konferencia fordítás konceptualizáció kognitív nyelvi világkép filológia szakdolgozat nyelvészet metafora imperative language patterns phraseology representation death linguistic worldview infinitive szecesszió grammatika főnévi igenév kettős állítmány stilizáció stíluselemzés dekorativitás decorativity nyelvi példa klasszikus modernség eufemizmus euphemistic phrases alcoholic drink irodalmi vita theory of criticism the betrayal of the intellectuals az írástudók árulása recenzió irodalomtörténet recepciótörténet irodalompolitika hungarian literature modernity classical modernism magyar irodalom modernitás cognitive analysis prevalence inflection frazéma frazeológia antonima antonímia horvát nyelv rikkancs bulvársajtó media kognitív metafora kognitív nyelvészet linguistic image of the world cognitive linguistics nyelvoktatás didaktika pszicholingvisztika tartalomelemzés croatian language antonymy irodalmi társaságok modern magyar irodalom ady endre vörösmarty díj literary organizations modern hungarian literature vörösmarty prize irodalomtudomány újraszerkesztés újrafordítás polish language metaphor szaknyelv fordítástudomány retranslation phraseme facebook proto slavic perspective ekvivalencia hatalom ideológia deontikus modalitás sajtótörténet history of press nyelvtörténet dialektológia nyelvi kép világ_nyelvi_képe szemantika nyelvi_kép conceptualization ideology magyar_nyelv nyelvhasználat faktitív ige hungarian language equivalence focalization irony családregény nézőpont fokalizáció gyermekelbeszélő irónia vonzatkutatás szövegnyelvészet nyelvjárás szerb translation tudománytörténet critical_discourse_analysis factitive verb causativity tanulmánykötet optimalizáció zenitism szabadverselés szabadstrófa horvát expresszionizmus zenitizmus önéletrajz performativitás autobiography identity performativity criseology szláv lexika orosz nyelv ősszláv historical linguistics slavic vocabulary avantgárd expresszionizmus horvát filológia nyelvhelyesség funkcióige eszmetörténet narratológia diskurzuselemzés narratology discourse analysis modern_filológiai_társaság krízeológia önéletírás életrajz asszociáció analógia szimmetria nyelvi intuíció nyelvi formalizáció russian language

Non-standard syntactic markers in SMS discourse

Amaghlobeli, Natia


[Kivonat] [Abstract in English] [A teljes cikk letölthető formátumban]


1. Introduction

The new forms of written communication, especially short message correspondence and its technical limitations or, more probably, possibilities make the costumer or enable him(her) to deviate from canonic norms of language. Therefore, the discourse becomes more effective, live and expressive. Today researchers agree that due to its technological characteristics, the short message discourse is similar to both asynchronous (electronic mail, online forum discussion) and synchronous (internet chat, instant messages) communication (Anis 1998; Davis−Brewer1997; Ferrara−Brunner−Whittemore 1990; Marcoccia−Gauducheau 2007; Tornow 1997). Despite of its synchronous nature, the limited number of characters makes it like to the chat language. Thus SMS language has both written and spoken features that is it’s the most important trait.

This contradictory character of SMS communication creates additional problem with syntactic analysis that is related to mixing limits between writing and spoken languages. In the description of spoken discourse the central place is given to the suprasegmental dimension presented by the prosody. But the question is how to act in case of the absence of any prosodic elements (due to the graphical nature of the SMS language). It is commonly known that the punctuation which in writing language plays the role of suprasegmental is not graphical equivalent of prosodic phenomena.

“The punctuation was born in the necessity to adapt the graphic form to the spoken language, to fix in writing segmental division of spoken language, marked by the prosody.  This correspondence between the syntactic units of the spoken language and the written code is disturbed by the evolution of the language that is not accompanied by the development of two forms. […] The interpretation of punctuation as a means to mark in the writing the intonation, appears therefore inadequate: the relationship between the punctuation and the intonation reflects the difference in the “organization” of speech and writing as well as different use of linguistic means. Both the intonation and the punctuation are used to form the phrase, thus they are close from functional viewpoint but they differ on the means of performing this function[…]” (Védénina 1989:137−138).

