Article Summary (General remarks).
Rich Ling wrote this article in 2005. It is about research on the sociolinguistic features in the short message system (SMS) as used by a random sample of Norwegians. The article introduces a brief history of SMS and its general usage in Norway. The research objectives in the paper include determining whether SMS is spontaneous or rehearsed communication, and how the desire to communicate overcame the technological limits of SMS.
In this article, the researcher examines 882 SMS messages from a random sample of Norwegians. These SMS messages were collected in May 2002 by telephone. The researcher requested demographic data from each of the respondents, as well as the last 3 SMS messages sent. However, only 463 (23%) of the respondents managed to provide the SMS messages that were requested by the researcher. 40% of women in the survey sent at least one SMS message a day, compared to the 36% of men who did. The women who sent the most messages were in the 16 to 19 age group, with an average of 9.03 messages a day.
The SMS messages were first analysed by the themes they contained, such as coordination, grooming, answers, questions, information, commands or requests, personal news, and diverse other categories. Although grooming was defined as miscellaneous emotional remarks in the analysis of the data, the “diverse other categories” grouping serves a similar function. The most common theme in the messages was coordination, which appeared in 33% of the samples, implying that most users send SMS messages in order to set up meetings or plan events.
Next, the SMS messages were analysed by socio-demographical differences. Gender differences were mentioned in the article. Men were more likely to use one-word replies in their messages and plan activities in the middle future. The middle future was defined as a few days later. Women were likely to send “grooming” type messages and plan activities for the immediate future.
The researcher also analysed the types of words that often appeared in the SMS messages. The most common word used by both men and women was du (you) while other common words included jeg (I), på (on/in/at/to) and i (in/at). In general, prepositions appeared more frequently in the SMS messages studied.
The frequent use of prepositions can be attributed to the role of SMS in coordination of events. Adverbs do not usually show up in the analysed messages due to the character limit, so the messages appear telegraphic in nature. Further analysis of a sample of words shows that women often used more verbs, adjectives and prepositions. In contrast, men tend to use more pronouns and nouns.
Part 2: Statistical details.