Protean communication: The language of computer-mediated communication

Denise E. Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    92 Citations (Scopus)


    Computer-mediated communication (CMC), which began in proprietary companies two decades ago, has developed into a worldwide medium of communication that ESOL learners encounter inside and outside the classroom. Because learners' participation in CMC is likely to increase in the coming years, it is important for TESOL professionals to understand the norms of language use developed by CMC-based speech communities. Research has found that CMC exhibits features of simplified registers associated with both oral and written language. It also exhibits its own norms for organizing conversation and accommodating threads of discourse. CMC, however, cannot be studied as a neutral linguistic phenomenon; instead, researchers and educators need to examine how CMC influences the dominance of English, access to knowledge and power, and equity in discourse. Distance learning, an application of CMC that has begun and will continue to serve a role in English language teaching and in ESOL teacher education, is an area in which these issues are relevant. CMC should be viewed not in terms of its functionality but in terms of the ways in which users shape a new medium of communication to fit the needs of their speech community.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-421
    Number of pages25
    JournalTESOL Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2000


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