Specimen Paper: Text message analysis

Text message analysis

Lola’s Texts 

This data was taken out of the specimen paper. Read it and then we can answer some questions on it.

Language and Technology – Text I

The text messages below were copied from the mobile phone of Lola, aged thirteen, over a single day. Natalie and Sarah are school friends and Kate is Lola’s Aunt who works in a clothing store.

NATALIE (to Lola) Hi L, hw r u? Wat did u put in ur xmas card 2 ur French prson? I ant dne it yet :-/ oops! Sofa I av salut ca va n that is it how do u say mery xmas? Tb lv n

LOLA (to Natalie) Lol, thatís so weird, was jst thinking bout tht when u txtd!! I havnt done it either, u wanna go on msn n do it 2getha ther? ñ Lx ps. Merry xmas is joyeux noel!

NATALIE (to Lola) Kk, am like on already wel nearly!

KATE (to Lola) hav asked girls at work 2 look after you! Or Ö Iím back in wed ñ K x

LOLA (to Kate) Thank u! We r goin ther now! L x 🙂

SARAH (to Lola) Do u av maroon 5’s album? Luv s XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

LOLA (to Sarah) Sure do! Do u wanna watch jackass the movie n luv actually 2moz? Lx

SARAH (to Lola) Not lov act. But jackass ya! Cu 2moz! Can we watch stepford wives aswel?! Luv s xx

LOLA (to Sarah) Totally! Y not jst a quick pop in2 town 4 pizza or starbucks ñ i donít hav much money left! Then we can chil @ mine n watch movies 4 ages!! L x

SARAH (to Lola) I don’t av any money so shall we just eat at ur place? i’ll cum round at like 4.30pm luv s xx

Source: Private data

  1. What is the purpose of each exchange? Have the different purposes affected the way texters communicate?

The purpose of all three text strings differs. All three exchanges have a blend of transactional and interactional purposes. The second one between Lola and her aunty is the most transactional. It is clear, direct and has a specific purpose of informing. From the very first lexical item we can gather the purpose ‘hav asked’. The lack of phatic talk makes this clear too. The first one between Lola and Natalie, her school friend is the most interactional. Phatic talk is prominent e.g. ‘hw r u’. However, like the last exchange, the conversation is a hybrid containing transactional elements such as ‘ Wat did u put in…’. 

  1. In each exchange, Lola texts a different recipient. Does this difference affect the language and style of her texts?

The difference does affect the language and style of the way she responds. For instance, when she texts her aunty, whom I presume is older, the text seems more formal in terms of grammatical structure e.g. ‘Thank u!’. Conversely, when she texts her friends we see more alternative styles of language and grammar e.g. ‘Y not jst a pop in2 town 4 pizza…’.

  1. What politeness features are present?

 In all text exchanges we can see politeness employed. In some e.g. exchange two we see politeness markers being employed to do this job e.g. ‘Thank u!’. However, exchange one uses phatic token to denote this politeness e.g.  ‘Hi L, Hw r u?’. This phatic token protects Lola’s negative face when she immediately makes her request (xmas card), revealing the transactional nature of the message. Exchange three on the other hand utilizes positive politeness features as a way of saving face. For example, when Sara initially sends the text, she starts it with a question (revealing transactional nature of message) and then appeals to Lola’s positive face by showing her appreciation for her with a polite and personal sign off ‘Luv s XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx’.

  1. How do the text messages resemble (i) speech (ii) writing?
  1. The exchanges presented are very similar to spoken language. For example, Sarah uses fillers e.g. ‘at like 4.30pm’ which is a common feature of speech. She has done this to make her text sound more informal. It might be that she is just writing every word that come to her mind and as ‘like’ would have been a common feature of spoken language she wrote that down too. However, it could also be politeness strategy – a way of mitigating the transactional nature of the text and making it sound interactional.
  2. However, the exchanges seem to be punctuated correctly, making them similar to written language. For example, ‘Lol, that’s so weird,…’.These commas have been used to indicate a subordinate clause. In this particular text it helps create a particular voice or persona. For example, if it was not written Lola would come across as happy and excited. Text messaging technology use some written language devices to help create a particular voce and make the text distinctive.
  1. Do the texters establish a shared context, or do they assume one?

