This paper examines linguistic features of text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) in Hong Kong. The study is based on a 70,000-word corpus of electronic mail (email) and ICQ instant messaging texts, which was mainly collected from a group of youngsters in Hong Kong. A questionnaire survey was also carried out to complement the textual findings. Some language-specific features are identified, which include Cantonese-based shortenings, common grammatical 'errors' such as inappropriate verb forms and lexical choice, subject omission, code-mixing, and creative orthographic representations of Cantonese. In addition, significant differences are found between email and ICQ texts in terms of the distribution of linguistic features. It is shown that these features are employed more frequently in synchronous communication via ICQ. The study suggests that these linguistic features may be seen as new 'literacy practices' i.e. how people use and think about texts in different contexts, within the theoretical framework of New Literacy Studies (NLS). The study further reveals that CMC texts should be analyzed in different CMC systems, as well as in different linguistic and cultural settings. It is concluded that language and literacy researchers and practitioners should recognize the novelty and the linguistic specificity of CMC texts.
The prevalence of text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) has enormous impact on the growing amount of research into the distinctive features of the text-based CMC (e.g. Baron 1984, 1998, 2001, Herring 1996, Davis and Brewer 1997, Snyder 1998, Paolillo 1999, Crystal 2001). This paper focuses on the linguistic features in electronic mail (email) and ICQ (I-Seek-You) messaging which are specific to the Hong Kong context. The research seeks to examine the underlying relationship between language and literacy in the context of text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) in Hong Kong.[Copyright of Reading Matrix: An International