Internet Chat Environments Students Information Technology Essay

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Since the dawn of time, communication has existed where humankind is allowed to grow, expand, and flourish through social networks. Social networking site like Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, and others are sprouting out like mushrooms after a rainy day in today's world.

In Internet Chat environments, students begin to use internet language also known as net lingo or net speak, which is "the words, idioms, and peculiarities of spelling and grammar that are characteristic of online documents and communications" ( McFedries) which will jeopardize both their usage of both the written and spoken English language. As stated by Kho Chung Wei's research The Impact of Using Net Lingo in Computer-Mediated Communication on Off-line Writing Tasks (pg 11, 2007), net lingo or net speak has an impact on students' off-line writing tasks. The results of his correlational and t-tests analyses shows that it is more likely that net speak or net lingo will appear in a student's off-line writing (or academic writing) when the student frequently uses net lingo.


Boyd and Ellison (p2, 2007) defines social networking as web-based services that show a list of users that show their connections list within the system, and in an enclosed system that allows the creation of an open or semi-public profile. However, these connections categorization may differ from site to site.

As useful as it maybe in communicating individuals throughout the world, social networking has its own disadvantages, especially when it comes to language use. There have been many criticisms and complain - in which popular social networking such as Facebook and Myspace - are ruining the proper use of the English language, especially through the 'chat' medium. Shaw (pg 1, 2007) stated that people say 'jay kay' to mean 'just kidding,' and 'barb' as to mean 'be right back' in informal conversation by following the standard way of conversing online that are being use widely. Her study can be supported by another research by Wang Wei, Yu Xian-hai, and Qu Jiang-li (pg 4, 2008) where they reported that amid Chinese youths, especially college students, in their daily conversations with friends, classmates, as well as roommates, they use net speak in order to make their conversation more lively and interesting.


This research is done in order to study the influences of net speak to the English language by internet users especially in chat rooms. Wang Wei, Yu Xian-hai, and Qu Jiang-li (pg 1, 2008) said that computer-mediated-communication (CMC) or net speak that is used in many situations - especially in e-mails, synchronous chat and forums - is a form of language diversity exclusive to the internet.

This study is made in order to study the positive influences of net speak to the English language since there have been many studies opposing to these good effects. Indeed, as stated by Chien, (cited by Shaw, p4, 2007) through an article written by Jennifer Lee, shows that an increasing number of young children have difficulty in distinguishing net speak and academic languages. However, Crystal (p4, 2001) said that net speak is an authentic "third medium" where it is the new revolution of language - the computer-mediated language that helps people to communicate faster in a world where there are no differences in timeline.


The improper use of the English language or net lingo use in the chat rooms conducted in social networks, is a worth pursuing subject even though there has already been many research done on the subject. Not many people today realize the consequences of frequently using net speak. As stated by Shaw (p1, 2004), Net speak is seen in an unfavorable light, usually referring to the sporadic use of punctuation, frequent use of abbreviations and acronyms, misspellings, and the shortness of full, complete sentence structure. By using net speak regularly, it may impact students' performance in formal writing.

In the internet, there exists more than one language; be it our own native language, the lingua franca of the web: English, and other foreign languages. When we are in the internet, we tend to use code switching, mixing the languages that we know to send our messages to our friends that know what we are talking about. As an example: "Have u seen my kitty? It's very kawaii~!" In this sentence, 'kawaii' is the Japanese term for 'cute'. In Malaysia, not many people will code switch the second and third language. Mostly people will code switch their native language with their second language.


This research study will address the following research questions in answering the problems that have been introduced.

What are the common mistakes that students do while participating in online chat activities?

What are some net speak habits that can influence formal writing performances?

The rationale for looking into the common mistakes that students make is to see how the impacts of net speak can be reduce in formal writing. The most common mistakes are grammar and spelling mistakes; where undergraduates tend to spell words wrongly due to the common use of abbreviations and net speak, forgetting the original spelling. When they are using code switching, students tend to mix up the different grammars that they know, feeling confuse with which grammar is actually appropriate for the different languages in formal writing. Some of the net speak habits are the use of abbreviations and net slang, like abbreviations and short forms.