In the first two sets of messages the texts assume a shared space. We can see this because in the first one they are talking about some kind of French homework and in the second one they are talking discussing about confirming some sort of plan. They assume this shared context because there aren’t explicit details yet they seem to understand what each other are texting hence they are able to respond.

In the third one, the texter establish a shared context. Hence, why the exchange is longer. The shared context is established around the second text where Lola and Sarah begin making plans. The technology has helped make the shared context quickly established. A lot of information is crammed into one text. For example, in the third exchange from Sarah four separate points are expressed. 

  1. What typical features of textspeak occur here (other than those you have already mentioned)?

In all three exchanges, we can see a lot of textspeak being utilized. The most common is vowel omission e.g. ‘luv’, probably because as well as making texts faster, it can be understood by many more people than say initialism. Initialism requires previous knowledge/experience of textspeak. 

In exchange two when Lola talks to her aunty we chooses to use vowel omission as opposed to initialism e.g. ‘ther’. Homophonic representation is similar to vowel omission in that previous experience is not really required to work out what the person has written e.g. In Lola’s text to her aunty she says ‘r’ instead of ‘are’. Similarly variant spelling is present e.g. ‘wel’ (1st exchange) ‘goin’ (2nd exchange) and ‘cum’ (3rd exchange). 

Furthermore, phonetic spelling and homophonic spelling is used. Her aunty too uses this, demonstrating the universality of this textspeak e.g. ‘2’. It also shows that even a transactional conversation is affected by technology!

  1. How do Lola’s text messages help to establish her identity? (Does she express her personality in her texting?)

Lola’s persona and personality are revealed through texting. For example, we get the impression she is a poplar and sociable person because when she texts she signs off in a polite way by the use of symbols such as ‘x’ and acronyms like ‘ly’. Exclamation marks in the context she has used them in make her texts dynamic and come out to life. They represent prosodic features which help the recipient hear a “voice”. This helps her communicate her identity.

7 Tips for data response questions

have been asked to share some of my tips for writing data response economic questions. I hope this helps! 🙂

1) Know how many mark question they are e.g. I know in my Jan exam for the Data response there are 4 question and the marks they hold (4, 12,  8 and 16 marks)

2) Know how the marks are split e.g. in unit three except for the 4 mark one they tend to be 50% analysis and 50% evaluation.

3) Know how to split that further so if evaluation is worth 6 marks know that you can discuss two factors worth 3 marks each or 3 factors worth 2 marks each.

4) Once you know this all you need to do is write down you points whether analysis or evaluation to marks you allocated above.

5) It is good to know this structure off by heart, memorise it and use it for planning big questions in exams

6) In terms of analysis, you are defining key terms, applying economic theories such as theory of PED to the question and drawing diagrams.

7) In evaluation all you are doing is saying whether this is different in the long-run, is this an actual realistic thing, other factors that affect what you said in evaluation, ceteris paribus (is it assumed that all factors are equal), prioritising and justifying points, if for example you are talking at tax or subsidy then you can discuss that it depends on the size of the tax for the effects to happen etc.

Language & Gender: Co-Operation vs Competition

Here are two single-sex groups of fifteen year-olds discussing what they should take with them to a desert island. First why don’t we analyse them.