More complex are cases, where there is no punctuation at all, as in the following example (The examples are transcribed as they appear in the corpus, with orthographic or typographic errors/adaptations.):

(1) moi je pet le faire aujourdhuicongé yes :)) ‘I can do it today holiday yes :))’


Depending on where we insert comma – before or after “aujourd'hui” ‘today’ – the entire sense of phrase changes.

From functional point of view, “the purpose of syntax is to make evident by what means the relationships between the elements of an experience can be marked in a succession of linguistic units so that the receiver can reconstruct this experience” (Martinet 2000: 404).

The role of intonation and other paralinguistic features in spoken discourse is often decisive in the analysis of the structure of information (Hazaël-Massieux 1993; Martinet 1985). As electronic discourse can be considered a ‘written oral language’ (Anis 1998), paralinguistic adaptations, presented generally by non-standard typographic phenomena – graphical stretching, non-standard punctuation and emoticons – often play the role of syntactic markers.



2. Corpus

The research corpus covers 258 French text messages collected with anonym questionnaire around the year2009. After providing their age, gender and profession informants were asked to copy three SMS from their mobile phones into the questionnaire. The questionnaires with special cover letter were sent via e-mail to the addresses collected in social sites. We have moved from the collected data publicity messages, messages written by non-native French speakers and messages written in other languages. In this way we have designed a corpus of 258 French short messages written by native French speakers which age varies from 14 to 35.



3. Results

Studies about SMS communication show that the main objective of non-standard typographic elements is time and space saving and language identity (Anis 2001; Amaghlobeli 2011; Bieswanger 2007; Döring 2002; Ling 2005; Thurlow−Brown 2003). But in this paper we will concentrate on the syntactic functions of the non-traditional typography that is less studied. Especially three typographic adaptations – graphical stretching, non-standard punctuation and emoticons – will be considered as syntactic markers.



3.1. Graphical stretching

We can define “graphical stretching” as the repetition of letters in the words. Stretching is generally used to express strong emotion or scream in the internet or SMS communication. Consider the example (2):

(2) Jojo mon amiii comment tu vas mon grand? ‘Jojo my friend how are you my old?’


In the example (2) graphical stretching can be viewed as structural marker as, from visuographical viewpoint, it separates two parts of the enunciation. Structurally here can be observed parallelism between pre- and post-rhematic syntagms – “monamiii” (my friend) and “mon grand” (my old) – although there is no further punctuation between them.

Most frequent are cases when graphical stretching has vocative function as in the message (3):

(3) Mamiii t tumorte?? Mami are you dead??’


Based on the data, when the lateral letter of the latest word is stretched, final punctuation in the message is absent. Therefore the non-traditional typography performs the function of punctuation mark and plays structural role (4).

(4) Wow, ilneige déjà cematin, c’estchouuu’ ‘Wow, it snows already this morning, it is   cool’

(5) J’airien compris aide moii ‘I did not understand help me’



3.2. Non-standard punctuation

In the example (6) and (7) an ellipsis separates the preamble from the rheme. The most interesting in the example (6) is a segmental post-rheme “je vois”. Between “les relations entre vous” and “je vois” there is no demarcation as it can be seen as redundant. In the given syntactic chain succeeding elements – “vous” and “je” – cannot be in the same syntactic level (as for example, pronominal arguments of the same verb) as there is a preposition “entre”, which makes demarcation between these pronouns.

(6) cam ah voui... toujour saussi affectionnees les relations entre vous je vois ‘cam oh yes… There are still strong feelings between you I see’

(7) Salut Marie… comment va? ‘Hi Marie… how are you?’


