Dancing and ranting in the chat room: synthesizing orality and literacy




Huddleston, Cecelia Lynn

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In the last decade, the technological development of real time online communication via a personal computer and a modern has created a discourse environment that is witnessing rapid changes and mutations in language usage. Synchronous conversation spaces such as Internet relay chat rooms and MOOs are contributing to the development of a new expressive form of language in literate societies. These virtual conversation spaces are textual, yet the text that is produced there is perceived by the interlocutors, the room members, characters, or chatters, as talking. The purpose of this study is to reveal how interlocutors in synchronous conversation spaces are morphing the language usage code for standard written prose and synthesizing it with the usage code for conversational oral communication.

In synchronous conversation spaces the text transcends the traditional logical structure of writing and mutates itself into the structure of speaking. Since the written texts between two or more writers are actually conversing with each other, it becomes a conversation. The text is talking. In this context of textual give and take, the spoken and written languages of the literate society morph into one creating a new form that is not altogether oral, nor is it altogether literate; it becomes oraliterate.



Communication and the arts, Language, literature, and linguistics