Cyber Language used by University Syudents: Textual Analysis of Facebook page “Confessions”

El ciberlenguaje juvenil universitario: Análisis de los textos de la página de Facebook “Confesiones”

Dennis Arias Chávez1, Teresa Ramos Quispe1, Luis Alberto Núñez Lira2, Miguel Gerardo Inga Arias3

El ciberlenguaje juvenil universitario: Análisis de los textos de la página de Facebook “Confesiones” = Cyber Language used by University Syudents: Textual Analysis of Facebook page “Confessions”

1. Universidad Continental, Arequipa, Perú.

2. Universidad César Vallejo, Lima, Perú.

3. Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Perú.


The presentation of the cyber language as one of the variations of the language includes a discussion on its nature as an intermediate form between oral language and written language and the forces responsible for the linguistic changes. On the one hand, we have the popular usage that has given rise to the constant evolution of the language and, on the other hand, the educated speech which strives to recover its etymological form (Betancourt, 2010). The objective of the present study is to analyze the linguistic phenomena present in the texts listed on the Facebook page called "Confessions" of 6 Peruvian universities, 3 from the city of Arequipa and 3 subsidiaries of Lima universities in this city. The corpus consists of 70 texts, the design is transversal, descriptive and documentary and we used as a tool a registration form of linguistic variations in which spelling, lexical-semantic and lexical- syntactic features were collected and analyzed, in addition to the function of the language used in this means. The study demonstrates the existence of a different variety of distinctly creative texts. Regarding the spelling features, we found the vowel elision, substitution and multiplication of consonant graphemes. Lexical-semantic features of the analyzed texts show a marked use of euphemisms, colloquial words and anglicisms. From the lexical-syntactical point of view, the analysis shows that despite the more or less informal nature of the means used (Facebook), the messages that are transmitted are texts which develop comprehensive and complex argumentations. Finally, functions that are prevalent in the texts are the emotional and phatic ones.

Keywords: Cyber language, linguistic resources, communicative intent, Facebook.


La presentación del ciberlenguaje como una de las variantes de la lengua incluye una discusión sobre su carácter como forma intermedia entre la oralidad y la escritura y las fuerzas responsables de los cambios lingüísticos. Por una parte, la vertiente popular que ha dado origen a la evolución constante de la lengua; y por otra, la culta que se esfuerza por recuperar la forma etimológica (Betancourt, 2010). El objetivo del presente estudio es analizar los fenómenos lingüísticos presentes en los textos que figuran en la página de Facebook denominada "Confesiones" de 6 universidades peruanas: tres arequipeñas y tres filiales de universidades limeñas en esta ciudad. El corpus de análisis consta de 70 textos, el diseño es descriptivo transversal de tipo documental y como instrumento se utilizó una ficha de registro de variaciones lingüísticas en la que se recogen y analizan los rasgos ortográficos, léxico- semánticos, léxico-sintácticos, además de la función que cumple el lenguaje utilizado en este medio. El estudio evidencia la existencia de una variedad heterogénea con un marcado carácter creativo de los textos. En lo que se refiere a los rasgos ortográficos, destacan la elisión de vocales, sustitución y multiplicación de grafemas consonánticos. Los rasgos léxico-semánticos de los textos analizados muestran un marcado uso de eufemismos, palabras coloquiales y anglicismos. Desde el punto de vista léxico-sintáctico, el análisis muestra que, pese al carácter más o menos informal del medio que se utiliza (Facebook), los mensajes que se transmiten son textos que desarrollan argumentaciones completas y complejas. Finalmente, las funciones que prevalecen en los textos son la emotiva y fática.

Palabras clave: Ciberlenguaje, recursos lingüísticos, intencionalidad comunicativa, Facebook.


Every living organism seeks to integrate elements of its environment in order to survive in it. This integration process does not only take place at the biological level, but also at the social level. Undoubtedly, the Internet, better than other phenomena, represents this process that has led societies to move from a physical reality to a virtual one. The Internet’s ability to generate information seems limitless and it continues to expand around the world at an incredible speed. It is so important that it has become an indispensable tool not only for the academically and professionally active population, but also for anyone who has access to it (Raacke & Bonds-Raacke, 2008).

