Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Carmen Fought

Reader 2

Jennifer Wood

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Rights Information

© 2016 Meridean Shim


This study has two major purposes: (1) to investigate if and how punctuation conventions have been rewritten in text messages to compensate for lack of paralinguistic cues and (2) the sociolinguistic implications of these findings. Data for this study was collected through an online, anonymous questionnaire in which participants gave their judgments about the meanings and function of punctuation used in sample text messages. The results show that punctuation is used to convey differences in meaning in direct and indirect ways and most are dependent on the context. Furthermore, age showed to be a factor in punctuation style and interpretation. The results here challenge the notion that texting is detrimental to one’s literacy skills and is in fact a site of linguistic innovation.