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Creation of Internet Relay Chat Nicknames and Their Usage in English Chatroom Discourse

Author: R. Ecker
Paper: Ecke11a (2011)
Citation: Journal Linguistik online, Vol. 50, Nr. 6, ISSN 1615-3014, pp. 3-29, 2011.
Resources: Copy  (In order to obtain the copy please send an email with subject  Ecke11a  to


In a chat discourse it is not always clear who is chatting with whom; automatic discourse analysis is especially problematic. It is important to identify the users' nicknames in the written discourse to find out the receivers of the chat messages. But the linguistic possibilities in nickname creation, and also of using them in the discourse, are various. To study how nicknames are created and used in the Internet Relay Chat (IRC), logs of 13 channels consisting of 8937 public chat messages and 7936 unique nicknames were analyzed in detail. The paper shows, among other things, the basic structure of IRC nicknames, of which parts-of-speech group nicknames are compounded, and which parts-of-speech of a nickname are omitted within the chat discourse. This knowledge leads to a better prediction as to whether there is a link between a current logged-in user and the examined word in discourse, which can be a shortened or creatively changed form of a nickname.