Scholars: e-mail reveals 'language of love'

Linguistics doctoral candidate Jan Claas Freienstein, who led a research seminar on the subject at the University of Münster, said that the intimacy expressed in e-mail closely resembles that in speech, unlike handwritten letters. He and his colleagues found e-mail an ideal way to study the "language of love," since people would not speak openly and intimately in the presence of a microphone, he said.

"People sit at the keyboard and hack (e-mail) out quickly," he said, using slang phrases more common in spoken speech, and spending little time on niceties like spelling and grammar. "And because the means of transmission is so much immediate, you get an answer back more quickly," meaning e-mail sweet nothings are more like real-life conversations.

Freienstein shared a few examples with a reporter. They included a message in German beginning:

"hello, hello... didn't you say i should get undressed?! i've been standing here stark naked for two hours in front of my computer and nothing is happening!!!"

What comes next is perhaps better left to the reader's imagination.

Students were asked to bring examples of e-mail love letters -- with all names and identifying characteristics removed -- as a requirement for participation in the seminar. Many of these were hard to decipher, said Freienstein, because the lovers used a form of "code language" between each other. "Often there's a second level of communication that an outsider can't understand. It may be because (e-mail) users are afraid they don't have total privacy," he said.

Intimate e-mail is not likely to kill off verbal murmurings of love, though. According to Freienstein, lovers still reach for the telephone in times of crisis, such as an impending breakup.

Though not always. One example he cites reads:

"1) Leave me alone.

2) I have nothing to do with you. In particular, I do not want to help you.

3) This mail is the last message you will get from me. I will not contact you in future. Any possible, un-wished for messages from you will not be acknowledged: e-mails immediately deleted, letters thrown away unread, telephone receiver hung up. And I absolutely do not want to see you. Find someone else to play with."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Perera

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?