SMS FOLKLORE - THE LINGUISTIC IMAGE OF MINIMALISTIC FOLKLORE I.
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The author previously published three papers in this journal concerning the world of SMS: on election SMSs (2003), on SMS as electronic graffiti (2004), and on SMS news (2005). In the present, concluding paper of the series, the folklore-type characteristics of SMS messages are investigated, using methods of folkloristics, textology, and anthropological linguistics. The theoretical point of departure is that folklore phenomena do exist irrespective of historical period or social layer. This is the basis of present-day folklore (also known as post-folklore) or, as it is also referred to in this paper: e-folklore, minimalistic folklore, computer folklore, or SMS folklore. Folklore-type characteristics of the techno-cultural world are described in terms of the paradigms of tradition vs. innovation, spoken vs. written communication (mediality), international vs. national aspects, etc. Within e-folklore, the author's special interest lies in SMS folklore. The most typical text types of SMS folklore are discussed in the following thematic order: festive messages, courtship/ love, chain letters (forwarded letters), funny/tricky/misleading texts, maxims. After a folkloristic/linguistic analysis of the corpus, the author states that SMS as a means of social communication offers human relationships, in particular, those formed by folklore messages, not only a novel medium but also a novel quality. It is not simply the case that traditional Christmas, Easter etc. postcards undergo a shift of medium and can be sent as SMS messages from now on. Three features of that novel quality are as follows: (a) extension of the human brain, of folklore memory (SMS storage, internet databases), (b) automation of contacts: mobile phones and SMS make keeping in touch easy, (c) the psychology of contacts: SMS psychologically alleviates a number of types of inhibition; in other words, messages can be sent by SMS practically uninhibited. It is to be emphasized that although SMS folklore does exhibit anthropological, 'eternally human' characteristics in may ways, it also shows particular features of what is known as postfolklore rather than traditional folklore, due to changes in the general circumstances.
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