Writing in Portuguese chats :)

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This paper aims at determining the relationship between writing in chats and features from different writing systems. Although net users do not realise it, they recreate features mainly from morphographic systems and consonantal scripts and, consequently, they seem to be searching for a more economical way of conveying meaning through writing. When carrying out a corpus-based study, involving 90 minutes of real-time conversations in a Portuguese chat programme, we observed tendencies concerning spelling changes: the syllable onset is usually preserved, which resembles consonantal scripts; the number of syllables is frequently maintained, in common with syllabaries; the use of emoticons reminds us of morphographic systems, and spelling words as they are heard imitates phonemically transparent orthographies. This paper aims to reflect on the phenomenon that net users unconsciously recreate features which make spelling more efficient. Tracing the deviations occuring in chats may be seen as a way of accessing the speakers’ intuitive knowledge. Keywords: chat; writing system; spelling; deviation; syllable; corpus study; Portuguese


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