Internet Chat Communication

A Tightrope Walk Between Oral Communication and Written Communication

Term Paper 2005 9 Pages

Didactics - English - Miscellaneous


Internet Chat Communication


A Tightrope Walk Between Oral Communication and Written Communication

1 Introduction

Due to the fact that the number of Internet users worldwide has grown at 146.2% within the last five years from 2000 to 2005, the Internet itself has become one of the most important and essential kinds of modern media we can imagine these days - at least in the industrialised countries[1]. Recent research statistics from the 31st of March 2005 show that there are currently 888,681,131 Internet users all over the world, which constitutes 13.9% of the whole world population[2]. The main reason why the Internet has established such a prominent position in the world of media is because it covers a wide-ranging field of interests such as news, career, spare time activities, and communication. Since human beings are primarily characterised by an intrinsic urge to communicate with one another, it is no wonder that the invention of the Internet has brought up various forms of computer mediated communication (CMC). One of the most popular and favoured forms of CMC is Internet Chat because it is said to be so close to face-to-face communication like no other kind of mediated communication.

In the following section, this report will first give some brief background information about Internet Chat; then it will investigate the general structure pattern of chat conversations; and finally, it will analyse the relationship between verbal and nonverbal language aspects of chat communication in order to find out whether Internet Chat can really be regarded as a written form of oral communication which integrates oral components into graphical constructions of utterances (Schmidt 2000 : 126).

2 Internet Chat and essential background information

2.1 What is Internet Chat and how can it be accessed?

While communication services like e-mail and online news are delayed forms of CMC, Internet Chat is a text-based form of online communication which occurs in real time. Participants are spatially distant and communicate by typing messages with keyboards on their computer monitors. Since the computers of all participants are connected with each other by a certain chat server, a virtual room[3] for conversation is created, and the messages can be easily and immediately displayed on the monitor of every participant who is connected to the

same chat server. The interaction between the participants happens directly, synchronously, and reciprocally, and it is realised in written rather than in spoken form (Bader 2002 : 38).

In order to access Internet Chat, people need to enter a nickname[4] and a password beforehand. This process is also called login among chat users. Once the login is successful, chat users have the opportunity to enter a chat room/channel, and they can start to write messages. By pushing the Enter button on a keyboard, these messages are immediately sent to a chat server, which allows the messages to be displayed in a certain chat room/channel, so that the messages are visible for every chat user who has entered the same chat room/channel. At the beginning of every message, the author’s nickname is graphically marked in order to let the other participants know where the message comes from. Although the procedure of login and chat communication is identical, there are two different types of Internet Chat which can be distinguished: Internet Relay Chat and Web Chat.

2.2 Internet Relay Chat

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was originally the first service provided for instant communication over the Internet, but, however, it is not a part of the World Wide Web. It was invented by a Finnish student named Jarkko Oikarinen in 1988 “and was originally intended to work as a better substitute for ‘talk’ on his bulletin board.” (Hentschel 1998 : 1). In order to access an IRC network, which allows chat users to enter different channels, users need to download certain software. As all IRC networks are connected with each other, it is also possible to chat with people who have signed on to another IRC network. Altogether, there are approximately 800 to 1,000 networks, but EFNet, IRCNet, GamesNet, and Undernet are the most popular IRC networks since these networks have an average of more than 10,000 users per day[5]. Nowadays, IRC is still used very frequently in discussion forums, but it also allows one-to-one communication.


[1] Source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (Accessed 13.07.2005)

[2] Source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (Accessed 13.07.2005)

[3] These virtual rooms can either be called chat rooms or channels, depending on which type of chat you are in. In most cases, chat rooms or channels are distinguished by different topics such as sports, news, or eroticism.

[4] A nickname is a pseudonym which can be chosen individually by each participant. These pseudonyms are usually derived from several areas like comic, film, and computer. Mostly, nicknames serve to establish imaginative identities, but they can also refer to one’s real life identity.

[5] Source: http://irchelp.org/irchelp/networks/popular.html (Accessed 13.07.2005)


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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403 KB
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Institution / College
Free University of Berlin – Sprachenzentrum
Internet Chat Internet Chat Communication

Title: Internet Chat Communication