, 1983; Berelson, 1952; Moerman, 1988) are mimicked even in my cut-and-paste technique, by the varying ways the extracts used in subsequent analysis can be represented (see Chapter 3, methodology). 

CS 6.2 Discussion

My purpose in this case study then is to describe in detail the conversational relation displayed in topic-specific chat  by isolating and measuring its primary components. Conversation process is rich in a variety of small behavioural elements, which are readily recognised and recorded. These elements combine and recombine in certain well-ordered rhythms of action and expression. In the live two-person confrontation there results a more or less integrated web of communication, which is the foundation of all social relations (Guy & Allen p. 48-51). Chatrooms use many of these small behavioural elements, even evolving as we have seen new techniques such as emoticons, abbreviations and pre-recorded sounds provided by the chatroom, such as whistles, horns, or laughter. The full web of exchange however remains unmapped at this time .

What is important in CA is firstly the degree to which talk breaks into “turns” – sometimes reciprocally agreed, sometimes hotly contested among participants. Within chatroom conversation fragmented conversation is the norm. Rarely are full sentences made, although it is arguable that complete thoughts are.  But within the chatroom dialogue there can be a break in the utterance clearly established, because the ENTER key is pushed on the keyboard, even if part way through the utterance. For example, below…

197)     <Gordonthe funny thing is
198)     <brian>  sgi visual workstatio demos by sam chen are great                              
199)     <web3dADMyeah the new SGI NT boxes come with a great VRML intro  
200)     <Gordon> that when I try to view those SGI vrml, or any VRML with .gz extension to it  
201)     <web3dADM> yeah
202)  <GordonWinzip take over

 

Because of the enter key there is a  primary difference from  person-to-person conversation or natural talk.  It is as if one interrupts oneself. It can happen quite accidentally when someone is typing, and   hits the enter key,  dividing  their conversation as <Gordon> does above. At the same time, many chat participants habitually break their postings in this way, as if, in CA terms, claiming “the floor” for their ideas, by keeping interlocutors waiting for the completed thought.

During the event-pause the person who is “speaking” is writing the continuation of his or her text, whilst others are inserting their utterances into the chat. When we look at a larger selection, such as the six turns above, we can see that there was a complete thought by Gordon, who is expressing a frustration with the computer code in his or her program. Furthermore, these breaks in speech in the chatroom do function as a separate element in the verbal stream, similar to those Allen and Guy (1974) mention in their discussion of person-to-person talk. This introduces a “mechanics” of speech as a signifying act which includes a wide variety of meaningful techniques - in contrast to the behaviourists’ view that language and thoughts are identical. To behaviourists, there is no 'non-verbal thought', all thought is seen as determined only by the language used (Watson 1930, Sapir 1929 and Whorf, 1940, 1956). But CA – and now CA within the new conversational forms of the chatroom – is able to locate “meaningful” communicative acts in such calculated actions as pressing or not pressing the “enter” button; interrupting or not; “shouting” in caps or not; “texting” chat talk in abbreviations or emoticons, or in carefully regulated formal grammar and spell-checked entries. These ways of communicating are therefore forms of “language”, though not the same as language in person-to-person conversation.

CS 6.2.1 Adjacency Pairs and Turn-taking

Conversation analysis recognizes the existence of turn-taking procedures and adjacency pairs within conversations.  In chat rooms, one turn can be presented amongst multiple utterances, with intervening but totally unrelated statements. The conversation does not stop to wait for one person to finish a turn that he or she did not conclude in one utterance. Adjacency pairs describe  one method by which people structure conversation.  When one asks a question, one expects an answer.  In turn 47 below <brian> says <still confused about x3d> and <web3dADM> sympathizes, <so are most people brian>  - yet  ten-turns later <brian> is still without a comment on  his or her confusion: <what do u refer to when u say x3d then?>. Only then does  the topic  shift  to discussing x3d directly for the next thirty-five turns.

47) <brian> still confused about x3d
48) <web3dADM> so are most people brian
49) <brian>  r u talking about blaxxun and shout3d implimentations or   something else
50) <Leonard> They are still debating some wrapping issues
pauline joined.............
51) <pauline> hello there....
52) <web3dADM> hey pauline!
53) <pauline> hiya sandy ! how are things going ?
54) <Leonard> blaxxun and Shout have browsers based on their proposals, but no ones proposals were adopted in totality
55) <Leonard> Hi Pauline
56) <pauline>hi leonard !
57) <brian> what do u refer to when u say x3d then?

