Magazine article English Drama Media

The Discourse of Text Messaging

Magazine article English Drama Media

The Discourse of Text Messaging

Article excerpt

The Discourse of Text Messaging

Caroline Tagg

Continuum, 2012, 24.99 [pounds sterling]

ISBN 9781441173768

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Twenty years after Cor Stutterheim invented text messaging, and over ten years after SMS in the UK diffused from the initial base of its early adoption by adolescents and young adults to mundane ubiquity, Caroline Tagg has written a book which at last nails down what is going on in txting interaction, as seen from the perspective of applied linguists. Based on the empirical evidence of over 11,000 messages, or over 200,000 words, she collected and analysed for her doctoral thesis (http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/253/1/Tagg09PhD.pdf), Tagg situates her approach in major emerging fields of scholarly enquiry including corpus linguistics, language play in everyday creativity, identity and its performance, the 'grammar of talk' (e.g. Carter, McCarthy), and sociocultural approaches to spelling (e.g. Sebba 2007). This in itself would equip a reader with much of what they might want to know about recent developments in the wider field.

In addition, the book gives a first rate overview and critique of empirical studies of text messaging including treatment of publications up to 2012 or still forthcoming. This is helpful given the way the field has developed in the very recent past, for example, in the provision of the publicly accessible text message corpus by Tao Chen and colleagues at the National University of Singapore. Tagg is direct about the limitations of all such research, including her own, pointing out the ways in which collections of text messages, including those of apparently large number, are small by comparison with this ubiquitous global practice; we can only speak for the localised preferences of the groups and messages being sampled. This duly sceptical spirit informs her description of how she went about collecting her own electronic corpus of messages, including guidance about data collection and processing methods which could find a particular audience in GCE A Level students preparing their language investigation fieldwork. …

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