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Language and the Internet

Susan C. Herring


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Language and (or “on”) the →  Internet refers to human language (or language intended to be human-like, such as the linguistic output of artificial intelligence agents) produced and displayed through computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems that are mostly text based and mostly reciprocally interactive, such as email, listserv lists, newsgroups, chat, instant messaging, text messaging via mobile phones (SMS), blogs, and wikis. The term “Internet language” is somewhat of a misnomer, in that some of this communication takes place on intranets and some is mediated by mobile technologies, rather than by the global networked infrastructure known as the Internet per se (→  Internet, Technology of ). “Internet” is used here in an extended sense to include these related communication technologies. Variant terms for Internet language include computer-mediated language, computer-mediated discourse, online discourse, and electronic discourse (→  Technologically Mediated Discourse ). All of these are intended to distinguish language- and discourse-related phenomena as a focus of interest from the broader phenomenon of computer-mediated communication, of which they form a part. Language in the form of typed text is one of the most pervasive and visible manifestations of Internet use. Internet language has attracted the interest of scholars, educators, and the general public, and has been ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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