Internet language in user-generated comments : Linguistic analysis of data from four commenting groups

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013)


The present study examines typical features of internet language found in user-generated comments collected from commenting groups from four online magazines aimed at different readerships: (1) adult women (Working Mother and Mothering), (2) adult men (Esquire), (3) young women (Seventeen) and (4) young men (Gameinformer). Approximately 5,000 words from each commenting group were collected, creating a 21,087 word corpus which was analyzed with regard to typographic (emoticons, nonstandard typography of and, personal pronouns you and I) and orthographic features (abbreviations, acronyms) as well as syntactic and stylistic features resembling spoken language (contracted forms, ellipsis of subject and/or verb and commenting tone). The results show that adult men wrote the longest comments, followed by adult women, young men and young women in descending order. Furthermore, as for the typical features regarding typography and orthography, it was found that among the four commenting groups, adult men and adult women used them very sparsely, young men used them occasionally and young women used the features most frequently. The analysis of tone showed that adult men mostly used an aggressive or neutral tone, while adult women, young women and young men mostly used a friendly or neutral tone. Young women used an aggressive tone more often than adult women and young men. Moreover, regarding the syntactic and stylistic features, results revealed that the young men were the most frequent users of ellipsis of subject and/or verb, followed by adult women, young women and adult men. Contracted forms were used extensively in the potential places of contractions, regardless of commenting group. Since young men used the ellipsis of subject and/or verb most frequently of all commenting groups and also used the contracted forms in all potential places of contractions, the conclusion is that the young men used a style that is closer to spoken English than the three other commenting groups.

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