The study on the impact of frequent use of net speak towards formal English writing is done in order to identify why some people tend to use net speak in formal academic writing and whether chatting really influences the wrong use of the English language. With the Internet becoming more and more involve in humans' world nowadays, the impact of frequent use of net speak towards the English language will become more critical.


Below will be the scope of the study:

The subjects of the study will be undergraduate students of MARA University of Technology and will be in the range of 100 to 150 students that come from different faculties.


Chat room: The Oxford Advance Learner's Dictionary defines chat room as an area on the Internet where people can communicate with each other, usually about one particular topic. Some of them are in Facebook application and stand alone application like Yahoo Messenger (YM).

Influences: Oxford Dictionary also defines influence as the effect that something has on the way a person thinks or behaves.

Net speak: As stated by McFedries, net speak is "the words, idioms, and peculiarities of spelling and grammar that are characteristic of online documents and communication." This includes abbreviations and slangs.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC): Wikipedia wrote that IRC is a type of real-time chat. It is mainly intended for group interaction in the form of discussion. It also allows one-to-one communication through the use of private message in addition to chat and information transfer by means of Direct Client-to-Client.

Friendster: Friendster is a privately owned social networking website with its headquarters in Sydney, Australia. The service let users to contact other members, maintain these contacts, and share online contents and media with them. It is also used for dating and discovering new events, bands, and hobbies where users may share videos, photos, messages and comments with other members via their profile and their network as stated by Wikipedia.

Facebook: Facebook is a social networking website launched in February 2004 that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc., with more than 500 million active users in July 2010. Users can add people as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by workplace, school, or college. The website's name stems from the colloquial name of books given to students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in the US with the intention of helping students to get to know each other better. Facebook allows anyone who declares themselves to be aged 13 or older to become a member of the website.



The review of the related literature for this study is organized as follows:

Social networking: What is social networking? What is the purpose of social networking? What are some examples of social networking?

Online chat: What is online chat? What is the purpose of using online chat?

Net speak: What is net speak? What are some examples of net speak? Which Internet application uses net speak?

Code Switching: What is code switching? What is the purpose of code switching? What are some examples of code switching?

Formal Writing: What is formal writing? What are some examples of formal writing?

The paper is organized in this order so that the reader can understand some of the perspectives and theories towards influences of net speak through the online chat medium.


What is social network?

Boyd and Ellison (p2, 2007) defines social networking as web-based services that show a list of users that show their connections list within the system, and in an enclosed system that allows the creation of an open or semi-public profile. However, these connections categorization may differ from site to site.

According to TechTerms, social networking started in the early 2000s, when the web became more personal in which people can post their own content on the Web and has a sense of community.

What is the purpose of social networking?

The purpose of social networking is basically a leisure pastime activity. However, now it has expanded to be a social community where people use it for personal, business, and learning pleasures throughout the world.

What are some examples of social networking?

Some examples for social networking sites on the Internet are popular sites such as Facebook, MySpace, or Linkedln. Conversely, there are other social networking sites such as blogs and discussion forum sites like Blogger or LiveJournal; wikis; online games such as the popular paid online game - SecondLife, and free online games such as Rune Scape and Ragnarok Online International Edition; and web rings.


What is online chat?

Online chat is a synchronous activity. According to Ince (2001) synchronous communication is a diffusion of information where each character of data sent is decided by the period of previous character.

wordiQ defines online chat as instant messaging applications, which is basically computer programs that enable two-way typing to connect users to each other. However, most online services rely more on HTTP-based protocols which are called a chat room or chat. Some chat rooms do not require users to install additional chat software and often have friend finders build in.

The Unix talk facility was probably the earliest online chat system widely used while French Minitel was likely the earliest one in general use. CompuServe and D Dial servers made online chat available during the 1980s, with GEnie later on. However, the de-facto standard for online chat is Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which was developed in 1988.

What is the purpose of using online chat?

(Wikipedia, 2009) The word chat which means "informal conversation" is the root for the expression online chat. Online chat refers to one-on-one or text-based group chat, which is formally known as synchronous conferencing. It uses tools such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC), talkers, and instant messengers such as Yahoo Messenger.


What is net speak?

Computer-mediated-communication (CMC) is another name for net speak, is a type of language diversity unique to the Internet. It can be seen in many situations namely in chat rooms, virtual worlds or game, e-mails, and World Wide Web (www).

