Letter repetitions in computer-mediated communication: A unique link between spoken and online language

Yoram M. Kalman, Darren Gergle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computer-mediated communication (CMC) affords many CMC cues which augment the verbal content of the message: all uppercase letters, asterisks, emoticons, punctuation marks, chronemics (time-related messages) and letter repetitions, to name a few. Letter repetitions are unique CMC cues in that they appear to be a written emulation of a spoken paralinguistic cue - phoneme extension. In this study we explore letter repetitions as a CMC cue, with specific emphasis on elucidating the link between them and spoken nonverbal cues. The letter repetitions are studied in the Enron Corpus, a large ecologically valid collection (∼500,000) of e-mail messages sent by and to employees of the Enron Corporation. We conclude that letter repetitions in the corpus often, but not always, emulate spoken nonverbal cues. This conclusion is examined in a longitudinal analysis that demonstrates the dynamic nature of this cue, and suggests that the usage of letter repetitions is increasing over time, while the link to spoken language is diminishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Alberto Gonzalez for his work on the development of CorpusCruizer, Amanda Yentz for her work on the Enron Corpus, and Joe Walther for helpful and inspiring discussions. This work was funded, in part, by National Science Foundation grant #0953943 .


  • CMC cues
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Letter repetitions
  • Nonverbal cues


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