The emergence of technology has generated changes not only in people but also in society itself. The need that every human being has to become part of groups or organizations has been taken to its maximum expression with the creation of virtual networks in which it is possible to establish not only bonds of friendship with people who, in many cases, are unknown, but it also opens the doors to the possibility of showing ourselves to the world. These social groups formed by people connected by some common relationship are known as "social networks". In this regard, Fernandez (2013) refers that:

Since people have a natural need to establish communication with others and the OSN [Online Social Networks] have broken the barriers of time and space to establish and continue interpersonal relationships through the exchange of ideas, the OSN has become an important opportunity for users since asynchronous and synchronous means of communication are provided. (p. 521)

Social networks, and other technologies, have increases the possibility of communicating and living socially connected. The importance of the social networks lies in the ease with which people can sign up, as well as the speed of sending and receiving messages. The writing shown in these means often breaks the rules, including those of the language, as it places functionality before the care of the message.


Social networks are classified according to the objective pursued by their members. The most common distinction is the one that differentiates between general networks and segmented networks (López, 2012). The first is characterized for being focused on all the users without distinction of age, sex, profession, etc. The two best-known networks that are part of this group are Facebook and Twitter. This type of social networks are so popular that even politicians, institutions and even governments use them as a means to reach the population. Only in 2017, the number of active users on Facebook was 2 billion and this figure seems to be increasing ("Facebook reaches 2 billion users", 2017). On the other hand, segmented networks are those that, for one reason or another, only is focused on one segment of the population. This type of networks is aimed at disseminating and sharing specific information among professionals in some scientific or technical field. Examples of these social networks include LabRoots, ResearchGates, LinkedIn, among others.


Facebook is a social network whose structure is simple, as it is based on connecting profiles, connecting people with people, who may be family, friends, classmates, institutions or associations. Facebook allows you not only to search and contact people, but also to "make" friends just by sending a friend request. By using different applications, Facebook encourages its users to share their emotions, images, report events and even conduct surveys and activities that are recorded and the system itself reminds its users about them through videos or other applications.

As a result of its popularity, concerns have arisen about the effect this network can have on its users. The online environment can produce narcissistic behaviors or also modifications in the way of perceiving friendship relations, given the superficial nature promoted by this virtual environment (Herrera, 2010). The magnitude that Facebook has reached has exceeded all expectations given the innovative way of communication and socialization it imposes. Although this communication plays a very important role within the new generations, it is also important to analyze not only the social, physical and real changes it produces in its users (Magnuson & Dundes, 2008), but also the social prejudices about the use of language, particularly about the lexicon used in social networks, which many specialists consider poor. These prejudices respond to the normative spirit that all language users possess, and which leads them to question the linguistic competence of the users of these social networks.

Facebook Confession Pages

Confession is the act of declaring or acknowledging an error, misdemeanor or felony, usually to someone who exercises the power to forgive. And although this term is related to religion or justice, we can transpose this action into our daily lives. In recent years, the trend to use social networks, particularly Facebook, to express our feelings in front of others is increasing. This trend not only makes those who make confession feel relief, but also amuses and makes those who read it an accomplice.

Social networks have become an ideal space for exchanging information, knowledge, and feelings in a quick and, to a certain extent, in a superficial way. The possibilities of generating social bonds through interpersonal communication that it promotes make it possible to constitute a system of particular interaction and of interest to psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and linguists. Expressing what we are thinking or feeling enables an unusual openness of the receiver who, from a different place, builds an image of "we" according to "our" words. This construction is complemented by the inclusion of non-linguistic elements such as memes, images or emoticons, elements that reinforce the message.

Universities are academic spaces where students not only receive knowledge, but also build a professional identity. Like any human community, academic environments are not free from problems and situations that students often perceive as adverse or unfortunate. The courses, teachers, colleagues, facilities and the organization of the institution are fundamental elements that reinforce this perception. Many studies have shown that there are events related to university activity that generate high levels of stress. Such events include lack of time to complete academic activities, overloading of courses and activities, exams, classroom presentations, and completion of mandatory works and assignments.

