Week 1: Jan 28

Intro: What is Internet Linguistics?

Define what we will be studying as Internet Linguistics – what counts as linguistics and what doesn’t – as this could easily become the study of everything.

Key points here:

We are only looking at language

Our questions are:

  1. How has language and human to human or human to computer interaction changed in response to digital technologies?
  2. What linguistic questions can be asked as a result of having so much recorded text?

Week 2: Feb 4

Historical Perspectives on Digitally Mediated Communication – evolution of medium

Contextualize how important and influential the digital revolution is – give background and situate the course in both an historical perspective and modern and articulate some of the major areas that CMC is relevant to.

Computers could take over everything though except communication and language, this is causing unprecedented shifts in education, journalism, publishing. What is it that a human has that automation doesn’t?

Reading  There is more reading this week than any other week in order to give you a solid foundation in what we will be talking about all semester. The investment in reading now will pay of greatly in the weeks to come.

Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana,” 1995  (very short)

Kevin Kelly, n.d.  (This is a Ted Talk)

Baron, 2010, p. Page 1–8

Murray 2004 Language of CMC

Week 3: Feb 11

Are texting, IM, and ‘netspeak’ ruining language?

Students will come away understanding that adults have been bemoaning the under-education of every generation, and literacy levels have not changed. If children are in fact more prone to confusing registers, then that is a different problem to be addressed. Now we can ask what elements make it look different than traditional written language.

Crystal, 2011, pp. 3–7

Crystal, 2011, p. Chpt 4

The Period.

Because Internet

Further Reading (optional, but encouraged): Baron, 2010, p. Chpt 8

Lyddy, Farina, Hanney, Farrell, & Kelly O’Neill, 2013  Analysis_college_student_text

Week 4: Feb 18

Is CMC speech or writing?

Students will be introduced to the features of speech and the features of writing that make each distinctive, then analyze CMC communication against these.  What if it isn’t speech or writing? Then how do we classify it?

Soffer 2010 Silent Orality

Baron, 2010, p. Chpt 4: Are Instant Messages Speech?

Week 5: Feb 25

Synchronous/ Asynchronous

See how synchronicity plays into our understanding of communication and perceptive of permanence. What effect does the level of synchronicity of a medium have? Are all mediums used this way? Is it the medium or the social situation that dictates how we use a technology? How have companies responded to the demand for increased control over timing?

Crystal, 2011, p. Chpt 2

It’s All in the Timing: Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communication.  Sternberg, 1998


Optional: If you are really interested in the early discussion of MUDs and MOOs, here’s a Wired article about them

Week 6: March 4

Audience/ Addressee – New social Conventions

By now, students should have a solid feel for the fact that it’s people that keep us engaged on the internet – not the fancy tools. Given that, how do we reconcile the private-public and does that have any effect on our communication style?

Georgakopoulou, 2011, On for Drinkies? 

Baron, 2010, Chpt 3

Week 7: March 11

Computer Mediated Discourse

Communication is a two way act, so how do people respond to being engaged in discourse activities on the internet, when their interlocutors are miles and maybe time zones away? Taking a gender perspective, we can see that the patterns we know to exist in f2f communication transfer to cmc.

Herring 2007 Faceted_Classification_Scheme_for_CMD

Herring, 2004 slouching_toward_the_ordinary-_current_trends_in_computer-mediated_communication

Further reading: Herring, 2010, Gender and Floor

Week 8: March 18

Identity & Self Presentation

How do users portray themselves on the internet? How do users use language to construct their identity and user groups? How do users control what the world sees of them and does language influence identity choice?

Baron, 2010, p. Chpt 5

Further Reading: (Wang, Walther & Hancock, 2008) SocID InterpersonalCMC

(Zhao, Grasmuck, & Martin, 2008) Identity Construction on Facebook

(Norton & Toohey, 2011)  Identity LangLearn and SocChange

Week 9: March 25

Facebook, twitter & the making of a social web


Understand how the web went from a unidirectional information dispenser to a collective creative outlet where people all over the world are connected and have interactions completed based on trust and quantified reputation.

(Boyd, 2014) Its Complicated

(O’Dell, 2011, p. Infographic – History of Social Media)

(Brake, 2013)

Week 10: April 1

Multilingual Internet: The English paradox and Distance Language Learning

Eventhough non-English users have outnumbered English speakers on the internet, English still dominates the content and organization. ASCII Codes have been introduced and some advances have been made, but the potential for the internet to be a driving force in language preservation is weaking as more and more people see English as the language of the internet

(Barton & Lee, 2012) Redefining Vernacular literacies

(Danet & Herring, 2007) Multilingualism on the Internet

Week 11: April 8

Translation services

How online translators work, why they don’t function well on syntax and semantics and the all powerful role of statistics. This is the most automation we have looked at all semester – what does this say about language and linguistics and the role of people on the internet? Does it say something about the human language faculty? Should we take this as a disruption to generative linguistics?

(“What Do You Look for in Modern Translation?,” 2013)

Skim this:



What is made possible by the huge availability of text that has been created by non specialists? What bigger questions can be asked and what tools are available to answer those questions. We must discuss how the tool influences the results.

(Belsky, n.d.)

Read this and look at the tools mentioned:


Week 13: May 6

Search Engines & Ambiguity

If I type “apple” into a serach engine, what will I get? The company? The food? Recipes? How do search engines decide? How do they prioritize certain results over others? How could this be made better? Do their decisions of how to interpret your search terms have anything to do with what content you find?

(Slawski, n.d.)

(“SEO Ambiguity & Pattern Recognition,” n.d.)

Week 14: May 13