Social class differences in teenage speech remain largely unexplored, while gender has been focused on in quite a lot of sociolinguistic research on adolescent peer group language. The interest in gender differences has also pervaded the research on informal computer-mediated communication (CMC) and more specifically on the online writing practices of adolescents in chat or texting media, but then again, the link with social class is generally absent. Yet some studies (though not on CMC) suggest that gender differences manifest themselves in different ways in different social class groups. The present research is a first attempt to fill this gap, by focusing on the interaction between social class and gender in Flemish chat language produced by adolescents with a low versus a high level of education. Moreover, we intend to look at a wide range of linguistic phenomena, ranging from the presence of typical vernacular speech features to typical chatspeak features, and from formal text characteristics to discourse- and content-related aspects of the communication. This more holistic approach (compared to previous CMC studies) will not only be realized through a wider a priori selection of features but also through the automatic analysis of style features, i.e. through so-called stylometric analyses. In this way, the present project combines sociolinguistic and computational linguistics expertise.
FWO - Research Foundation Flanders