Group A

wouldn’t you need sunglasses?¹
yeah, that’s what I think
because it would be really² hot and protect yourself from the sun³ and you’d be able to see more
yeah, but if you’re trying to live, does it matter
[ whether you can see
[you can go blind
exactly, but if you’re trying to survive, does it really matter?
(sounding irritated) I wouldn’t
[want to go blind
[it does because if you were blind you wouldn’t be able to see what you were doing and you would end up dying anyway.  You’d have less chance of surviving anyway
yeah, but you’re not likely to go blind unless you’re looking right up at the sun
1= Negative politeness features and use of the negative interrogative 
2= Intensifier
3= Feminine topic 
4= Agreement and feedback to the speaker
5= power violation which is usually associated with males
6 = Showing annoyance 
7 = sarcastic 
8= pseudo agreement perhaps for politeness 
Other factors
The topic is more feminine yet due to the linguistic nature of the text  e.g. the power violations the text is competitive
Group B
( pointing)¹ right, what did you put?
(pointing) what did you put?
I put sunglasses
right, I put the parachute ( gives ;long explanation for choosing it)²
Other voices:
mirror, mirror……the torch
and you could use a gun, couldn’t you? ³You could shoot– 
you could shoot the pilot
right, So has anyone changed their mind?(pointing) what do you think?
I say compass
I think sunglasses are quite important because you have to be able to see what it says on the compass for a start ( laughter from the group)
you could just go loke that ( mimes shading eyes ) shut your eyes for a moment
right. You go (pointing) say why you thought the first aid kit.
1= aggressive use of paralinguistic features
2= Long turn without interruptions on a g male topic
3= Tag question and a rhetorical one 
4= Again a stereotypical male conversation
5 = co-operative interruption 
6 = Similar to a hedge
7 = Good sense of humour 
Other comments
There are more use of paralinguistic features and generally there is more structural cohesion with the use of  adjacency pairs etc.
Can you tell which are the girls and which are the boys?

I believe Group A are girls and Group B are boys because even though women are more stereotypically co-operative and boys are competitive, the topics and features used by Group A are more female and it makes sense to be competitive because they are just 15 in a competitive environment. What do you think?

Scholarly Views on Religious Language

In this post I will summarise the views of five scholars: 
1. Paul Tillich
2. Ludwig Wittgenstein
3. Anthony Flew
4. A J Ayer
5. The collaborative views of the Vienna Circle

1. Paul Tillich

Tillich was an American-German theologian and Christian and probably contributed the most to the debate of the role of symbols and symbolic language within religion.

Tillich said the God was not necessary or contingent, was not ‘a being’ at all but rather God is being and he prefers to call God the ‘Ground of the Being’. Then he asserts that religious allows us to express our ‘ultimate concerns’ which leads us to awakening of a new true reality. For this reason he argues that only symbolic language and symbols can do the Ground of the Being justice and is a credible alternative to analogy. Symbols unlike signs, he points out, communicates a deeper meaning, emotion and beliefs and thus are crucial to religion. In summary, he believes religious language is non-cognitive and symbolic and symbols are the best way to communicate meaning in religious talk.


i. ‘Being’ is a grammatical concept so how can we apply it to a mysterious and transcendent being.

ii. Symbols have many interpretations and how can this be if they have such a deep and powerful message?

iii. If they are more effective then words then why do they become outdated e.g. the Virginal Conception of Jesus is no longer popular among the protestant denominations.

iv. Tillich’s view can be seen as vague and this have provoked thinkers such as J.H.Randall to argue that religious language is like art doesn’t tell us anything about reality but rather about human experience and condition.

v. If they are not literally true then what meaning could they possible have? Furthermore, if the resurrection is interpreted as symbolic then Christianity and its foundations appear to dissipate.

2. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein is probably the most influential and famous philosophers of the 20th century. He was an Austrian and went to school with Hitler. Through inquiry and persistent ended up studying in Cambridge under Bertrand Russell.  He life and most importantly work can be split into two phases.

Phase 1- the Tractatus

It was Wittgenstein’s first book the Tractatus that influenced the logical positivists. He put forward a picture theory of language which was very simple. The theory stated a statement is only meaningful given that it can be defined or pictured in the real world. He concluded his book arguing the ‘Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent’.

Phase 2 – Language Games

Wittgenstein begins by establishing that religious language is not meaningless but rather non-sensical by this he means that because it is difficult to define or picture it, it does not make sense to discuss it – remember ‘Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent’. He then observes that actually metaphysical claims use the same ordinary language but in a ‘odd way’. 

