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I tweet like I talk: Aspects of speech and writing on Twitter
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies. (Kulturvetenskapliga forskargruppen)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0680-4275
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation investigates linguistic and metalinguistic practices in everyday Twitter discourse in relation to aspects of speech and writing. The overarching aim is to investigate how the spoken–written interface is reconfigured in the digital writing spaces of social media.

The dissertation comprises four empirical case studies and six chapters. The first study investigates communicative functions of hashtags in a speech act pragmatic framework, focalizing tagging practices that not only mark topics or organize hypertextual interaction, but rather have more specific locally meaningful functions. Two studies investigate reported speech in tweets, focusing on quotatives typically associated with informal conversational interaction (e.g., BE like). The studies identify strategies by which Twitter users animate (Tannen, 2007) speech reports. Further, one of the studies explores how such animating practices are afforded (Hutchby, 2001). Lexically, orthographically, and with images, but primarily through typography, users make voice, gesture, and stance present in their tweets, digitally re-embodying the rich nonverbal expressivity of animation in talk. Finally, a study investigates notions of talk-like tweeting from an emic perspective, showing users' negotiations of how tweets can and should correspond to speech in relation to social identity, linguistic competence, and personal authenticity.

Six chapters situate and synthesize the case studies in an expanded theoretical framework. Together, the studies show how Twitter's speech–writing hybridity extends beyond a mix of linguistic features, and challenges a traditional idea of writing as a mere representation of speech. Talk-like tweeting remediates (Bolter & Grusin, 2000) presence and embodiment, forgoing the abstraction of phonetic print literacy for nonverbal expressivity and an embodied written surface. Twitter talk is shown not simply to substitute literacy norms for oral norms, but to complicate and reconfigure these norms. Talk-like tweeting makes manifest an ongoing cultural renegotiation of the meanings of speech and writing in the era of digital social media.

Abstract [en]

What does it mean to tweet like one talks? To pose this question is really to ask what happens to the relation between spoken and written language, and to cultural values tied to orality and literacy, in the digital writing spaces of social media. This dissertation investigates particular features of Twitter discourse in relation to questions concerning the technological mediation of language-in-interaction, with an emphasis on themes traditionally linked with ideas of speech and writing.

Based on the findings of four empirical case studies, the dissertation argues that Twitter writing remediates speech, hybridizing spoken and written language in ways that extend beyond a mere mix of linguistic features. The everyday digital texts of social media revive and reconfigure ideas about how, or whether, writing represents speech, about textual authenticity, about the conditions of possibility for personal presence and voice in virtual spaces, and about the educational norms of traditional literacy. What is at stake is not merely a substitution of literacy norms for conversational norms, but rather a complication of their relationship.

In its linguistic and reflexive practices, Twitter talk makes manifest a cultural renegotiation of the meanings of spoken and written language today.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2017. , p. 117
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2017:44
Keywords [en]
Social media, Twitter, speech, writing, orality, literacy, CMC, remediation
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Specific Languages Media and Communications
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-64752ISBN: 978-91-7063-821-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-916-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-64752DiVA, id: diva2:1152512
Public defence
2017-12-15, Sjöströmsalen, 1B 309, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-23 Created: 2017-10-25 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. #srynotfunny: Communicative functions of hashtags on Twitter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>#srynotfunny: Communicative functions of hashtags on Twitter
2014 (English)In: SKY Journal of Linguistics, ISSN 1456-8438, E-ISSN 1796-279X, Vol. 27, p. 127-152Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates various communicative functions served by hashtags in written communication on Twitter from a linguistic pragmatic perspective. A tweet containing a hashtag links to, and is integrated into, a timeline of other tweets containing the same hashtag. Thus, hashtags are by default categorizing or organizing; a user of Twitter may add the tag #food to their tweet to integrate it into a general conversation about this topic. However, this study demonstrates that hashtags are also used creatively to perform other communicative functions. In the data presented, hashtags are employed as complexly multifunctional linguistic devices for, among other things, structuring information, playing games, and engaging in reflexive meta-commentary. Notably, while pragmatic methodology is typically applied to speech, this study indicates that a traditional speech acts framework may be profitably applied to written communication in new media.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Helsinki: Linguistic Association of Finland, 2014
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Specific Languages Communication Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34891 (URN)
Available from: 2015-01-12 Created: 2015-01-12 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved
2. & she was like "O_O": Animation of reported speech on Twitter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>& she was like "O_O": Animation of reported speech on Twitter
2014 (English)In: Nordic Journal of English Studies, ISSN 1654-6970, E-ISSN 1654-6970, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 83-111Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study relates discourse-pragmatic aspects of the use of the quotatives say, be like, be all, and go to the question of the supposed or actual spoken-likeness of written computer-mediated communication (CMC). 1,800 tokens of reported speech, collected from Twitter, were analyzed in a “constructed dialogue” framework (Tannen, 2007). The results show that users of Twitter employ various CMC devices to animate and modally enrich reported speech, especially in speech reports with be like, be all, and go. They perform a style of communication that is reminiscent of conversational speech, even while having qualities that seem to belong uniquely to CMC.

National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Specific Languages Communication Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34890 (URN)
Available from: 2015-01-12 Created: 2015-01-12 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved
3. When I need/want to: Normativity, identity, and form in user construals of 'talk-like' tweeting
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When I need/want to: Normativity, identity, and form in user construals of 'talk-like' tweeting
2016 (English)In: Discourse, Context & Media, ISSN 2211-6958, E-ISSN 2211-6966, Vol. 14, p. 54-62Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The focus of this study is on how Twitter users construe talk-like tweeting in metalinguistic utterances. In a material of tweets containing or responding to explicit comparisons of tweeting to talking (N=520), a broad range of construals are identified, showing Twitter users associating talk-likeness with, e.g., notions of the textual representation of voice, of grammatical (in-)correctness, of accurately reflecting one׳s ‘real-life’ identity, and of regional or social variation in language use. These associations frequently serve normative functions, enforcing or contesting linguistic and discursive norms in both serious and playful ways. The findings offer a novel perspective on the oft-debated orality of computer-mediated discourse, providing a window on how a process of enregisterment (Agha, 2007) is instantiated and how language norms are actively negotiated by participants in everyday online language use on Twitter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keywords
Enregisterment; Normativity; Orality; Reflexivity; Talk; Twitter
National Category
Languages and Literature Specific Languages Media and Communications
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-46957 (URN)10.1016/j.dcm.2016.09.003 (DOI)000390721200006 ()
Available from: 2016-10-28 Created: 2016-10-28 Last updated: 2018-01-14Bibliographically approved
4. (en-)acting out: Twitter's affordances for animating reported speech
Open this publication in new window or tab >>(en-)acting out: Twitter's affordances for animating reported speech
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Specific Languages General Language Studies and Linguistics Media and Communications
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-64748 (URN)
Available from: 2017-10-23 Created: 2017-10-23 Last updated: 2018-06-27

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