The repetition of punctuation marks is frequent in the end of the enunciation and performs both structural and emotive function (3, 8):

(8) t tro s1pa t un meuf genial !! ‘you’re very nice you’re a great man!!’



3.3. Emoticons

Comparing to the graphical stretchingand non-standard punctuation, emoticons are more frequent in our corpus and their syntactic role is more evident. Consider some examples of different positions emoticons can take in the syntactic chain. Emoticons most often appear at the end of a sentence, either with or in place of standard sentence-final punctuation marks. In this position, emoticons often replace periods (9,10) and sometimes exclamation marks (11), but never question marks (11, 12):

(9) L vi1 après souper ;) ’she arrives in the evening’

(10) jaime la vi et toiméune vie sans toi je nypense meme taime :*) ‘I love the life and you but life with you I can’t imagine… I love you :*)‘

(11) Merci :) [Place of exclamation mark] D’accord pour 11 h? :-) ‘Thanks :) do you agree to meet at 11? :-)‘


(12) Hi,ComenVaTuTreUmblAmi ? ;) ‘Hi, how are you my good friend? ;)‘


In many cases, emoticons appear in the medial position. An interesting question is whether emoticons in this position are related to other structural markers.

(13) Coucou Jojo:) Cava? Pourquoi ne m’ecris pas? ‘Hi Jojo :) how are you? Why don‘t you write to me?‘


In the example (13), an emoticon with a relatively neutral emotive color is connected to the salutation. It is positioned after the greeting and serves as a politeness indicator. In addition, the emoticon performs the role of punctuation mark, which is absent.

(14) Slt :-( cava pa bien  :(( ‘Hi :( I am not very well :(( ‘


The example (14) contains a more salient emotive emoticon, ‘:(,’ which is unrelated to the salutation emoticon and expresses disappointment, areal emotion. Therefore, the message has to be understood in the following manner:

14a) “Hi”

14b) “:( I am not very well :-((”


The emoticon’s function as punctuation is also evident: a smiley in the intermediate position not only marks the end of the first segment but also introduces the second one. In the examples cited above, the emoticons serve as single structural markers. However, the message below presents an example of double marking:

(15) moi?:) je l’aiaimeebien.:) ‘me? I liked her very much.:) ‘


In the example (15) the structural function is performed by both emoticons and punctuation marks.

Interestingly enough, the message below (16) starts with a smiley:

(16) :) oui, une bonne soirée. Tuveuxvoir des photos ? Je suis bon photographetusais ;) ‘:) Yes it was a very cool party. Do you want to view photos? You know I am a good   photographer ;)‘


It is evident that in this case, the smiley presents an emotive answer to a previous message. The smiley is followed by a verbal answer. The sentence “:) Yes, it was very cool.” consists of two segments: an emoticon and a verbal message.

Sometimes the position of the emoticon is decisive when interpreting the content, for example, consider two messages:

(17) solo je vais pas aussi loin;) avec toi c kantuveuxtoutesfacons t sais bien! ‘I am not going away ;) with you it is when you want you know! ‘

(18) macamille merci encore toi;) cava? ‘My Camille thank you again to you ;) how are you?’


As said before in the two messages (17, 18) the position of the emoticon plays decisive role in the interpretation of the content that can be illustrated by change of place of the smiley:

(17) jevais pas aussi loin avec toi ;) c kantuveuxtoutesfacons t sais bien! ‘I am not going away with you ;) it is when you want you know! ‘

(18) ma camille merci encore ;) to ica va? ‘My Camille thanks again :) and you how are you?’


The syntactic function of emoticons becomes more evident when emoticons serve the purpose of an entire message, as in the example below (19):

(19)A – encormal, po pa alleravctoi. :( ‘- I am still ill and can‘t come with you :(‘

B - :((


The most salient case of emoticons syntactic role is their verbal use (Amaghlobeli 2012). It means using an emoticon instead of a word or a phrase. Our research corpus contains only four examples of verbally used emoticons.

