Pragmatic Analysis Of WhatsApp Chats

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Pragmatic Analysis Of WhatsApp Chats


WhatsApp has significantly penetrated the various spheres of peoples’ lives all over the world. The purpose of this study is to look at two aspects of WhatsApp text-based status notifications; namely, the most common discursive realizations and the major pragmatic themes. A sample of 846 status notifications for WhatsApp users’ profiles was analyzed. Data, which were gathered, were from three sets of male and female users. The status notifications were qualitatively analysed in terms of both the most common discursive realizations and pragmatic themes. The major findings of the study showed a variety in the discursive realizations, including self-generated statuses, which marked 82%, and auto-generated statuses, which made 18%. Data revealed also that the most used type of the self-generated was the pure text, which marked 53%. In terms of the major pragmatic themes employed by the users, data showed four main categories: religious, social, personal and national. The findings were then discussed, justified, and compared with results from previous research. The Study concludes with the limitations and future research recommendations.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Language is one of the most complex of all human specific phenomena. Its convolutions of parts and meanings. It goes beyond its semiotic possibility of conveying information at a communicative level to have an art form that exists by it alone which is known as the literary art.

At the communicative level, it involves other tools to aid interlocution namely voice modulation and pitch, gesticulations which for the sake of this study include facial expressions and feedbacks from the other person for the clarification of meanings and understanding. At interpersonal level, language is always based on contextual sense making as the complexity of language always bear upon every utterance.

Remove the verbal and personal arrangement of this semiotic speech act and all the other tools for sense making being to go with it. So that one runs the risk of being misunderstood which defeats the aim conversations in all levels. However, with the advancement of technology especially at telecommunications sector, people now rely much on texting and the instant messaging platforms are becoming more and more popular across social classes and with this popularity comes the need for its acceptance for formal and informal purposes.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The use of the WhatsApp instant messaging application involves a two way attempt to decipher interlocution beyond the texts. So that feature like emojis and Smiley’s are added to aid understanding while short hands are also evolved and their meanings learnt by users and new users. However, a greater chance of sense making still lies on the texts and how users are able to adjust to each persons texting pattern. At any event, one relies majorly on context in order to make sense of what is being read and when this fails, one asks for clarifications from the other person(s). This is the problem that has given rise to the present research: to conduct a pragmatic study of WhatsApp chats.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. What are the common methods through which users arrive at a contextual meaning of texts on the Application.
  2. How far can the Contextual theory of semantics with all its shortcomings bear upon any study such as the present one.
  3. What are the troubles users tend to run into in terms of sense making on the platform
  4. And how peculiar are the texting styles across different regions

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The major purposes of this research work is to carry out a pragmatic analysis of the intricacies of WhatsApp instant messaging application. This would be achieved through:

An identification of the various common methods users employ in contextual sense making process.
The research will describe in detail the movement of contextual sense making among users of the instant messaging application. This description will aim at looking at these methods as they develop into popularity among a particular age range usually the millennials.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The present research work is deeply significant especially as it closes up academic gap which has called it up. In language study especially the part the linguistics are mandated to study, the research will give models for reading WhatsApp conversations and other conversations on similar platforms with similar features like Imo, Instagram Direct Message and Facebook Messenger.

In the wider picture and seeing that many legal conversation go on with the use of the app, forensics and criminal law can gain insight from the work done here in understanding the how to handle conversations of this kind tendered as evidence in a legal action.

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The assumption on which this research work is predicated upon the assumption that contextual sense making process is what is used by users of the instant messaging application: WhatsApp.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The focus of this research work is on deciphering how sense making in WhatsApp chats are predicated upon the context of messages. While focusing on WhatsApp references would be made as the discussion progresses to other instant messaging software like the Facebook Messenger app and Imo.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

The major limitations of this research work is time issue and with the nature of the research which would require a sifting through of a random cross section of WhatsApp chats in order to better carry out the study which would also require lots of time and financial resources.

1.9 Definition of Terms


This is the branch of linguistics that enquires into how context of texts and word usages bear upon their meanings.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Concluding Remarks

This paper is intended to examine the discursive realisations and the thematic categorization of a sample of 846 text-based status notifications of WhatsApp users in the year 2017. The sample comprised three sets of data for a male university professor, a female housewife, and a female high school student. The major findings of the study showed a variety in the discursive realisations, including auto-generated statuses, which marked 18%, and the self-generated statuses, which made 82%. The most recurrent self-generated type was the purely text (53%). Data also revealed that the most used themes are religious (37%), social (27%), and personal (23%). The findings of the present study are hoped to have added more glimpse of grasping WhatsApp users’ preferences and purposes on using the statuses, along with previous research in this area. This would primarily be valuable for expanding our understanding of the discursive and pragmatic features used with the facilities offered by this application.

5.2. Limitations and Future Research

As the data used in this study were collected before the upgrading of the WhatsApp status into a multimodal one, this study was confined to the text-based statuses only. WhatsApp statuses in the new multimodal, however, would be an immense source of data that could result in further insights when it is looked at by applied linguists. This new multimodal status can provide an excellent platform for eliciting insight in the discourse and pragmatics of the forms used. Researchers can investigate various relevant facets, including differences between people of different nationalities, genders, ages, and levels of education.

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