7. Semiotic Analysis of Computer-mediated Communication in Selected Instant Messages of Nigerian Students

Godwin Shoki, Wale Oni, Ladoke Akintola


This paper examines the signification and social meaning of computergenerated textual signs in online interactions of Nigerian students. Motivated by relatively scanty attention given to cross-cultural use of computer- mediated communication (CMC) systems, it argues that Nigerian student Internet consumers make use of only universal non-linguistic signs and iconic linguistic signs to construct messages in a cross-cultural context enabled by a synchronous system of communication called instant messaging (IM). Using content analysis and relevant aspects of the theories of semiotics, the work analyzes objectively and subjectively the linguistic and non-linguistic signs found in seventy-five purposively sampled instant messages retrieved from the students of two Nigerian universities selected on the basis of convenience. The findings reveal that Nigerian student Internet users largely adopt only universal non-linguistic signs and iconic linguistic signs to communicate a range of shared  social meanings in their instant messages. These textual signs include emotive icons (emoticons), emotive texts (emotexts), and abbronyms (multifarious shortenings). By and large, all these signs are observed to have positive implications for effective computer-mediated discourse.

This study hopes to provide insights into a new type of language contact and communication in this digital age, especially in a developing country.

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