First-year students report the highest rates of stress due to the lack of time to complete activities and the academic overload. Although these factors continue to be perceived as stressful among higher education students, they are somewhat diminished over time. (Montoya, Gutiérrez, Toro, 2010, p. 10).

These difficulties lead students to look for and create spaces in which they can release tensions. This gives rise to pages of confessions on Facebook, spaces in which users write, under the label "I confess that...", about various topics such as for example, love situations:

I confess that I like the suicidal girl of Architecture, she’s always with a short girl with glasses, if you see this, listen to me, I’ll save you.

With respect to how they perceive their fellow students:

I confess thatttttttt at school there are too many UGLY guys who think that because they go to the "gym" they are handsome, and the worst thing is that they walk with their male poses eating tuna, chicken, beaten egg with bull’s milk. Well, I would like to know what day they’ll exercise their face at the’s the truth, they can’t change their face, not even with Milett’s surgeon... greetings from the Architecture Faculty...

Or to request some kind of favor or recommendation that also includes a direct criticism to the institution:

Buddy, please publish this, Fellows I need some recommendation to study English other than the university at an affordable price, #1 I checked with X and it costs 130, someone can recommend me some other cultural place, "el británico", or another one you know? #2 The university should have an agreement with a language institution for students of X grrr.

The purpose of these pages is to comment on experiences related to the university. Among their characteristics are their anonymity, an aspect that makes possible the users’ freedom of expression (often exaggerated), the decontextualization of messages, and the possibility to respond the confessions and to include emoticons, memes, videos or other resources that reinforce the message. Access is free and managed by an administrator, who is also anonymous. It is common to read on these pages comments from people not necessarily related to the university. Confessions allow the possibility to mix the private with the public, which makes it attractive to users since it gives them the possibility to do their thing, which is considered private by others.

Internet Language or Cyber Language

In the virtual environment, the relationships between real identity and virtual identity facilitate the creation of alternate personalities, that is, the invention of a virtual "I" endowed with particular characteristics. Although this new identity contains exaggerated and ideal elements, it does not last long, as it is soon overtaken by the real "I". However, when it comes to the use of language in virtual media, there are two very marked positions. The first one supports the invasion of the Internet and the variety of genres that the network of networks has been creating under the category of "cyber language". The second states that the changes introduced by the Internet, instead of enriching, it impoverishes the language.

Any language must adapt to the needs of its users, since its primary function is to express our participation, as speakers, in the various discursive situations in which we are involved. The image we create for ourselves and others; our desires, feelings, attitudes and our own judgments. On this last point, what was said by Halliday (1982) is important, for whom "language has to interpret all our experience, reducing the infinitely varied phenomena of the world around us" (p. 33), a situation applicable not only in chats, where participants summarize that world perceived from their technological abilities, but also in other virtual media such as Facebook and Twitter, in which exposure to a public is more than evident. Coseriu (1977) follows Halliday’s line since for him language is a very complex, multifaceted cultural reality. The living nature of language leads it to change and adapt to new situations, allowing it to evolve in accordance with the speaker’s use of it.

In recent years, the interest in studying the variations of language on the Internet has prioritized the analysis of the differential features of the written rule on various virtual platforms, such as the case of WhatsApp conversations (Gómez del Castillo, 2017), Twitter (Sánchez, 2013; Ruiz, 2015) and Facebook (Valderrama, 2013; Medina, 2016), while Covadonga’s studies (2006) on electronic communication, Rocha’s (2004) and his study on the language of young people in chat complement this line of research. However, the concern is also about the writing mechanisms used in social networks. Proof of this can be found in the works of Briz (2014), Fuenmayor and Villasmil (2010), Sandoval (2016) and Vanegas (2014). Another group of studies has set their objectives in analyzing one of the points that generates most controversy between specialists and language users: the orthographic features and the abbreviation processes of the messages produced in social networks as a way of originality and rebellion. In this line, we have the studies carried out by Sabando (2017), Figueroa and Quinteros (2016) and Bermúdez, Cabrera and Carranza (2016).