He said confusion on the meaningful/less- ness of religious language only arises because of a confusing when ‘language goes on holiday’. To understand this he formulates this theory of Language Games which asks us to have another closer look at how the language is used. We can use language meaningfully without adhering to any empirical criteria (verification principle) because the true meaning of language is in how we use it. To use this he introduces us to the concept of forms of life.

He said just like we have different sports and each sport has its own rules and language uses so does each form of life. We cannot apply the rules of rugby to basketball, that would be absurd. The same way we cannot apply rules and the beliefs of scientific language to religious language. They are two different things, it is like comparing apples with pears. For believes miracles, the Bible etc are all sufficient evidence for the claims they are making so trying to apply a scientific criteria does not make sense.

– Wittgenstein’s work falls into the trap of Fideism. This is the belief that religion cannot be proven by reason implying it does not have rational foundation and ultimately it is the product of human imagination.

– Wittgenstein may be disproving of certain thing maybe for instance fgm practises then this implies that there is hierarchy of language games to which some are better then other. This gives the opportunity for logical positivists to put science before religion. 

– One cannot assert religious claims such as God exists because these a simply claims which have no external rationality and only make sense to the believer. Keith Ward, uses examples such as God is Three to point out that actually religious claims are the same as anything else making the same point as the big bang created the world hence the theory of language games does not works.

3. Anthony Flew

Flew pointed out that Hick’s idea of religious bliks cannot be true since a blik is not assertion it is a way of perceiving the world and religious claims are assertions as opposed to a perception. 

Flew was influenced by Karl Popper’s distinction between scientific and non-scientific ideas. Popper pointed out that as theories were tested and falsified they were eventually suspended and taken over by new theories e.g. Einstein if you like updated Newton’s work. Flew pointed out that similarly religious claims are ones that can be made false by science and hence are meaningless (Flew does not call them meaningless but other scholars interpret his work like this). He used John Wisdom’s parable of the gardener to explain why religious believers will not accept it.

Furthermore, Flew adds to the debate by suggesting that God ‘dies a thousand qualifications’ and by this he means that like in the parable of the invisible claims when religious claims are questioned they are watered down so much that the claim just becomes  nothing but an expression like ‘ah’. 


– RM Hare disagreed by saying actually religious believes are simply bliks and uses the parable of the lunatic to explain this.

– Mitchell explains that actually believers are aware of all the problems their faith brings but faith does have good ground in reasoning because believers despite the scrutiny continue to believe. Mitchell does agree though that religious claims are assertions and bring a counter example the parable of the solider and stranger to explain his point

– We can also use Hick’s eschatological argument to suggest that the only credible way to falsify religious claims is after death hence they are still meaningful.

4. A J Ayer
A J Ayer addressed the problems that logical positivists at the Vienna circle faced and formulated the weak verification principle. Ayer suggested that actually if in theory we can synthetically, analytically or deductively verify a claim then it meaningful and because one cannot with religious language it is meaningless. Furthermore, they are not ‘significant propositions’ because they can’t be proven to the non-believer and falsified to the believer.

– John Hick presents an eschatological verification method.

– If historic claims are verifiable in theory then so are claims about Jesus.

– Given that the verification principle cannot verify itself Ayer argues that actually the principle can only be used for statements or claims not whole theories – but isn’t religion a theory? Isn’t ‘religious language is meaningless’ a claim?

5. Vienna Circle

The Vienna Circle is a group of philosopher in the early 20th contrary who put together the verification principle (strong). The said that unless a statement is analytically, synthetically or deductively true it is meanings and hence religious language is meaningless.