(20) Je t’aime et je veuxte :-*) ‘I love you and I want you to :-*)’ (kiss)

(21) Je tedja di, :-Q e mal pr la sante;) ‘I have already told you, ;-Q (smoking) is damaging for the health;)‘


In these two examples, emoticons are used as verbs. They can also replace nouns and adjectives.

(22) Voici, c’est por toi :===@ ‘Here is for you :===@ ‘(a rose)

(23) Je suis tres>:( ‘I am very >:( ‘ (Angry)


Finally, after analyzing structural role of emoticons, we can conclude that placed at the end of the sentence the smiley is usually associated with a strong punctuation (with exclamation or question marks) or acts alone as a punctuation mark. In this case it is a post-rhematic element with punctuation function.

In the intermediate position the emoticon is placed at the end of the preamble or between the first and second sentences and performs alone structural function.



4. Conclusion

The analysis of potential structural role of non-standard typography in SMS discourse has shown that they can perform the role of syntactic markers with (or without) traditional resources of syntactic organization (as punctuation). Despite of the limited characters (160 characters per message) non-standard typography is frequently used that requires more effort and time. Therefore we can conclude that compared to the technological limitation, the priority is given to the interpersonal relationship and users often use unconventional syntactic resources to provide the effect of informal spoken communication.



Amaghlobeli, Natia 2011: Orthographic Variation in French Short Textual Discourse. Spekali 4. [25. 12. 2012]

Amaghlobeli, Natia 2012: Linguistic Features of Typographic Emoticons in SMS Discourse.Theory and Practice in Language Studies 2/2, 348−354.

Anis, Jacque1998: Texte et ordinateur: écritureré inventée? Bruxelles: De Boeck Université.

Anis, Jacque 2001: Parlez-vous texto? Guide des nouveaux langages du réseau. Le cherche-midi éditeur.

Bieswanger, Markus 2007: 2 abbrevi8 or not 2 abbrevi8: A Contrastive Analysis of Different Space- and Time-Saving Strategies in English and German Text Messages. Taryne Hallett − Simeon Floyd – Sae Oshima − Aaron Shield (eds): Texas Linguistic Forum Vol. 50. Austin: Texas Linguistic Forum. [25. 12. 2012]

Davis, Boyd− Brewer, Jeutonne 1997: Electronic discourse: linguistic individuals in virtual space. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Döring, Nicola 2002, Kurzm wird gesendet – Abkürzungen und Akronyme in der SMS-Kommunikation. Muttersprache. Vierteljahresschrift für Deutsche Sprache 112/2, 97−114. [25. 12. 2012]

Ferrara, Kathleen − Brunner,Hans − Whittemore, Greg1990: Interactive Written Discourse as an Emergent Register. In: Written Communication 8, 8−34.

Hazaël-Massieux, Marie-Christine 1993 : Ecrire en créole. Oralité et écriture aux Antilles. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Ling, Richard 2005: The socio-linguistics of SMS: An analysis of SMS use by a random sample of Norwegians. In: Ling, Richard – Pedersen, Per (eds): Mobile communications: Renegotiation of the social sphere. London: Springer, 335–349.

Marcoccia, Michel − Gauducheau, Nadia 2007: L’analyse de roles des smileys en production et en recéption: un retour sur la question de l’oralité des écritsnumériques. GLOTTOPOL. Revue de sociolinguistique en ligne 10, juillet.

Martinet, Andre 2000 : La syntaxe de l’oral. La linguistique 36, 401−410.

Thurlow, Crispin – Brown, Alex 2003: Generation Txt? Exposing the sociolinguistics of young people text-messaging. Discourse Analysis Online. [25. 12. 2012]

Tornow, Joan 1997: Link/age: Composing in the on-line classroom. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Védénina, Ludmila 1989: Pértinence linguistique de la présentation typographique. Paris: Peeters/Selaf.



[Lektorálta: Veszelszki Ágnes]