The term "cyber language" has been used to refer to the Internet language, which is understood as the code shared by social network users, especially young people, in order to identify themselves as part of a group.

Among the most outstanding features of this code are simplicity, clarity, accuracy, and immediacy of the messages. These features become evident when we write on Facebook or Twitter, write a text message, or send a message via WhatsApp. Existing studies on cyber language show a common point between all its modalities, and that is to present discourses as an attempt to approach orality to writing (Bertancourt, 2010; Gianmmatteo & Albano, 2009; Yus, 2001; Gómez, 2001). This differs from the traditional approach to language teaching and learning, which focuses on differentiating between written language and oral language. This difference seems to have disappeared in the use of this type of language in which, although the written form is still preserved, it uses a large number of elements of the oral form.

Another distinctive characteristic of this type of language is its approach to jargon, as it differs from the standard accepted by the norm, and it constitutes what might be called "juvenile jargon" (more than 80% of Facebook users are at the age group of 16 to 34), This type of language is used for the self-affirmation of the group’s identity, as it represents an ideology of youthful feeling, which has led some authors to consider it as a counter-cultural current (Contreras & De la Barra, 1996).

Age is an important factor in the so-called juvenile language, as mentioned by Eckert (1998), who points out that linguistic resources used at any age have their own social meaning. This leads to carry out sociolinguistic studies of the resources used by adolescents and young people, which will lay the foundation for understanding the linguistic variety used by adults. Young people use particular forms of expression in order to identify themselves with a particular group; therefore, they use their own vocabulary and phraseology that characterizes them. A further reason that arouses interest in the study of youth language, as stated by Zimmermann (2002), is the fact that it is a language culture characterized by the limited intervention of the regulations of official agents, such as Academies or educational institutions.

There are characteristics that make it possible to differentiate communication in virtual media, including: a) immediate response, although with certain differences compared to other systems such as chat or WhatsApp, whose texts have a rather slow pace, unlike orality; b) it does not have gestural or prosodic support, however, these shortcomings are resolved with the inclusion of emoticons; c) does not allow perceiving the interlocutors’ reactions, but the emoticons help to solve this limitation; d) the text can suffer variations in its structure and even be erased; e) its level of decontextualization is high; f) it has a relatively high level of spontaneity; g) the structural complexity is relative; h) it is subject to correction; and i) it offers the possibility of being improved with other resources (images, photos, emoticons, gifs, etc.).

Spelling Characteristics

As for orthography and orthotypography, texts produced on social networks deviate from the standard norm. Among the causes which lead to violating the orthographic regulations are the speed with which texts are produced, and the quick response to them, which leads to omitting accents, punctuation marks, capital letters, or making mistakes in the abbreviation of words, among other mistakes, as can be seen in the following example:

Anonymous Dude Confe, I’m a frosh of the VV :’v don’t laugh, I wanted to know if the XX of Arequipa is authorized and if they will give us the student card as the university law states, for me the XX is very good since I wanted to go there since my 2nd year of high school please no jokes or insults be sergios (serious) :’v it’s my biggest doubt because it pisses me off when my cousin says that it is not authorized.

From the example it can be concluded that concern is on the content rather than on the form of the message, which shows that there is an intentional deviation from the rules, not because of ignorance, since we can also see that some words are written correctly, but because of the interest the user has in expressing his message (quickly). This has led to affirm that in fact it would not be referring to orthographic mistakes, since one of the conditions for these mistakes to exist is that the user would have to ignore the rules. If the user knows the orthographic rules but deliberately omits them, we would be dealing with a case of "heterography", which, in the words of Martínez de Sousa (2004, as quoted in Gómez, 2007), consists in "intentional deviations from the orthographic rule that are not produced by ignorance, but by occasional discrepancies with the academic rules." (p. 159) This type of writing does not generate communication problems to the receiver since it is structured in a coherent and consistent way because both the sender and the receiver share the same knowledge and interests. Since the code is constantly transformed and reinvented by the creativity of the speakers, we are facing a phenomenon that generates and maintains its own rules. Sanction is focused on the social side, but it does not represent anobstacle in these networks.

