Analysis of Synchronicity Discernment in Text Conversations




Kim, Esther

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One of the fundamental differences between spoken and written conversation is that synchronicity is optional in written conversations. In other words, while spoken conversations must proceed continuously in real time, written conversations may proceed periodically if chosen to be so by the interlocutors. Other crucial differences such as lack of paralinguistic cues (e.g. body language, tone, rate of speech) in textual communication change the construction of expectations in conversations among the interlocutors compared to conventional oral conversation. In conversations where the expectation of synchronicity has not been clearly established, texters implicitly discern whether a conversation is meant to be synchronous or asynchronous. This thesis analyzes sets of text message conversations using the conversation analysis approach to examine the ways in which the texters strategically judge the synchronicity of the conversation. While the success of the discernment was evaluated in terms of Burgoon and Hale’s Expectation Violation Theory (1988) and Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory (1987), the main factors of contribution to the discernment showed to be the urgency, goal, and spontaneity of the conversation.



Text conversation., Synchronicity., Conversation analysis., Face theory., Text messaging.