Young people's eweryday literacles: The language festures of instant messaging

Christina Haas, Pamela Takayoshi, Brandon Carr, Kimberley Hudson, Ross Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In this article, we examine writing in the context of new communication technologies as a kind of everyday literacy. Using an inductive approach developed from grounded theory, we analyzed a 32,000-word corpus of college students' Instant Messaging (IM) exchanges. Through our analysis of this corpus, we identify a fifteen-item taxonomy oflM language features and frequency patterns which provide a detailed, data-rich picture of writers working within the technological and situational constraints of lM contexts to creatively inscribe into their written conversations important paralinguistic information. We argue that the written features of lM function paralinguistically to provide readers with cues as to how the writing is to be understood. By writing into the language paralinguistic cues, the participants in our study work to clarify, or more precisely disambiguate, meaning. Through a discussion of four of these features-eye dialect, slang, emoticons, and meta-markings-we suggest how the paralinguistic is inscribed in IM's language features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-404
Number of pages27
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011


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