Giammatteo & Albano (2010) mention that most spelling mistakes made in the digital context are explained by linguistic decisions of the speakers that respond to the law of least effort, their tendency to transfer the features of orality to the written language and to the creativity in writing a type of different text from the rest. It is also important to note that despite the omission of rules, the message is not affected, as it achieves its objective.

Lexical-Syntactic Characteristics.

Looking the texts produced on social networks is enough to have an idea of the peculiarity of how sentences are structured, especially when compared to the standard written model. Within the formal paradigm, language is as a relatively finished system determined by factors external to its use and whose functionality is based on more or less rigid rules. This paradigm suggests that language works mechanically. In the face of this position, the functional paradigm considers that language is an instrument created by humans to communicate. Just as humans create social or family structures in order to satisfy their needs to live in society, language is also reflected by these characteristics as they respond to the use of it. Language serves as a means of communication and must, therefore, satisfy the expressive needs of humans.

Syntax is the branch of linguistics and its object of study is the relationships that words establish with each other when combined to form superior units of meaning. Syntax is the essential domain of the language system, and its alteration, whether in order or structure, can endanger the intelligibility of the message. Altering the syntax produces, among other things, distortions in the structure and functionality of words, which at the same time can explain why orthography presents so many alterations (Giammatteo & Albano, 2010).

The different syntactic structures of a language are created to satisfy specific communicative needs. Therefore, considering syntax as a set of abstract structural rules according to which a language is organized cannot be considered its ultimate purpose. It is the use that has forced specialists to reconsider this idea. The syntactic use of words and constructions typical of cyber language makes it possible to bring it closer to a type of colloquial language. This is observed in the brief and simple phrases used in the social networks texts, characteristics that are very common in the oral language, which reinforces one of the fundamental characteristics of this type of language, and which integrates characteristics of the oral form into its structure.

Therefore, rather than talking about an embedded syntax, we can consider that the Internet language uses a concatenated syntax in which the statements accumulate progressively. Thus, it is common to find sentence development such as enumerations, segmentations, juxtaposition, coordination and subordination, or the frequency of expansions and expressive reductions of the communication nucleus (paraphrase) or explanatory detours that determines the slow evolution of the contribution of information (Pérez, 2012).

According to Briz (1996, as quoted in Pérez, 2012), it can be considered that this type of language uses a non-conventional syntax that borders on the informal language.

Lexical-Semantic Characteristics

Semantics is about the study of the meaning of words, that is, of the relationship between signs and what they refer to. The lexical-semantic level studies neologisms, semantic change, acronyms, specialized language, slang, colloquial language, foreign words, idioms, sayings, rhetorical figures, etc. As explained above, the language used on the Facebook page "Confessions" is characterized by its level of colloquialism, since it involves characteristics that can be understood as transgressions of the use of the language, in addition to the predominance of the oral language level.

It is common that in this type of message some uses predominate, for example, the use of English words in exclamatory phrase: "Que sad" (‘How sad’, ‘What a pity’); abbreviations: "XDXDXD" (laughs); Use of euphemistic word ("cock" for ‘penis’): "The problem is we both have cocks"; colloquial and vulgar voices: "suck", "fuck"; phrases with clear allusions to sexual activity: "I fuck her in the ass"; abbreviated terms: "share the face of..." (for "Facebook"); euphemistic uses: "I don’t give a flying fuck" (for "it bothers me deeply").

The Message and the Speaker’s Intention

The colloquial characteristics of the texts produced in social networks emphasize some of the functions of language, such as expressive and phatic functions. The poetic function is not left aside, since among the characteristics of this type of language is the creativity of the users to produce striking and original texts, being the metalinguistic the function that is least applied in these texts.

For functionalism, language is a functional system resulting from human activity whose essential purposes are communication and expression. Roman Jakobson, an exponent of this linguistic model, states that communication is a process in which the sender sends a message with specific intentions (Pelayo & Cabrera, 2001). Jakobson includes in 1933 the proposal of Karl Bühler.

