Computer Mediated Communication

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With respect to Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), Murray discusses and draws conclusions on the following three areas:

1) New communicative situations that CMC enables and fosters

Development of computer technology lead to creating of ‘a new site for discourse’, characteristics of which have not been conventionalized yet. CMC has discourse patterns that are similar to other types of discourse: it ‘exhibits the same gendered, hierarchical characteristics as do other registers’. CMC has a variety of communicative situations in text-based modes: e-mail, bulletin boards, computer conferences, IRC, listserves, chatrooms, WWW homepages, etc. Due to this variety, it has not developed into a specific genre. It is more writing-like than speech and more speech-like than writing.

2) Metaphors used in discussions about CMC and their effects on people’s perceptions and judgments about CMC.

The language that is used to describe computer technology makes it sound more human-like. Many computer related metaphors create a positive, progressive stance and reflect the values of the current society (e.g., Information Superhighway). However, they do not reflect the social context, namely public policy and social ethics.

3) Role of English in cyberspace

English dominates CMC (like it does in many other areas of international communication). Some people see this as a danger to other languages, while others consider the Internet as a way of promoting their native tongues. Murray argues that there is a potential for exclusion and inclusion of languages other than English for the use in the cyberspace communication. The author argues that language policies need to be developed so that speakers of other language could use computer technology to its full benefit and without putting their native tongues at risk.

Reference: Murray, D.E. (2006) The language of cyberspace. In E. Finegan & J.R. Rickford (Eds.), Language in the USA. (pp 463-379). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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