Who sets e-mail style? Prescriptivism, coping strategies, and democratizing communication access
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Stylistic practices in email reflect an amalgam of social presuppositions about usage conventions and individual strategies for handling a new language medium. To understand how contemporary email patterns have been forged and where they might be heading, this study examines the ways in which newly enfranchised language users in the past have balanced externally-generated prescriptions for linguistic style with user-generated coping strategies in constructing spoken and written messages. Popular letter-writing, the early telegraph, and early telephone behavior offer useful precedents for thinking about both email messages themselves and the potential effects of language technology on broader language change.