The traditional dichotomy between spoken vs. written language cannot be unambiguously applied in certain cases. If a written text is read out aloud, it is no longer perceived via visual signals. If a conversation is (literally) recorded in writing, does it become a piece of written language? The number of doubtful cases is increased by chat communication that appears to be intermediate between spoken and written language use. Formally, it is a case of written communication, yet in terms of its function, chat takes sides with spoken utterances. The communicator does not see or hear her communicative partner; but there is practically no time lag between sending and receiving the message, unlike in usual forms of written communication. The novelty of this genre, then, is that it is interactive, synchronous and written at the same time; its unusual character resides in the immediacy of visual communication. In order to come closer to a solution, the author reviews the characteristics of Koch and Oesterreicher's poles of proximity vs. distance, as well as those of a new system in which the notions of 'written' and 'spoken' are complemented by 'conceptional' and 'medial'. Finally, the various genres of internet communication (such as e-mail, chat, forum, e-card, ICQ, sms) are classified according to the new criteria proposed.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.