What are some examples of net speak?

Some examples of net speak can be seen where a whole perfect sentence becomes a mix of letters, like ROTFL - Rolling On The Floor Laughing, MYOB - Mind Your Own Business, and others. Even in verbal conversations, people say "jay kay" to mean "just kidding," and "barb" to mean "be right back."

These are some of the most common use of net speak:




Oh My God!


I See


Laugh Out Loud


By The Way

Table 1: Common Net Speak expressions, adapted from Jansen.


What is code switching?

According to Heredia and Brown, code-switching occurs when bilinguals uses other languages (second or third language) to change a word or phrase from one language (mostly native language).

Coffey, H. stated that code-switching is "the practice of moving between variations of languages in different contexts." She also wrote that depending on the context and content, speakers can code-switch. Code-switching is also defined as "the practice of witching between a primary and a secondary language or discourse" in the educational context.

What is the purpose of code switching?

Code-switching has been viewed as a strategy to recompense for low language proficiency. This theory's premise is that, bilingual's code-switch since they do not know both languages completely. It is also known as semi-linguism, which emphasize that bilinguals "almost" speak or write both languages correctly. (Heredia, R. and Brown, J.)

(Belazi, 1992 as cited by Usha Agnetha Ong, 2008) Another purpose of code-switching is when a person finds the inability to express themselves in one language. Another reason for code-switching is also because of language limitations as in the Arab language, especially when one discuss technical topics.

(Crystal, 1987) A different purpose for code-switching is when a certain amount of people wish to exclude others who do not speak the second language from the conversation, creating a Gumperz's (1982) we-they code. It can also be use to express solidarity with a particular social group.

What are some examples of code switching?

Some examples of code-switching are:

'I want a motorcycle VERDE' (Spanish) meaning I want a green motorcycle.

Then we will ronda-ronda kat London and watch Anastasia, a new Disney movie. Lepas tu I ikut dia balik Croydon (where they live). This way, aku taklah terkial-kial finds my way to their place. (The writer is describing what she will do in London).


What is formal writing?

(Bednar, J., 2008) Formal writing is "used in academic writing and scientific settings whenever you want to convey your ideas to a wide audience, with many possible backgrounds and assumptions." Formal writing needs to be clear, unambiguous, literal, and well structured, unlike casual conversation or emails to friends.

What are some examples of formal writing?

Example 1:

"It will be argued that the benefits of immigration outweigh the disadvantages. "

in preference to:

"I will argue in this essay that... "

Example 2:

"Excessive television viewing may be a contributing cause of some cases of reading problems in childhood. "

instead of:

"Television viewing causes reading problems in childhood."



There are three problems that this research study intends to address. They are:

To investigate the common mistakes that students pick up due to their active participation in chat room activities.

To determine some of the net speak influences that can impact formal writing performances.

To determine when and where do students usually make spelling and grammar error during chatting.


Research Design

A descriptive design using a survey instrument will be administered in this study. A set of questionnaire will be designed for this purpose. The questionnaire will be compose of questions seeking information regarding students' use of net speak.

The software and programmes for this study are:

Social networking site such as Facebook, Tagged and Myspace.

Yahoo Messenger (YM) software for chat rooms.


The samples of the study will be undergraduate students of MARA University of Technology from a few faculties like Law, Business, Applied Language Studies, Engineering, and Medical. The total number of students from each faculty will be 30, making the total number to 150 students.


In this study, a descriptive analysis will be done in order to analyze the influences of net speak towards students' English language through distribution of questionnaires. A statistical analysis will also be added.


Firstly, a set of questionnaire will be developed from the most frequently asked questions on net speak that can be found on journal articles and the web pages on the internet. A pilot test will be conducted towards a few semester six students of Applied Language Studies. The pilot test is estimated to be done in five days time. After doing the necessary corrections, the next batch of questionnaires will be given out to different faculties in the duration of two to three days. The questionnaires will be collected after a day from the time the questionnaires are given.


The questionnaire will then be collected after two days of distribution in order to avoid misplaced questionnaires by the subjects. The raw data will then be organized accordingly to the questions in the questionnaires through the use of Microsoft Excel programme. After analyzing the data, a statistical analysis will be done and a bar chart will be created base on the results of the questionnaires.