In his approach, he recognizes the following functions: emotive function, aesthetic function, conative function, metalinguistic function, representative function and phatic function.

The linguistic function involves the relationship between the receiver and the message, a relationship that is subject to the addresser’s intention to construct a statement focused on any of the elements of the communication process. Likewise, the role of the message is determined by the way it is understood by the receiver, as well as the receiver’s context, either cultural, social or academic. However, in social networks, although users share the same context ("the university"), it is not always possible to understand the messages since the personalization of these messages seeks that few people understand them. For this reason, many administrators create pages per faculty or professional school in order to maintain a specific group. The latter occurs mainly in major universities, while general pages are common in relatively small universities.


This research provides a descriptive study that aims to identify the differentiating characteristics of the language used in social networks. To this end, the objectives proposed were to specify and analyze the orthographic, lexical-semantic and lexical-syntactic characteristics of the texts extracted from the wall of the Facebook page "Confessions", and also to explain their communicative purpose. In order to achieve this, a documentary analysis of contents is used as the main research method.

The population consisted of 244 texts extracted from the wall of the Facebook page "Confessions" of 6 universities: 3 from Arequipa and 3 from Lima that have a campus in this city. The study was carried out in April, May and June 2018, months in which the academic work begins and the first mid-term exams are passed. The non-probabilistic intentional method was used for the composition of the sample, selecting 70 texts. Among the criteria followed for the composition of the sample are: 1) that they are extensive texts appearing on the wall of the page (comments made to them are excluded); 2) texts written only by university students (communications or other texts written by offices of the university itself are excluded); 3) texts extracted from official pages; and 4) texts that are not comments to memes or images.

As for the instruments, two were created: the text registration form, which includes specific data such as date of publication, the subject covered, backup image and transcription of the texts. As this form is of a documentary nature, it does not contain any analytical section, since its function is solely to record the data of the study population. The second instrument was the Linguistic Characteristics Record Form created from the proposal of Giammatteo and Albano (2009), who are interested in analyzing three characteristics of the cyber language: orthographic, morphological and lexical-semantic. Also, the form includes an additional characteristic: the function of language (according to Jakobson), an important feature to be able to deepen the explanation of the communicative purpose of this sample.


In view of the characteristics of the study population, which corresponds to the university environment, some clarifications are necessary. Given the anonymous nature of the texts, it is not possible to determine aspects such as sex or age; and although the context of the publications may be an evidence of these characteristics, it is not entirely reliable given the masks participants wear on this social network. It is important to remember that among the characteristics of social networks is that of personalization through the use of an image or nickname. On the other hand, it was verified, as a condition for text collection, that the pages in question are the "official" ones, which was achieved by verifying the number of users and the dates of publication of the messages. In order to check the veracity of the page, a page registration form detailing each of these features was developed. Although these pages emerge as specific spaces aimed not only at university students, there are no filters that evaluate the quality of the messages or their content. The universities do not recognize these pages as official and even some of them prohibit their creation and sanction the users in case they identify them.

During the selection process of the sample, there was a proven tendency to summarize the messages in memes and images, forgetting about the extensive texts, perhaps, as a way to be more expressive.

The comments made on the texts published on the walls of the pages deserve a special mention, as they are usually just as creative as the messages themselves.

The sample selection process concluded with the coding of the total population of texts collected in order to have an accurate record of the material, which forms a consistent corpus that can be relied upon for future research.