 

The turns above were interrupted by a new person entering the chatroom and others giving greetings. Interruption by people leaving the conversation and speaking with someone else is not the only splitting of conversations to occur in a chat-flow.

Due to the accidental hitting of the entry key an utterance can be split before it is completed:

40) <Leonard> I will be offereing it on-line through Digital University sometime this
41) <brian> can't make it
42) <Leonard>spring

Speakers can this actually have adjacency pairs within  their own turn-takings. In the following turns <Leonard> posts  two different utterances in a row, one  a question and the next  a statement. Both turns are taken before anyone responds. <web3dADM> answers the first question, even though not  personally addressed, and then responds to <Leonard>’s statement.

21) <Leonard> Anyone used Xeena?
22) <Leonard> 3D just arrived today
23) <web3dADM>  no it's on my list
24) <web3dADM> ahhh great Len

 

In CA terms, chat participants must learn to re-thread turns, eliminating some postings, without coding them as intended interruptions, and instead working towards reconstruction of consecutive threads. But how has this technique been acquired – and are there experiences inside natural or face to face conversation which pre-dispose us to towards interpretation of online non-sequential threads?

Two linguistic theories that concern the relationship between language and thought are 'mould theories' and 'cloak theories'. Mould theories represent language as 'a mould in terms of which thought categories are cast' (Bruner et al. 1956, p.11). An example of mould theory is The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Cloak theories represent the view that 'language is a cloak conforming to the customary categories of thought of its speakers' (ibid). (Daniel Chandler The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: http://www.aber.ac.uk/~dgc/whorg.html). In sum, this debate asks, is language bigger than and outside of its social use, or is social use in itself what forms and reforms language?

The American linguist Benjamin Whorf believed that speech is culture bound. He points out that words used are uniquely determined by specific cultures so that it is impossible to fully equate the thought processes of two persons from different cultures, even though they appear to be saying the same thing (Whorf 1956: 221). Extending on the work of Edward Sapir (1929), Whorf developed the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis'. This hypothesis combines two principles. The first is linguistic determinism, which states that language determines the way we think. The second is linguistic relativity, which states that the distinctions encoded in one language are not found in any other language (Whorf 1956).

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

            The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that:

We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there. On the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our mind (Whorf, 1952, p.5).

Language thus becomes a "determining"; or at least a structuring, set of regulatory practices. As such, its systems must be observable in action, in order for it to operate consensually within given culture. Elements of the system can be deduced from any given speech exchange  (including in the case of my study, those of CMC “talk”). Many such elements have been analysed. For instance, "sequence probability" (Allen & Guy p. 79) refers to the likelihood that any given verbal act will not be followed by just any other verbal act. An assertion for instance usually follows another assertion and not a question (Allen & Guy p. 189).

When discussing language determination we need however to ask whether an individual's analysis of their world links to their particular acquisition of their language's vocabulary, and whether people in different cultures analyse the world in different ways, linked to differences in the vocabulary and structuring systems of their language. The answers to such questions have important consequences for chatroom talk, where new formations appear to have evolved, or are still in the process of evolving. Is there already evidence that such new configurations of language might be impacting on world view – or at least on the social-relational and concept-formational activities which would reflect the emergence of new world views?

In chatroom conversation the chat "voices" have to be separated by participant speakers in order to follow the sequencing and turn taking. A  difficulty arises when a speaker responds to different speakers, instead of staying with one particular voice. We always know who is speaking in a chatroom because the username prefixes the talk. However, we do not always know to whom the speaker is responding, unless they use the usernames in their postings or there is a clear theme being responded to. Below it is clear that <Justin> is commenting to <web3dADM> without any name being used. In this case it is also clear because it is the next line.

10) <web3dADM> just got the Cult3D folks to agree to show up on March 3
11) <Justin> what's cult3d

 

Dialogue about Cult3D continues until turn 21 between only three participants, <brian>, <web3dADM> and <Justin>, until  <Leonard> introduces a new topic - however the overall topic is still about computer animation.

21) <Leonard> Anyone used Xeena?

 

Though in the following it is not clear who is being referred to,  it would be assumed the speaker is addressing the whole room:

51) <Pauline> hello there....

