Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk PHD thesis by Dr. Terrell Neuage  University of South Australia National Library of Australia.  THESIS COMPLETE .pdf  / or

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






Return to Chapter two  Thursday, 29 November 2001



METHODOLOGY – approaches to analysing Astrology 'chat'

1.        Development of a protocol of a transcription methodology in case study 2 .

2.    Discourse structures in Astrology 'chat' using speech Act (SA) theory


The protocol I will use in this chat room is similar to what was used in chapter 1.  I will look at words written to discover how a seemingly incoherent conversation is able to continue.  We use grammar in what is loosely a sentence when we speak to one another.  In a chatroom not only do we understand one another with very few words but we understand and continue the conversation with misspelt words as well as non-words made up of abbreviations[i], jargon and symbols.  If and when someone is able to understand what is being said then they are in a position to respond.





greetings or salutations


statement- open noone in particular, ever who is in the chatroom


 statement - to someone named or previous (earlier) speaker


 answer - to someone named or previous (earlier) speaker


 answer - open - to ever who is in the chatroom


 question - open - to anyone - ever who is in the chatroom


 question - to someone specific or previouis (earlier) speaker


 undetermined or not classifiable by one of the criteris above


 uses abbreviations such as lol


 uses emoticons in places of words or identify


 new thread (if a particular thread (direction of talk)




2.   Discourse structures in Astrology 'chat' using speech Act (SA) theory



In my discussion in chapter two I will focus on Speech Act Theory. 


Austin's (1962) famous How to do things with words showed that we use language to accomplish actions, and not just to make true or false statements.

Austin recognized various sorts of “speech acts,”


His "performative analysis" identified particular verbs and sentences which we use to perform acts with social and interactional consequences


Searle (1969, 1975) developed Austin’s insights


Locutionary acts:                      referring, predicating, negating, subordinating

Illocutionary acts:                      naming, promising, apologizing, congratulating

Perlocutionary acts:                   persuading, intimidating, incriminating


Speech act classification (illocutionary acts)


Declarations are those kinds of speech acts that change the world via their utterance.


            a. Priest: I now pronounce you husband and wife.

            b. Referee: You're out!

            c. Jury Foreman: We find the defendant guilty.


Representatives are those kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker believes to be the case or not.


            a. The earth is flat.

            b. Chomsky didn't write about peanuts.

            c. It was a warm sunny day.


In using a representative, the speaker makes words fit the world (of belief).


Expressives are those kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker feels. They express psychological states and can be statements of pleasure, pain, likes, dislikes, joy, or sorrow.


            a. I'm really sorry!

            b. Congratulations!

            c. Oh, yes, great, mmmm, wow!



Directives are speech acts speakers use to get someone else to do something.


a.           a.            Give me a cup of coffee.

b.           b.            Could you lend me a pen, please?

c.            c.             Don’t touch that.


Commissives are speech acts which commit speakers to a certain course of action.  In using a commissive, the speaker undertakes to make the world fit the words.


a.           a.            I’ll be back in a minute.

b.           b.            I’m going to get it right next time.

c.            c.             We won’t ever do that again.


Felicity conditions on speech acts


Felicity conditions must be met for speech acts to be successful


Generally:         Speaker and addressee must share a common language

                        Speaker must make utterance understandable


For apologizing: Speaker has caused Addressee harm or trouble

                                   Speaker feels sorry about it and seeks exoneration


For requesting:  Some situation to be altered

                                   Addressee can perform the act

                                   Speaker has some right to ask Addressee to do it


Felicity conditions and Indirect Speech Acts


Speakers can perform speech acts indirectly by mentioning felicity conditions


Thus, a speaker can apologize indirectly by saying: 


              I feel sorry for causing you trouble

              Please forgive me for causing you trouble


Or for minor offenses, just:        Sorry.

                                                           Excuse me.


And a speaker can make an indirect request by saying: 


              The door is open.

              The door needs to be closed.

              Can you close the door?

              I demand the door be closed.


But what about:


              Were you born in a barn?

              There’s a draft in here


Such utterances might count as indirect requests to close the door as well, but they don’t relate to the felicity conditions in any regular way



Aristotle wrote that ‘every sentence is significant… but not every sentence is a statement-making sentence, but only those in which there is truth or falsity…’[ii]


interlocutors in synchronous dialogue


To analysis of astrotalk chatroom


[i]  A list of abbreviations used in chatrooms can be found at:  And a list of internet jargon can be seen at:

[ii] From the Edghill translation of Aristotle’s De interpretatione.

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