Syntax is a technical name of the branch of linguistics is concerned with the ways which words can be combined together to form phrases and sentences. It deals with the principles that determine the ways in which we can and cannot combine words together to form phrases and sentences. Lexicon is derived from the word “Lexicon” which means words, Lexico-syntactic is a term that could be divided into Lexicon and Syntax. In other words, Lexico-Syntactic is a term that means words and how they (the words) come together to form phrases and sentences.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY,
Lexeme from its Greek origin is lexis meaning speech. It also means “Lexical item” or “Lexical unit”. In linguistics, it is a unit in the lexicon or vocabulary of a language. Its form is governed by sound and writing or print, its content by meaning and use. A lexeme is therefore the abstract unit which underscores some of the variants we have concerning woods. Van Valin and Lapolla (1997) say that the term Syntax is from the ancient Greek syntaxis, a verbal noun which literally means “arrangement” or “setting out together”. It refers to the branch of grammar dealing with the ways in which word with or without appropriate inflections, are arranged to show connections of meaning within the sentence the expression of a language involve a relationship between a sequence of sounds and meaning and this relationship is mediated by grammar, a core component of which is syntax
WhatsApp Messenger is an instant messaging app for smartphones that operates under a subscription business model. The proprietary, cross-platform app enables users of select feature phones to use the Internet to transmit communication. In addition to text messaging, WhatsApp can be used to send images, video, and audio media messages. Locations can also be shared through the use of integrated mapping features.
This research undertaken examines the use of words and its structure in the messages posted on the social networking application such as whatsapp discourse, the most popular social networking mobile application at the moment. Whatsapp is used as a research context in order to determine whether a specific tool of this networking application, that of writing instant messages, and sending audio messages is a conventionalised genre of computer-mediated communication, despite its relative novelty.
The rapid spread of instant mobile messaging applications like WhatsApp has resulted in special language features and structural modifications typical for this kind of computer mediated discourse (CMD).
Typical Lexico-syntactic structure observed in WhatsApp discourse, includes the frequent use of abbreviations, acronyms, non-standard spelling, shortened sentences, contractions etc. are analyzed with the help of a self-compiled corpus, including, at this point, selected examples of WhatsApp messages. These examples also show how non-standard use of punctuaction and the use of emojis instead of whole words modifies the structures on the words used in the discourse. Special WhatsApp features such as multimodality (the possibility to integrate audio and video files, pictures, places and contacts as part of the discourse) as well as the possibility to create and communicate in groups are also analyzed and discussed in terms of their relevance for this particular multi-user discourse type.
In addition, the influence on WhatsApp language created by differences in Android and iOS platforms and the resulting variations in discourse, especially in turn taking and perception of the communication partner are presented. An outlook as to how WhatsApp could be integrated into the EFL classroom is given, for example through a multi-user group consisting of students in a classroom who participate in a discussion in their second language, guided by the teacher.
Social media language structure can be likened to abbreviations and slang commonly used with mobile phone applications for instant messaging, but sometimes used with other Internet-based communication such as email and text messaging. Once it became popular it took on a life of its own and was often used outside of its original context. At its peak, it was the cause of vigorous debate about its potentially detrimental effect on literacy, but with the advent of alphabetic keyboards on smartphones its use, and the controversies surrounding it, have receded. However this study sought to analyze the lexico syntactic structure of some selected whatsapp discourse.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The structure of language use on social media discourse is similar to that used by those sending telegraphs that charged by the word. It seeks to use the fewest number of letters to produce ultra-concise words and sentiments in dealing with space, time and cost constraints of instant messaging. This follows from how early Social media messaging permitted only fewer characters and some carriers charge messages by the number of characters sent.
It also shares some of these characteristics with Internet slang and Telex speak following from how its evolution is rather symbiotic to the evolution of use of shorthand in Internet chat rooms. Likewise, such a change sought to accommodate the small number of characters allowed per message, and to increase convenience for the time-consuming and often small keyboards on mobile phones. In addition, similarly elliptical styles of writing can be traced to the days of telegraphese 120 years back, where telegraph operators were reported to use abbreviations similar to those used in modern instant messaging when chatting amongst themselves in between sending of official messages.
