February 11, 2009
Women texting express themselves better
Indiana researchers say when men and women text message each other, women who use non-standard language techniques like emoticons.
Indiana University researchers Susan Herring and Asta Zelenkauskaite said when the exchanges occur via text messaging in a public venue -- in this case, Italy's real-time interactive music television channel Allmusic -- it is the women who push their messages closest to the character-count limit, use more abbreviations and insertions and use more emoticons -- like smiling and frowning faces.
In the linguistic marketplace there have always been different values associated with standard and non-standard language, and here we have found results that are paradoxical, that are the opposite of the recognized sociolinguistic gender patterns, Herring said in a statement.
Women have historically used standard language when they are social aspirers, or want to be perceived as above their station -- men talk more; women are more polite.
The study, published in the quarterly journal Written Communication, found women used more non-standard language such as abbreviations or expressive insertions that represented characteristics including enthusiasm, sadness, emphasis and individuality. But while women were both more economical and expressive, they also came closer to maxing out, or did max out, on the 160-character message limit more often than their male counterparts, Herring said.