Enquoting voices, accomplishing talk: Uses of be + like in Instant Messaging

Graham M. Jones, Bambi B. Schieffelin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Based on a comparative study of informal speech and writing practices within comparable samples of American college students in 2003 and 2006, this article charts a dramatic expansion in the use of quotative like, and of reported speech and thought more generally, in Instant Messaging (IM). The spread of be + like from speech, where it was already pervasive, into IM correspondence gives a quotative format once thought exclusively oral new purchase in written language and heralds new strategies of voice representation within a typewritten medium ostensibly limited in its expressive potential. We present this development as evidence of a speech community that recognizes specific quotative forms and functions as constitutive of a preferential conversational style we term 'polyphonic', which foregrounds morally and affectively charged voicings.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)77-113
    Number of pages37
    JournalLanguage and Communication
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2009


    • Computer mediated communication (CMC)
    • Quotative like
    • Reported speech
    • Reported thought
    • Style
    • Youth language

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Communication
    • Linguistics and Language


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