Graphemic representation of text-messaging: Alphabet-choice and code-switches in Greek SMS

Tereza Spilioti

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the choice of alphabetical encoding in Greek text-messaging (or Short Message Service, SMS). The analysis will be based on a corpus of 447 text-messages exchanged among participants who belong to the age group of ‘youth’ (15-25 years old) and live in Athens (Greece). The data analysis will show that the standard practice of writing with Greek characters represents the norm in Greek SMS. The script norm will be discussed in relation to the medium’s technological affordances and the participants’ stance towards new media. The analysis will then focus on non-standard graphemic choices, such as the use of both, Greek and Roman, alphabets in the encoding of single messages. It will be demonstrated that such marked choices are employed as a means of indexing the participants’ affiliation with global popular cultures and enhancing expressivity in a medium of reduced paralinguistic cues.

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