Despite the potential for disruption from Leonard and Pauline, the conversation is able to continue.  The regulatory systems are  placed under increased pressure to stay on topic. After returned greetings by two of the five, <web3dADM> in turn 52 and <Leonard> in turn 55, the conversation continues on with the animation topic:

59) <Leonard> Think of X3D as redoing the infrastructure of VRML. It is not a change

 

In such spaces it is typical that only a few  of the chatters will respond to someone new in the group. This is unlike person-to-person conversation, where a new person entering a room will usually be acknowledged by all of the others in the same space – dependent on the size of the group. In a real-life situation when there were only eight people in a room as there are in this room and a new person entered and said ‘hello’ the person would be greeted by all the others, not just two. It seems then that the greeting function, shown in earlier chat analyses as able to be a dominant practice in non-topic-specific spaces, can recede in importance, until it is only a ritual mode, which can adequately be handled by only a few participants in any one instance. Certainly this shift between not only natural conversation and online chat, but non-topic led chat and topic-focused types, indicates that chatrooms have already established quite different repertoires of practice for different contexts.

This study seeks however to establish whether such pressures as interruption and the necessity to re-thread simply increase participants' competence in speech exchange relations, or actually alter the regulatory systems. The evidence suggests that the language system[9] is in fact altered as speakers contrive their “talk” in a chatroom. There have not been any studies to date which examine  whether chat behaviour, were it to extend beyond the relatively brief technological “shelf-life” I have suggested it is likely to enjoy, could permanently alter face-to-face talk – although there is conjectural discussion in the media in relation to chat and SMS format and its arrival inside the language repertoire in school classrooms. . Online conversation however has many generic features  that cannot be replicated in person-to-person conversation. When  within individual chatrooms language systems change from word usage to emoticons or abbreviations,  as soon as one user begins, others often follow. This capacity to play creatively across the keyboard repertoire appears especially attractive to online chat participants. Here a group rapidly picks up the challenge to express opinions through numeral characters alone – and they spin the joke through several transformations:

98. <NMMprod> if you like the yanks press 3
99. <dhch96> 1111111111
100. <BLUERHINO11> got it
101. <dhch96> 1111111
102. <smith-eric> 5555555
103. <dhch96> 11111111
104. <dhch96> 111111
105. <CathyTrix-guest> 2I hate the Yankees
106. <smith-eric> don't have a 3
107. <Pizza2man> 12456789

The sophistication and speed of this reciprocity is marked, but the tendency to reply in kind is common.  Chat participants frequently reply using the same expression as the speaker before:

165) <Pauline> lol, hopefullly is a family site, sandy ! ;-)
166) <  web3dADM>  lol think so!

 And in Case Study 3,

1. <SluGGiE-> lol
2. <Mickey_P_IsMine>  LoL

 In face-to-face communication there are many layers of signals to decipher before meaning can be ascribed, including  gestures, facial expressions, body posture, intonation, inflexion, colloquialism, and so on.    In electronic ‘talk’ we have eliminated all but the actual typed symbols in providing added signification. . Within a chatroom conversation it is therefore impossible to construct nuances of talk as  developed in person-to-person conversation. Developed layers of meaning need more than one utterance, or else an established communicative community – or the safe expectation that one will exist – in order that a participant can colour their posting in the chat-codes which have evolved to carry these additional meanings.  But in the final analysis, what is this additional loading about? How necessary is it to the act of communication? Is it central, or optional? Are those chat participants who perform creatively inside the repertoires, “better communicators” – more influential in their chat groups? Are they, in CA terms, “powerful” conversationalists?

Conversational analysis focuses on actual communicative performance as it is realized in the social context. Language to CA theory however ultimately sees the communicative means as a social goal, which holds the human social systems and cultures together (e.g., Sacks 1992).   Does this lift the seeming inconsequence of non-topic chat into something meaningful and socially important?

CS 6.2.1 Moderated/Unmoderated

Before addressing such key questions, it is important to consider the issue of power specifically within the chatroom milieu, and its special communicative technologisation. Here, power is most obviously invested in one particular role, and it is crucial to examine this role, and how it operates, before proceeding.

