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Linguist Claims Full Stops In Messages Might Seem Passive Aggressive

Linguist Claims Full Stops In Messages Might Seem Passive Aggressive

Are you the kind of person that signs off WhatsApp messages with a full stop? Well, according to one linguist who specialises in internet language, all of your friends think that you're passive aggressive.

Hey, most of us don't even need a full stop to be passive aggressive, right? It's easy enough anyway.

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However, linguist Gretchen McCulloch, from Montreal, Quebec has written a book about the rules of language use online and she reckons that most young people think that ending a text with a full stop is rude.

This is because of how we now experience language through programmes and apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Are you being accidentally rude? Credit: PA
Are you being accidentally rude? Credit: PA

She told the BBC: "If you're a young person and you're sending a message to someone, the default way to break up your thoughts is to send each thought as a new message.

"Because the minimum thing necessary to send is the message itself, anything additional you include can take on an additional interpretation."

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A 2015 study into the connotations of text messaging conducted by Binghamton University and published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour found that those surveyed found text messages with a full stop less sincere than those without punctuation.

Celia Klin, who conducted the study - which surveyed 126 undergraduate students - said: "Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations.

"When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on.

"People obviously can't use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them - emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation."

Why not just be rude on purpose? Credit: PA
Why not just be rude on purpose? Credit: PA

So, according to McCulloch, when we express a full stop in speech it is usually accompanied with a lowering of the voice at the end of the sentence to stress the full stop.

That lends the statement a serious air, which is fine in a text if you're saying something that is meant to be serious. However, if you're trying to be light humoured, it can seem differently.

She explained: "The problem comes when you have a positive message with the seriousness of the full stop.

"It's the juxtaposition of those things which creates that sense of passive aggression."

However, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. Erika Darics, a linguistics lecturer at Aston University, suggested: "If you and your friends don't normally use full stops in a WhatsApp group and then somebody does, they are probably trying to tell you something about how they feel."

Also, for those of you who think that text speak, emojis, an abbreviations encourage laziness, you're wrong, according to Darics. She added: "Things like emojis raise awareness of language and can help us understand subtleties in other types of communication, like politics or propaganda."

Thnx 4 dat.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Interesting, Weird

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother.” Contact Tom on [email protected]

 

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