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The Changing Nature Of Text: A Linguistic Perspective

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the question how does digitally mediated communication alter the notion of text? There are some continuities with traditionally spoken and written text, but also important discontinuities. Differences with speech include new patterns of turn-taking, the use of emoticons, and new conversational rhythms. Differences with writing include issues of persistence, animateness, hypertext linkage, and framing. A pragmatic perspective brings to light new kinds of text, such as those which include features to defeat spam filters or to ensure a high search-engine ranking, or those which raise ergonomic or ethical issues. Digitally mediated communication also raises the question of how to handle texts whose boundaries are continually changing, as in forums and comment postings. Issues of responsibility arise relating to who is the author of a text, especially in contexts where there is moderation or interactivity.

Keywords: conversational rhythms; digitally mediated communication; emoticons; pragmatics; speech; writing



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