Chatrooms can be moderated or unmoderated. The case studies I have looked at so far have been unmoderated, so that people can come and go and say what they please at anytime. But  there are also two types of moderated chatrooms. The first is the one I discuss here, where a moderator maintains the topic discussion, either by making those not appropriately contributing  leave the chatroom, or by bringing the discussion  back to the original topic. The other moderated chatroom is for an expert or a known person such as an actor or sports person to answer questions. This I refer to as edited-moderated chatroom – although in Australian use this is more often referred to as a “web forum”; see for instance many examples at ABC.net.au, used to allow audiences to discuss news and documentary content with expert guests and journalists, following radio or TV broadcasts. In these chatrooms the user sends their message to a moderator, who selects and posts messages for the person the chat is based around  to answer.

In any type of moderated chatroom there is thus some practice of censorship – so is  casual chat  possible in an area which is moderated? Most unmoderated chatrooms are open to the public.  Usually no one is in charge, and what transpires between the participators is built around the “conversational” turn taking that I am investigating. Some chatrooms, however, may have someone who overlooks the interaction, or a method to silence someone who may be a threat to the community sense of the chatroom.  For example, some chatrooms have warnings: “If you witness any obscene or rude behaviour, please email me at…” Or a notification is posted on the chatroom site stating that any of the following will not be tolerated: ‘Abusive language, Disrespect of others, Causing a disturbance, Purposely annoying others’.

A moderated chatroom can have different levels of moderation. At its most extreme in controlling content is the chatroom where participants write in their ‘talk’ and a designated person reviews what they say and either allows it to become visible for the other chatters or deletes it so no one else can see it. This makes a chatroom very topic specific and helps to keep the interchange between speakers on one subject or to keep out unwanted material, such as sexual or political  information, which is not suitable for the general public, and a distraction to an expert or topic-spcific group. It is also a method used by chatrooms which have a ‘guest speaker’  who currently has a high profile.

The formality introduced by such restrictions and the sense of being under surveillance, not only maintains topic, but also tends to produce a more conventional formality in language and presentation: even a certain “literariness” to postings, which often arrive as extended paragraphs, with levels of grammatical and lexical correctness which suggest a visit to the spell checker en route. (See for instance, http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/unmoderated.htm). More interesting is the topic-specific site with less formal moderation: where, as in the case I am examining  here, the moderator sets up the time and date and stands back for contributions – or jumps in him/herself to the debate, relating to content rather than to regulatory concerns. Here I am more easily able to compare the “expert chat” which I can anticipate will still be content lead, with the more “relational” chat of non-topic-specific sites, and so examine what it is which is producing different language forms in the talk of the two types of site.

CS 6.2.2 Bound by orderliness

The problem of measurement anchored in a complex phenomenon is that it can contain thousands of discreet elements within a short time span. Allen and Guy have identified some twenty types of basic elements in the action matrix of “live” two-person conversation. Many of these elements are not available to current chatroom speech, as they rely on physical cues for interpretation. In addition, social relations which can impose limits on conversation are not useful in chatroom analysis. In face-to-face conversation for instance participants must be concerned about the impressions which they make on the others (Goffman, 1959:33). Prior to electronic communication conversation has been considered a ‘reciprocal and rhythmic interchange of verbal emissions’ (Allen & Guy, 1974, p. 11).  However with  synchronous online interaction conversation should no longer be considered a merely verbal phenomenon, and all definitions need to be re-evaluated for their coverage of online practice.  The performance  in electronic talk of such regulatory features as Goffmann’s recognition of the need to preserve  face  is marked by the emergence of the practice of "flaming", or intense escalations of abusive exchange (Lea, O'Shea, Fung and Spears, 1992; Mabry, 2000; Turkle, 1996). Numerous early studies of online communication noted this tendency towards aggression and rapidly escalating abuse sequences – perhaps one of the motivators producing the careful attention to social relational formulae observed in Case Studies above.  

CS 6.2.3 Flaming

Not every chatroom has flaming, just as every conversation does not have insults as part of the dialogue. Flaming is another communicative tool, and needs to be analysed less as a problem, than as a communicative relation, whose use should indicate something about the talk relations at a particular moment and in a particular conversational context.  Most chat rooms in fact have rules  disallowing flaming within the room, yet abuse can still reach peaks of intensity usually possible only in selective communities – such as men’s locker rooms or other hyper-masculine locations (see for instance Kuiper, 1998). In this case it may be just <fRANKIE> who is intent on applying his online expressive creativity into an abuse mode: .

