Insights into electronic language production through keystroke logging
This paper reports on one aspect of our Keystroke Project, namely, repairs and pauses in spontaneous, personal electronic language production found, for example, in e-mails, chatrooms and Facebook. The data used in this study were collected through the computer logging software ‘Inputlog’ (Leijten and Van Waes, 2006).
Keystroke logging is a methodological tool which “offers the opportunity to capture details of the activity of writing” (Spelman Miller and Sullivan, 2006:1). For example, Van Waes and Schellens (2003) investigated writing profiles and the effect of the writing mode on pausing and revision patterns of experienced writers and Miller (2005) used keystroke logging to study second language writing processes. To our knowledge, no work, to date, has explored the use of keystroke logging in spontaneous electronic language production and our aim is to fill this research gap.
We will extend Lindgren’s (2005) claim that keystroke logging closely registers traces of cognitive activity during on-line writing because the more spontaneous the language produced, the closer it is to revealing typical human processing. By analysing the spontaneous occurrences of repairs and pauses in data from Facebook and other personal, spontaneous CMC we will offer a description of electronic language production. We identify where pauses and linguistic repairs (lexical and grammatical) occur; we consider whether there is a distinction between the categories of function and content words; and classify spellings in relation to non-standard spellings and ‘ignored’ spellings. The following examples are typically found in our data
- Your personal bag can be fairly big, light a tote bag. (‘light’ →’ like’)
- To discuss what we can over (‘over’ → ‘offer’)
- You had no write to write in his passport (‘write’ → ‘right’)
Through recording and analysing keystrokes we offer innovative insights into the connection between language and cognition.
- Leijten, M.; Van Waes, L. (2006) Inputlog: New Perspectives on the Logging of On-Line Writing. In: K. P. H. Sullivan; E. Lindgren (eds.) Computer Key-Stroke Logging and Writing: Methods and Applications. Oxford: Elsevier, 73-94
- Lindgren, E. (2005). Writing and revising: didactic and methodological implications of keystroke logging. Umea: Department of Modern Languages, Umea University.
- Miller, K. S. (2005). ‘Second language writing research and pedagogy: a role for computer logging’. Computers and Composition, 22(3), pp 297-317.
- Spelman Miller and Sullivan, (2006) Keystroke Logging: An Introduction. In: K. P. H. Sullivan; E. Lindgren (eds.) Computer Key-Stroke Logging and Writing: Methods and Applications. Oxford: Elsevier, 1-10.
- Van Waes, L and Schellens, P. J. (2003). ‘Writing profiles: the effect of the writing mode on pausing and revision patterns of experienced writers’. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 829-853.