Nevertheless, the invention of mobile phone instant messaging is considered to be the source for the invention of another lexico-syntactic structure on the social media. In general, pattern of words used on social media thus permits the sender to type less and communicate more quickly than one could without such shortcuts. One example is the use of “tomoz” instead of “tomorrow”. Nevertheless, there are no standard rules for the creation and use of grammar on social media platform such as Whatapp discourse. Any word may be shortened (for example, “text” to “txt”). Words can also be combined with numbers to make them shorter (for example, “later” to “l8r”), using the numeral “8” for its homophonic quality.
1.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Because social networks investigate the forces that impact individual behavior, rather than simply attributing lexico syntactic structural difference to social class, a theory of language change based on social networks is able to explain this linguistic behavior more deeply than variationist sociolinguistics. The two major findings of social network theory are that dense (highly interconnected) networks are resistant to change, and that most lexico syntactic change is initiated by weak links—people who are not centrally connected to the network in question. Though most sociolinguistics working on social networks agree on these findings, there has been extended debate about which actors in the network are the primary drivers of this change. The results of this debate are two theories, the strong-tie theory, and the weak-tie theory.
Strong Tie Theory
The strong tie theory, or agentive theory, has long been thought of in classical sociolinguistic theory as a driver of change, even prior to social network theory. In the context of social network theory, agents are the people who are most connected to others in the network, and whose speech style is often imitated by people within the network. These agents also regulate language usage inside the network, and therefore ensure the dominance of their preferred variant form throughout the network, because group members are more likely to adopt high-status variants. Strong tie networks are believed to be resistant to lexico syntactic innovation, because prestige forms also tend to be conservative forms. Central agents are also able to engage in dialogues with leaders in other network. According to strong-tie theory, this is how new variants are spread. William Labov’s study of Philadelphia speech communities provides an example of the strong-tie theory.
Weak Tie Theory
Sociolinguists have recently begun to focus their studies on weak links: individuals who are not closely tied to a group, such as people who move frequently or live in isolated areas. The weak tie theory, first proposed by Milroy and Milroy in 1983, posits that language structural change is propagated by the people who are second order members of social networks. Agents who are weakly connected are more likely to come into contact with new lexico syntatctic variants, since they spend most of their time interacting with people outside of the central network. Loosely connected individuals are also under less social pressure to conform to group language practices than integral members. Weak-tie social network theory postulates that linguistic variables are spread by means of weak, uni-dimensional social links between non-central individuals. Therefore it is the case that language change will have the propensity to be faster in larger communities rather than in smaller communities. Support for this theory is found in Labov’s study of “lames’ in Harlem, and in Lesley Milroy’s 1987 Belfast study.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of carrying out this study was to analyze the lexico syntactic structure in some selected whatsapp discourse, investigating the use and structure of words in the whatsapp discourse. The following are the other objectives:
1. To investigate the lexical features that exist in selected whatsapp social media discourse
2. To examine the syntactic pattern observed in selected whatsapp social media discourse
3. To identify the frequency of occurrence of Lexicosyntactic patterns in selected whatsapp discourse and how such pattern can be accounted for
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the lexical features that exist in selected whatsapp social media discourse?
2. What is the syntactic pattern observed in selected whatsapp social media discourse?
3. What is the frequency of occurrence of Lexicosyntactic patterns in selected whatsapp discourse and how can such pattern be accounted for?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is targeted at investigating using the Whatsapp discourse the lexico syntactic pattern of the language used in communicating on the social media looking carefully at modification that has been made to the Standard Lexico syntactic structure and its effect on the literacy level of the general public which the includes the slangs, abbreviations and non-standard use of punctuations used in instant messaging in the Whatsapp discourse. This study will also form part of the literature for future study in related subject.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION
It will be restricted only to the lexico syntactic structure of the language used on the whatsapp forum which is an example of social media. It limits itself to the analysis of the structures of the language examining the different writings used during chatting on Whatsapp application, thereby laying bare its differences alongside Standard lexico syntactic structure.
LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
Limitations experienced in the course of this study are basically centered on problems relating to:
1. Difficulty in generating reasonable, adequate and reliable information from respondents- Respondents tend to provide information which they feel the researcher would be pleased to get, which may not be the right information.
2. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
3. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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