Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



In the newly emergent field of online ethnography, netspeak and online behavior are quickly becoming the next frontier of linguistic anthropology. The discourse analysis and cultural investigation of the virtual speech community of reveal several salient aspects of culture through the lens of the internet and online human behavior. This thesis focuses on aspects of language use in the discourse on message board threads on the Penismightier website. The Pen speech community has innovated a lexicon of original and modified techie language, such as unique emoticons and alpha-numeric orthography. The orthographic innovations of this virtual speech community blur the division between spoken and written language. Covert categories for topic shifting and anti-Gricean maxims play an integral role in thread behavior. Flame wars are the apex of this community’s language behavior, infusing power/knowledge with techie elitism and sharp, sometimes sexual wit. Discourse analysis of cyberspace netspeak is as new as the medium. My research reveals the creative patterns of interaction of this technologically mediated community and its importance in the field of linguistics and anthropology.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jill Brody