Sociolinguistic variation in French computer-mediated communication
A variable rule analysis of the negative particle ne
The analysis in the present study examines the variable use of ne in 2,459 tokens of verbal negation from a corpus of electronic French discourse including moderated chat, non-moderated chat, and discussion fora. These data from computer-mediated communication (CMC) environments were analyzed in order to demonstrate that although both non-moderated and moderated chat are essentially synchronous (i.e. involving real-time interaction), they are on opposite ends of a continuum of French sociolinguistic variation. In non-moderated chat, which is clearly less formal, ne is used productively as a discursive-pragmatic marker. However, in moderated chat, which resembles more formal written French discourse, ne deletion rarely occurs. Although discussion fora are somewhere between the two types of chat on the continuum of sociolinguistic variation, there is a clear tendency for them to be slightly closer to the formal/written side, yet this mode of CMC displays the greatest amount of mode-internal variation.
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