113. <fRANKIE> you are so low you have to have an umbrella to keep the ants

81. <fRANKIE> because you and texas asshole rose eat fried donkey dicks- (excuse me... pig dicks) on rye bread.... together

 

In the seeming chaos of nonlinear communication there are protocols and netiquette[10] controls – especially important in spaces without a chatroom moderator. The more usual open-topic rooms are largely  self-regulated environments, so that abuse, entering the mixed thread conditions of relatively loosely interconnected turn-taking, can cause serious disruption.   Aside from the social rules to adhere to the same standards of behavior online that one follows in real life, and so to maintain the sorts of speech behaviours displayed in the context one enters – as we have seen above -  there are unwritten online rules relating to respecting other people's time and bandwidth, as well as their privacy. Most important  though is being in the right chatroom with the right utterances at the right time. If a room is unmoderated others in the room may insist that an  offending party change  their talk or else change  their room. In the present  case study I have saved 500 turn takings and every turn is on the topic of 3D animation, unless it is a greeting to  a person coming into or leaving  the chatroom. And yet no one  censored this  talk. Even when there is disagreement as below (see http://se.unisa.edu.au/phd/moderated.htm),  it is usually the theme or topic of the chatroom which provides a sense of orderliness.

[fRANKIE] fuck you texas rose. you need to be sent back to afghanistan, where they make your type behave

[ZtingRay] If those bastard terrorists would stay in their own damn country... .that would be great

When someone has a different tone it is still about the same topic,

[AmericanExpress.] WHAT AFGHANISTAN NEEDS IS A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT - ELECTED BY ALL THE PEOPLE.

[ZtingRay] GOD BLESS THE USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the following series of turn-takings the moments when the participants self-regulate are noted,  as well as moments of leading; moments of contesting and moments of adding to the discussion.  

Participator

What is happening in this conversation

111) <brian> so did len say x3d not finalised yet?

adding to the discussion

112) <web3dADM> x3d is not finalized yet...yes true i think the final spec is due by siggraph time this summer but a lot should happen at the web3d conference too

adding to the discussion

113) <brian>is a lot of business done there?

adding to the discussion

114) <web3dADM> yeah quite a bit i suppose....most of the working groups meet

adding to the discussion

115) <brian> there's not a lot of info about the BUSINESS of web3d

adding to the discussion

116) <web3dADM> ahhh you mean money business?

Adding to the discussion

117) <brian> maybe someone should write a regular column i'm interested in what makes some of these companies tick!

Leading – introducing new information for the topic

118) <brian> eg. blaxxun, shout etc

This is a continuation of 117 but due to the enter button being hit it shows as another turn

119) <pauline> am back...

 Formal greeting

120) <web3dADM> hi there

 greeting

121) <pauline> hi again. ;-)

 greeting

122) <web3dADM> well I'm writing lots ;-)

 Response to 118, expressing disappointment at not having work recognized, but with emoticon as mitigator

123) <brian> yeh, you're the info hub!

 

Acknowledges that work does exist

124) <web3dADM> seriously...get the new "3D Magazine" issue on web3d

Leading – introducing new information for the topic

125) <brian> ok we'll probably get it here in oz in a few months! :(

adding to the discussion; also mirroring emoticon expressives: amounts to an apology

126) <web3dADM> ecommerce is certainly a good app...should help

adding to the discussion

127) <web3dADM> it may be up on there web site soon www.3dgate.com

adding to the discussion

128) <brian> thanks

adding to the discussion

129) <pauline> are there a lot of e-commerce sites doing vrml or 3d ??

Leading – introducing new information for the topic

130) <web3dADM> definitly growing

adding to the discussion

131) <brian> seems to have taken of (relatively) over the last 6 onths

adding to the discussion

132) <web3dADM> ahhhh! www.3dgate.com has the new issue!

adding to the discussion – also indicates moderator has checked a website while online: leading group as well as conversation

 

Because the topic of the chatroom is not breached except for a few greetings, there is only one incidence of self-regulation, in turn 123 – and this is a particularly mild reversal, acknowledging both error in assuming that no work yet existed on an issue, when the interlocutor had in fact produced such work – and at the same time reading and responding the mitigator attached to the rebuff, in the form of an emoticon.  In most chatrooms self-regulation occurs when someone tries more directly to get a speaker back onto a specific topic or to refrain from a particular strand of talk.