Orthographic Characteristics

The immediacy, together with the need to write at a higher speed than usual than in other media, makes it more likely that not only orthographic errors are made, but also orthotypographic ones (uses and conventions of the written language). Among the most outstanding characteristics in the analyzed texts are the elision of vowels, substitution and multiplication of consonant and vowel graphemes (lv u for "I love you", wtf for "what the fuck", btw for "by the way"; I love youuuuuuu for "I love you"). From the point of view of the image the user transmits, the person is aware that his message is being read by a public who judge not only its form but also the its content. However, there is an implicit agreement between the addresser and the receiver so as to ignore the errors in the writing of the texts. There is undoubtedly a predominance of anxiety to "confess" a situation, which is why the addresser resorts to discursive strategies, such as the use of emoticons (in the texts analyzed they fulfill the basic purpose of transmitting basic concepts such as joy, sadness or complicity) or colloquial terms, in order to give oral features to his message. Orality is a primary language characteristic; and in the texts studied, there seems to be a tendency to go back to this principle. The analysis shows that the predominant characteristic of the cyber language or internet language is the absence of spelling. Table 1 shows a sample of the texts analyzed:

Lexical-Semantic Characteristics.

The language of young people, in this case university students, is marked by a departure from the standard norm, a departure from the language labeled as "correct", which young people see it associated with the older generation. This attitude is reinforced by the use of other resources such as emoticons, memes, images, etc. The idea of young people configuring, on a small scale, a counter-society or anti-society (Rodríguez, 2002) will be important for them in the configuration of their own communication system that transfers their values, feelings, and frustrations, and serve them as a form of identity. In order to accomplish this purpose, they create new words, deform others or assign new meanings to the existing words. Or they borrow either foreign words or words from the marginal language of a marked pejorative connotation. These vocabulary changes are called "overlexicalization" by Halliday (1978).

Another important aspect to highlight is the ephemeral character of the expressions used in these media. It is normal that its inclusion in the language varies with time, as it is the case of slang. The choice of one term or another is due to cultural changes and the user’s own state of mind, a characteristic that is also reflected in the conceptual field in which the messages are registered: love, sex, social skills... Table 2 shows some of these phenomena:

Lexical-Syntactic Characteristics

From a lexical-syntactic point of view, the analysis of the texts shows that despite the more or less informal nature of the means used (Facebook), the transmitted messages are texts that develop complete and complex arguments.

Unlike, for example, text messages on mobile phones, those on Facebook allow messages of sufficient length for the use of the interested parties. In the sample, we have messages from 13 to 138 words. This gives the opportunity for the user to state and argue with relative ease and clarity what they want to communicate. Thus, it is possible to find in the corpus small sentences, such as the one observed in the following text: "I am in love with feer from psychology I have been chicking him for a while friends help", which has a clear syntax, in this case, two juxtaposed sentences (no connector) and a vocative.

Moreover, it is significant that out of 70 examples of the sample, 45 have the subordinate conjunction that, which indicates a predominance of compound sentences. There are 7 causal conjunctions (four because and three since), two concessive conjunctions so (equivalent to although, in example 14) and two adversative conjunctions but. There are five examples of the use of the relative adverb when which always marks a subordinate sentence (within a compound sentence).

Also it is interesting the presence (example 15) of a subordinate sentence in parentheses: "I saw her name when she wrote her email (I’m not a stalker), it was dara or something like that", which shows the variety of structures that users use on that page.

The use of all these syntactic-grammatical elements indicates that despite the relative precariousness (in terms of time and space for writing) experienced by the participants, we are dealing with a complete form of discourse, both in the sense that a great variety of forms of expression emerges, and due to the possibility of a response from the alluded person or any other person interested in the message. Table 2 shows the syntactic characteristics of the examined sample:

Communicative Intention

In the analyzed cases, it should be pointed out that the function that is least used in the messages is the metalinguistic function (the one that refers to the language itself), with only one example, number 46 ("**I didn’t know that having BF and being with someone were totally different hahahahahahahahahaha"). First, there is the appellative function, and the expressive and conative functions are the recurrent functions in all texts. This makes them the primary functions of the analyzed texts. Likewise, regarding the use of verbs, the imperative and indicative mode, the second person and the use of vocatives prevail. The creative aspect is represented by the poetic function although this, together with the representative function is absorbed, by the expressive function. Table 4 shows some samples of the phenomenon.