– It cannot verify itself

– Cannot verify all scientific claims e.g. gravity is constant all over the world

– Too rigid historical statements cannot be verified e.g. facts about the life of Hitler

– Swinburne points out the universal statements cannot be made e.g. ‘all ravens are black’

– Subjective, opinion statements about art etc cannot be made

– Hick’s eschatological argument

Mixed Sex Conversations – Research

Mixed sex conversations
Class Research
What did we do?
Two females and makes were selected to go outside the classroom. Meanwhile our teacher handed us sheets where we ticked what linguistic features we observed.  Then the first male and female speaker was called in and told to have a conversation in front of the class. After monitoring their conversation they were given a sheet to observe the second couples conversation.
What was the point?
We were trying to see which gender uses which features the most.
What were my results?
Female Speaker
Male Speaker
Hedge (sort of, kind of)
Polite form
Tag question (isn’t it?)
Peaking (intonational emphasis)
Question initiator/prompt
//// ////
Swear word
Empty adjective (sweet, lovely)
Intensifier (really, absolutely)
Direct quotation
Specialised vocabulary (descriptions of colour)
High rise terminal (statements sounding like questions)
////  /
Paralinguistic features
Other Observations
*Male speakers tended to have longer turns.
*Male speaker looked more comfortable
Our research showed that even though male speaker had longer turn hence used a range of speaker, it was the women who were initiating and doing everything to keep the conversation going. A phrase quoted by Coates depicts this exactly, women do the ‘conversational shitwork’. They were interrupting and initiating much more.
We then did the same research based on a video.
What did we do?
The mixed sex conversation in this video was analysed in class.
Why did we do this?
We did this to see whether our class results were similar to how gender is represented in this film.
Our findings
Female Speaker
Male speaker
////  //
Power violation
Paralinguistic features
High rise terminal
Eye contact
Empty adjective
Politeness strategy
Stereotype representation
Minimal response
Specialised lexis
As with our class experiment it was the female speaker who seem to be doing the initiating and keeping the conversation going. The difference is, the film used the stereotype ‘women talk more’ and the female speaker was given longer turn to represent this.The peaking/intonation of her voice reflected this to. The male speaker didn’t appear to follow any stereotype (this is my interpretation- I could be wrong), instead he used more politeness markers and strategies than the women which I found interesting because stereotypical men are supposed to be impersonal, impolite and use more swear words. In conclusion, the results were similar just the difference lay in that the film was following certain stereotypes which linguistic such as Cameron believe are false.
What did we do?
We then carried out the same test in respect of a transcript.
Activity – why not see you can analyse the following transcript?
This data has from research conducted by Jennifer Coates.
Female: How’s your paper coming?
Male:     Alright I guess (1) haven’t done much in the last week
Female: Yeah, know how that can ]
Male:                                         ] hey, ya got an extra cigarette
Female: Yeah sure (hand him packet) like my pa]
Male:                                                             How ‘bout a match
Female: Ere ya go uh like my pa]
Male:                                      ] thanks (1.8)
Female: Sure (.) I was gonna tell you my]
Male:                                                  Hey I’d really like to talk but I gotta run(.) see ya
Female: Yeah
My analysis
Female: How’s your paper coming?¹
Male:     Alright I guess (1) haven’t done much in the last week
Female: Yeah, know how that can² ]
Male:                                         ]³ hey, ya got an extra cigarette⁴
Female: Yeah sure⁵ (hand him packet) like my pa⁶]
Male:                                                             How ‘bout a match⁷
Female: Ere ya go uh like my pa⁸]
Male:                                      ] thanks⁹ (1.8)
Female: Sure (.) I was gonna tell you my¹⁰]
Male:                                                  Hey I’d really like to talk but I gotta run (.) see  ya¹¹
Female: Yeah¹²
1 = Initiates conversation
2 = Gives feedback and attempts to develop the conversation – strengthening shared space
3 = Power violation – he shows his dominance
4= completely changes the conversation – there are no politeness strategies used to show that he was listening to what she was saying.
5= Polite
6= Attempts to restart the conversation and develop the shared space
7 =  Similar to a high rise terminal and again dismiss what she is saying with a power violation and attempts to change the conversation from being interactional to transactional. He uses no politeness strategies.
8= Still continues to make the conversation interactional and develop it further
9 = first politeness marker used after being rude
10 = For the fourth time she attempts to develop and maintain the conversation
11 = no closing sequences he just dismisses her and uses valediction. Meta-talks hints what  he is about to do.
12 = back channeling – no valediction or closing sequence or meta -talk
Other comments
I think this transcript clearly is evidence for many of the male stereotypes e.g. being dominant, exercising power and being rude with no politeness strategies utilise. Clearly as this also demonstrates the belief that women do the do the hard work in conversation e.g. keeping it going and maintaining it. Furthermore, I thought it could be that this women is known to talk too much and the male was having a rough and was not in the mood or something like that because that would effect the way they converse. If more information was provided we could come up with more precise answers.


