Texting’s existence as a written medium causes it to loose much of the nuance found in spoken conversation. To that purpose, users of computer mediated communication have found ways of conveying emotion in written conversation.
The first example is the emoticon. A metacommunicative symbol formed from punctuation symbols, it is used as a pragmatic marker in conversation, coloring the responses or requests it is affixed too, or, at times, as statement unto itself.
Line (18) from Bones has Phineas suffixing his suggestion to Ferb with “=P”. ‘=P’, which signifies a tongue sticking out of one’s mouth and, thus, playfulness, is used here to mitigate Phineas’ suggestion. It means that Phineas’ ...view middle of the document...
Line (19) of Spock has Sarah stating, in parentheses, that her prior statement was “dripping with sarcasm.” She says this to ensure that Chuck understands that she is not complimenting Harry, even in the potentially condescending way her “aw, how nice” in (18) would suggest. As computer-mediated conversation like texting lacks inflection, it can be necessary to use metacommunication like this to make clear the intent behind an utterance. The difficulty of conveying sarcasm requires statements like this to ensure conversation happens smoothly.
Other times, metacommunication can be about the conversation itself. This shows itself strongly in the beginning of Spock where Sarah’s utterances in lines (5-8) are about Chuck’s use of parentheses and brackets to order conversation. She is fully aware of their conversation as a written form and is able to comment on it. She uses the parentheses and brackets herself to emphasize her own statements, though in a more comedic fashion than Chuck. Such interaction would not be possible in verbal dialogue.
Another feature of computer-mediated communication used to ensure the flow of conversation is that of ‘asides’. Similar to their role in theater, where they serve as a way for a character to state their intention or comment on a situations, they allow participants to make a statement not directly related to the conversation at hand without derailing it entirely. This can be seen in line (19), where Sarah marks her statement within parenthesis, though it does change the topic for a few turns until resuming the discussion of Harry’s potential movie in line (24). By placing it in parenthesis Sarah indicates that this isn’t necessarily to be the new topic of conversation, rather it is ancillary.
An aside shows up again later in line (33) where Chuck discusses where he is (this is in relation to his job mentioned in line (4)). It exists outside the current discussion of Harry’s filmmaking aspirations and, like the prior aside, is once again in parenthesis. This time, however, the aside is picked up by Sarah and forms its own concurrent conversation alongside the primary one. The following utterances in (35), (40), (42), and (43) form a brief conversation about the nature of the bar at the restaurant Chuck is at. It never crosses over to the dialogue about Harry’s movie, despite the latter still being discussed before, during, and after it. At one point it almost derails the conversation, as Chuck’s “but nah” in line (45) seems to imply him wishing to return to the prior subject (Sarah’s message in line (44) may not have arrived before Chuck sent his; this asynchronous of text messaging can create mixups like this) before it gets derailed too far. The fact that the conversation takes place entirely in parenthesis further highlights its aside nature. There are two conversations happening at once with the second marked by parentheses.
That said, concurrent...