Nowadays, the Internet and its different applications have been changing the ways of communication. The writing and reading practices as we knew them have undergone certain changes. The arrival of television, at the time, represented a danger for academic circles given the role of the media in language learning. However, all these fears have been transferred to the Internet and its influence on the cultural education of young people, especially in the use they make of language. There are many people who predict the end of formal language as we know it. It will not take long, according to them, for the language to become impoverished and even involute into its most basic forms. In response to this current, there are those who, in a less apocalyptic way, see these changes as a more expressive and even counter-cultural and creative way of using the language. Language will not disappear, it will only evolve as usual over the years.

The era of digitalization imposes changes in the communicative contents that go from the interiorization to the exteriorization of what we feel, i.e. showing ourselves to the world before knowing ourselves. This restructuring of the communicative contents has its maximum exponent in the social networks, means in which the language is aimed at not only transmitting but to interacting. The purpose of the Facebook pages called "Confessions" is to share experiences related to a specific field, in this case, the university. Among the characteristics of this type of pages are the anonymity, an aspect that makes possible the freedom of expression (often exaggerated) of the users, the decontextualization of messages, the possibility to respond to the confessions and to include emoticons, memes, videos or other resources that reinforce the message. Access is free and managed by an administrator, also anonymous. "Confessions" allows the possibility to mix the private with the public, which makes it attractive to users, since it gives them the possibility to do their thing which is considered private by others.

Regarding the orthographic characteristics present in the analyzed texts, the results coincide with studies that show that the user knows the norm but deliberately omits it. This phenomenon as we have pointed out, Martínez de Sousa, (2004, as cited in Gómez, 2007) calls "heterography". In conclusion, it can be stated that, according to what has been analyzed, orthography has been stripped of its normalization function in order to gain expressiveness and creativity in the construction of messages.

With regard to lexical-semantic characteristics, it is important to highlight the colloquial use of the language by the users of these pages. In this study, it can be observed the use of English words in exclamatory phrases, the use of euphemistic words and colloquial and vulgar voices, characteristics that indicate that we are facing a colloquial use rather than a standard use of the language. The results show that the language used in the Facebook page "Confessions" is marked by its level of colloquialism, since it involves characteristics that can be understood as transgressions to the use of the language, in addition to the predominance of the oral level.

Regarding lexical-syntactic characteristics, the results coincide with what was said by Giammatteo & Alban (2009), who state that the syntactic use of words and constructions typical of the cyber language brings it closer to a type of colloquial language. This is can be shown in brief and simple phrases used in the texts of social networks, characteristics that are very common in the oral discourse, which reinforces one of the fundamental characteristics of this type of language that integrates characteristics of the oral form into its structure, since the concept of word class, in relation to both the requirements of internal combination (bases + affixes) and the requirements of external or constructional combination, becomes more permeable and permissive. Undoubtedly, there is a clear intention to transfer the characteristics of orality to writing, to accentuate the emotional/conative nature of this type of communication and, in any case, to display the transgressions of the juvenile slang.

With regard to the intention of the speaker and the message, the expressive and persuasive character of the messages that absorb the representative and poetic function and minimize the metalinguistic function stands out. The expressive function is embodied in most messages given the nature of the analyzed Facebook page. In the texts written, a large number of expressive signs can be observed, such as vocative signs, interjections, diminutives, tone. The cathartic sub-function prevails due to the colloquial nature of the messages. On the other hand, the conative function is essential in this type of messages since it shows the speaker’s intention to draw the attention of the receiver, either to make him think, convince him or induce him to assume part of the speaker’s point of view.

One aspect related to the expressive purposes of the "Confessions" page is its usefulness as an element that modulates the participants’ emotions and mood, they relieve tension there due to the fact that they find in this page a channel in which they have a free way to express their feelings and emotions at the same time as they experience an interaction with other people, which -whether the initial sender has been extreme in his or her opinions or wrong- helps the initiator of the communication to assimilate the observations or negative comments received from others, which contributes to improving the socialization of the person.

Some doubts remain as to whether the language of the Internet or cyber language can have an impact on other spheres, such as education or work, or whether its use is detrimental to the user’s communication skills. In order to solve these problems, it is necessary to carry out comparative and explanatory studies that will provide better insights into the influence and projections of this phenomenon.



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