In Case Study One for instance  the topic is about Hurricane Floyd, and there is only one attempt at regulation,  in turn 125 when <Zardiw> reacts to <SWMPTHNG> saying <smptthing................go back to your SWAMP> in reaction to  <SWMPTHNG>’s turn of <i SAW A BUS LOAD HEADING ACROSS THE GEORGIA STATE LINE THIS MORNING> in turn 117. In that chatroom this technique works,  with <SWMPTHNG> making just one last comment on Mexican roofers: <WHAT AABOUT THE CONTRACTORS WHO HIRE THEM?? THEY OUGHT TO BE TRIED FOR TREASON DURING A NATIONAL EMERGENCY LIKE THIS> in turn 133. The next turn from <SWMPTHNG> is back to discussing where Hurricane Floyd is, <WHERE IS THE BLASTED DEVIL AT RIGHT NOW> - surrendering his political comments to the topic at hand. Notice though that once again, even when the repropf from <Zardiw> is quite direct, it still takes time to pun on <SWMPTHNG>’s name. As with the moderator’s emoticon attachment above, this formulation of rebuttal inside the special registers of chat appears to provide recognition that, even in the moment of critique, an errant group member is still included within the communicative community .

CS 6.3 Conclusion

Conversation analysis holds that talk is an orderly affair.  It is “organized by use of machinery deployed in and adapted to local contingencies of interaction across an immense variety of social settings and participants” (Zimmerman & Boden, 1991, p. 8). Conversation Analysis is an especially  useful analytical tool for understanding busy chatrooms where actual dialogue is buried beneath the  ‘noise’ of IRC technology, that shows for instance everyone that signs onto the chat server. For example in the IRC chat below there are only two actual utterances in thirty-six turns; the remainder showing merely someone joining or leaving, or an action such as kicking a user  out of the room:

1.    *** asim has joined #beginner

2.    *** A-SirD-Bot has left #beginner

3.    *** A-SirD-Bot has joined #beginner

4.    *** nybbler905 sets mode: +b *!*@200-184-112-212.intelignet.com.br

5.    *** nybbler905 sets mode: +b *!*@203.135.47.1

6.    *** we2 was kicked by ^BeginBot^ (banned from channel)

7.    *** asim was kicked by ^BeginBot^ (banned from channel)

8.    *** young-male has joined #beginner

9.    *** BARNITYA has joined #Beginner

10.*** CRONOS405 has quit IRC (Ping timeout)

11.<primz1> dont know much about it

12.*** Guest39262 has joined #beginner

13.*** DjNItin has quit IRC (Ping timeout)

14.*** nybbler905 sets mode: -b *!*@203.135.47.1

15.*** AlertMe has left #Beginner

16.*** sweety49 has joined #beginner

17.*** `Peer_Away` sets mode: -b *!*@202.151.228.95

18.*** ET is now known as Guest10473

19.*** kitty-mews sets mode: -b *!*joaoa@*.intelignet.com.br

20.*** nybbler905 sets mode: -b *!*@200-184-112-212.intelignet.com.br

21.*** erin22 has joined #Beginner

22.*** jooe has joined #Beginner

23.*** Neo has joined #beginner

24.*** nybbler905 sets mode: +b *!*@ppp06-iligan.mozcom.com

25.*** Guest39262 was kicked by nybbler905 ( Clone Removal of *!*@ppp06-iligan.mozcom.com)

26.*** Neo was kicked by nybbler905 ( Clone Removal of *!*@ppp06-iligan.mozcom.com)

27.*** ci-be-rawit has quit IRC (Ping timeout)

28.*** adam has joined #Beginner

29.*** jooe has left #Beginner

30.*** jabin has quit IRC (Quit: )

31.*** sand`and`scents is now known as depths

32.*** dbztoolkit has joined #Beginner

33.*** guitarguy18 has joined #beginner

34.*** Guest49543 has joined #beginner

35.*** Elaijah has joined #Beginner

36.<dbztoolkit> whats going on in here

An IRC chatroom on http://www.irc.org/

Curiously, had the two actual dialogue postings been reversed in order, they could be read as interactants – in effect, as question and answer.  But with the intrusion of so many technical entries, this space appears too chaotic to interpret. According to conversation analysis, turn-taking is integral to the formation of any interpersonal exchange. In The Business of Talk: Organizations in Action, Deidre Boden  (1994, p. 66) compiles a list of the “essential features of turn-taking”:

·        one speaker speaks at a time

·        number and order of speakers vary freely

·        turn size varies

·        turns are not allocated in advance but also vary

·        turn transition is frequent and quick

there are few gaps and few overlaps in turn transition Boden’s definitions hold good for online chat, although in the IRC chat above  the speakers need to be separated from the noise of the participants coming and going.