Activity – which speaker has a male listener and which has a female listener?
Compare these two extracts. One has a women listening  to the speaker and one has a man. Can you guess which is which?
Extract 1:
In other words black women are white (2) y’now it’s really a simplistic article (0.5) you know he starts off saying – this- (1) you know (0.8) sort of this gross indiscriminate black versus white (1) vision.
Extract 2:
And this put her into a bit if a flap (mhm) so before she could do anything about this she had to pull forwards (mhm) in order to er open the gates so she took the car out of reverse, put it into first gear (yeah) and pulled forward very gently (yeah).

Extract 1 has a male listener and and extract 2 has a female listener. This can be deduced by examining listener behaviour.
What is the difference in listener behaviour?
The male listener in extract one does not even once support the listener and as a result there are silences and a lot of ‘y’now’ from the speaker in attempt to connect to the listener. The female speaker in extract two supports the listener with a lot of back channeling e.g. ‘mhm’. She uses sympathetic circulatory markers to show she is listening as a result there is less direct language from the speaker and no silences.
Some more linguistic empirical evidence…
There is empirical evidence showing that use more turn-taking violation. The table below shows the daily interaction of seven couples based on Defrancisco.
No response
Delayed response
Inadequate response
Throughout whatever research I conducted, I think Deborah Fishman’s point is correct. Women are the sex that do the ‘conversational shitwork’. As they are the ones always keeping the conversation going.

The Theory of Supply

What is the theory of supply?
At higher prices, a larger quantity will generally be supplied than at lower prices, ceteris paribus (all other thing being constant). So at a lower price a smaller quantity is produced.

This simply describes the upward sloping supply curve. The curve denotes that there is a ‘positive’ or ‘direct’ relationship between price and quantity. As one factor increases so does the other.

But why does this happen?

Suppliers have the incentive of profits, if a crop is doing well they will try and shift supply up so that they can make more profits.
The law of increasing opportunity costs means that as you increases supply of one good you must sacrifice greater and greater amounts of other resources. Therefore, as output increases , costs of producing goods increases thus the supplier must charge higher prices.

The supply curve

A supply schedule is simply a table of data showing the quantity that suppliers plan to supply at each level e.g.

A supply curve is a line which shows the quantity that suppliers plan to supply at each level e.g.:

Notice that as price increases the level of supply increases. (Positive correlation)


The supply can shift left of right if there is a change in the quantity that supplier would supply at every price.

For example in this diagram we can see that the supply shifts to the right which is an increase in supply.
At price of P1, we can see supply increase (Sorry not that clear on this particular diagram) Notice a shift in the opposite direction from S1 to S0 would be a decrease in supply.

What causes these shifts to occur?

A shift in supply is caused by non-price determinants. There are 5 main ones you need to know:

1. Changes in costs of production: The lower the costs the greater the profit for producers. Examples of this are; input prices (raw material, rent etc.) , changes in technology (e.g. internet) , organisational changes , subsidies and taxes.

2. Profitability of alternatives; if another good becomes more profitable then a firm will switch t produce more of that e.g. the transition between cd players to MP3 players.

3. Profitability of goods in joint supply; If the supply of one good e.g. cattle increases then so will the joint good e.g.leather

4. Random shocks e.g. strikes, weather, wars, earthquakes etc.

5. Expectations of future price changes; for example if a firm expects price to rise they will either produce more or hold onto stock.


Need more help…check my video out!