Address Terms in Computer Mediated Communication: Email, Chat and Weblogs

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the use of address phrases in three forms of computer mediated communication (CMC) in English. The aim of the study is to examine how people address each other in email, online chat and weblogs. The three forms of CMC included in the study represent different types of communicative situations online as regards synchronicity, speed of production, number of participants and permanency. The study also investigates how the use of address phrases varies between the three forms and in relation to usage in spoken and other forms of written English.For the purposes of the project, three corpora were collected, one for each form of CMC. The email corpus comprises business email from the United States, the chat corpus includes data from a range of different types of multi-person chat rooms, and the weblog corpus consists of text from a number of personal weblogs. I then investigated the lexical and syntactic characteristics and the pragmatic functions of the address phrases found in the corpora. In the email and weblogs material, I also examined gender-related differences in the use of address phrases.The results of the investigation show that CMC users employ different types of address phrases in different forms of CMC; first names and online nicknames dominated in the email and chat material, while the weblogs included a large number of common nouns as headwords in the address phrase. Address phrases are also used for different pragmatic purposes in different types of CMC.

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