Other than in the act of lurking,  participants in chatrooms demonstrate their knowledge of the chatsite they are visiting in order to be accepted or rejected by others in the chatroom. The signaling of one’s status as an insider or not is important in  establishing communicative membership – and in cases where a participant resists or attempts to overturn prevailing norms, they will be censured, ignored, and even ejected. . In this chatroom on computer animation it is clear that <web3dADM> is the leader or moderator,  not only because of the abbreviation for administrator (ADM) behind the web3d part of the username, but because of the number of leader entries posted, the expertise displayed in answering questions, the familiar greetings to arriving participants, and especially the interaction with those seeking information on the chatroom itself:

4) <Justin>  my first visit here; what's normal?

8) <web3dADM> NORMAL ;-) I try not to be normal ;-) nothing formal justin unless there is a guest

 

<web3dADM> is also known by a first name, ‘sandy’, showing the community that develops in a chatroom:

52) <web3dADM> hey pauline!
53) <Pauline> hiya sandy ! how are things going ?

 

In the next and last case study I discuss the grammar of chatroom talk.

 

 


 

[1] The url for this introduction is at: http://web3d.about.com/mpchat.htm

[2] I have used this as a moderated chatroom because this is on a specific topic and the owner of the chatroom was in the room at the time and answered questions as well as maintained the dialogue. However, on the site for this chatroom in the “guidelines’ section it states: ‘First things first. This is an unmoderated chat room. Your About.com Guides may be present during scheduled events but the Guides do not constantly monitor their chat rooms on a 24 hour basis and, therefore neither the Guide nor About.com, are responsible for any content and behavior in the chat rooms.’

[3] http://web3d.about.com/library/chatlogs/2000/blcl020900a.htm?once=true&

[4] I requested permission to use the logs for this chat from the owner (moderator of the site) “Sounds cool...no objections at all...good luck finishing ;-)
Sandy”  http://web3d.about.com/mbiopage.htm

[5] There are many interpretations of Conversation Analysis. Several which I will base this brief look at CA as it applies to chatrooms I cite below:

“Conversation Analysis is a disciplined way of studying the local organization of interactional episodes, its unique methodological practice has enabled its practitioners to produce a mass of insights into the detailed procedural foundations of everyday life…” (Paul ten Have)[5]

The central goal of conversation analytic research is the description and explication of the competences that ordinary speakers use and rely on in participating in intelligible, soically organized interaction.  At its most basic, this objective is one of describing the procedures by which conversationalists produce their own behavior and understand and deal with the behavior of others. A basic assumption throughout is Garfinkel’s (1967: 1) proposal that these activities – producing conduct and understanding and dealing with it – are accomplished as the accountable products of common sets of procedures. (Heritage & Atkinnsonn (1984).

 

[6] See appendix4 the glossary for an expanded definition and sources on ethnomethodology.

[7] See http://www.uni-saarland.de/fak4/norrick/vlda.htm for an essay on  Functional theories of language (ethnomethodology and - more recently - in discursive psychology. See Sacks, H. (1972 a) 'An initial investigation of the usability of conversational data for doing sociology'. In: D. Sudnow, ed. Studies in social interaction. New York: Free Press: 31-74

 

[9] ‘The system of a specific language at a specific time, seen in abstraction from its history; from its use on specific occasions and by specific individuals; from other systems of culture, knowledge, etc.’ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics, © Oxford University Press 1997.

[10] There has been much written on netiquette. Basically "Chat-Netiquette" is chatroom etiquette, the do's and don'ts of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal "rules of the road" of cyberspace.

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Blog- index updated May 29, 2014  K - 12 technology (updated May 27, 2014). Travel Site (2013) updated May 28, 2014. Videos/Blogs on Youtube, Twitter, Wordpress, Photo albums. Updated 15 Second Street, Round Lake, New York and photos from parent's 1943 wedding as well as Leigh's page. Farmville page updated Thursday, March 17, 2011 5:58 PM. neuage.org updated May 29, 201410:31 PM.     neuage.us updated May 25, 2014 7:21 PM.    Resume updated January 1, 2013    

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