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McElhearn, Kirk (1996). »Writing Conversation: An Analysis of Speech Events in E-mail Mailing lists. «. <http:/­/­www.mcelhearn.com/­dis/­cmc.html>.

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Abstract: E-mail is a form of communication whose use is increasing exponentially, as the Internet, and other means of computer-mediated communication (CMC), become more accessible to the general public. Aside from its use in direct interpersonal communication, just as letters, memos, and faxes are used, it is also used for communication among groups that share common interests or goals, through what are known as mailing lists.

Tens of thousands of mailing lists exist, about as many subjects. They give people the opportunity to discuss these subjects using a form of discourse that is relatively new. While this type of CMC is a form of written communication, there are many aspects of e-mail mailing list discourse that are similar to those used in spoken discourse. This has led some researchers to suggest that CMC is a hybrid register.

In this paper, I will discuss how mailing lists function, the different types of mailing lists that exist, and how the type of mailing list can influence the type of discourse that is used on the list. Then I will discuss the different types of speech events that are used on mailing lists. Finally, I will show how those speech events are realized by examining an extended thread from one mailing list.

It will be seen that mailing lists generate three types of speech events, which are the Announcement, the Request for Information, and the Discussion. I will show how these three types of speech events function, and what the differences and similarities are between mailing list speech events and face-to-face communication.


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