The Construction of Away Messages: A Speech Act Analysis
Previous research suggests that “away messages” in instant messaging express informational and entertainment communicative goals while displaying a users’ identity. This study investigated the extent to which these communicative goals are reflected in the language structure of away messages, by examining the speech acts performed through the production of 483 away messages crafted by 44 participants. The messages were also analyzed for the use of non-standard orthography and humor. The results show that the messages were constructed primarily with assertives, followed by expressives and commissives, but rarely with directives, confirming that away messages tend to reflect both informational and entertainment goals. Non-standard orthography and humor were also common, although experienced participants used fewer non-standard forms than less experienced participants. These findings are discussed in terms of computer-mediated discourse and online self-presentation.