"Listening to your mum’s voice can make your day". An explorative study about the social functions of voice messages in messaging apps for international students

Master's Thesis, 2019
73 Pages, Grade: 1,6


Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Aims of the study
1.2 The procedure of the work

2 State of research on voice messages
2.1 Definition
2.2 Functionality in different messenger apps
2.3 International usage of voice messages
2.4 Quantitative studies about the use of voice messages

3 Theoretical classification of voice messages
3.1 Between orality and literacy
3.2 Monolog or dialog?
3.3 Paraverbal characteristics

4 Empirical study of voice messages
4.1 Procedure and selection of the sampling
4.2 Method
4.3 Guideline and category formation

5 Evaluation of results
5.1 Category 1: Practicability and speed
5.1.1 For the sender
5.1.2 For the receiver
5.1.3 For the length of the message
5.1.4 Summary and discussion of results
5.2 Category 2: Complexity of the message
5.2.1 Content
5.2.2 Language
5.2.3 Summary and discussion of results
5.3 Category 3: Emotionality and intimacy
5.3.1 Emotionality
5.3.2 Intimacy with the recipient
5.3.3 Intimacy in relation to the place of reception
5.3.4 Summary and discussion of results

6 Conclusions
6.1 Summary
6.2 A prospect: potentials of voice message research



I. Guidelines

II. Overview about the interviews


Since 2013, voice messages can be sent using messaging services such as WhatsApp. Thus, the oral information transfer enters the digital messenger communication, which was previously exclusively based in written form. In German research of communication and linguistics, there are few scientists who have so far dealt with voice messages. They present a new challenge for the media linguistic conception of digital communication, as they fall into a gap between oral and written language utterances. The linguistics professor Katharina König emphasizes this decisive new aspect: "With the integration of voice messages[...] media orality enters the non-simultaneous, quasi-synchronous messenger communication."1 Voice messages bring a kind of ‘answering machine’ option to messenger chats. How does this change digital communication? What are the social functions for the interpersonal exchange of them?

These questions were investigated as part of a qualitative research, for which 20 international students between the ages of 20 and 34 were interviewed in Paris and Sofia. The selection of this sample favors the preservation of a homogeneous group of young adults in the same life situation. The research results showed that, despite the different countries of origin, the students have a similar usage of voice messages. The main benefit of voice messages is that they can be sent faster and easier and are therefore particularly practical in stressful situations. The speed allows more complex information to be recorded in less time. Furthermore, the increased emotionality through one's own voice and consequently a bigger intimacy between two chat partners, play an important role in the social functions of voice messages.

List of figures

Fig. 1: Use of voice messages on WhatsApp (left) and Telegram (right)

Fig. 2: Usage of voice messages in WeChat (left), Facebook messenger (central) and Instagram (right)

Fig. 3: Most-used messenger services in international comparison

Fig. 4: Frequency of voice messages usage depending on the age

Fig. 5: The most frequent receivers of voice messages

Fig. 6: Opinions about voice messages in an online survey

Fig. 7: Classification of voice messages in the proximity-distance model of Koch/ Oesterreicher

Fig. 8: Presentation of the usage of voice messages on the website of WhatsApp

Fig. 9: Three factors for the practicability of voice messages

1 Introduction

In conjunction with digitalization, spoken language is becoming more and more present in people's everyday lives - whether through voice assistants in the car, podcasts on the go or self-produced voice messages in the messenger chats. Therefore, the fields of media linguistics and communication science have a responsibility to classify this new oral form of information exchange. Voice messages are particularly interesting to look at, as they come close to a virtually produced conversation through the possibility of a quick exchange using one's own voice. However, the "voice snippets" are separated from each other within a messenger chat. This paper aims to better understand the impact of this new form of communication on our fast, digital, always accessible and mobile society.

More than two billion people worldwide use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or other applications of the "Facebook Family". In addition, there are more than one billion Chinese users of the provider WeChat.2 The relevance of the exchange of information via messenger services is therefore becoming more visible. But are similar usage patterns recognizable despite the multitude of languages? This can only be found out by cross-border, multilingual research. For this reason, this work focuses on a target group from different countries and language circles that comes together during their studies abroad.

The communication behavior of young people is particularly interesting, as it is constantly changing due to new apps and increased mobility through the internet. It is sometimes harder for older generations to follow and understand these new trends. Therefore, research has a responsibility to track and document the change in digital, interpersonal exchange. In terms of oral communication, one development is especially striking: young people are increasingly less likely to make phone calls. In a survey in 2018, 88 percent of those over 35 years old said they make calls several times a week or daily, while only 55 percent of 14- to 24-year-olds do so.3

In an interview for the qualitative research of this work, a 20-year-old student confirmed: "I don't do any phone calls at all".4 In a newspaper report, a 23-year-old student also talks about the hassle of making a phone call, especially finding time for an appointment for it. It is very rare, e.g. if a friend had been on holiday. Sometimes the rejection increases to such an extent that the phone is not even picked up when it rings: "Sometimes I don't answer the phone at all because I think: If it's really important, the person will call or write again."5 The young students prefer voice messages. But what is the advantage of this new way of oral communication via digital messenger services?

1.1 Aims of the study

The aim of this master thesis is to find out the social functions of voice messages in the messenger communication of international students. It should investigate which benefits this type of communication offers in contrast to text messages or phone calls. The research question focuses on the social functions, because it relates to intersubjective communication and the expediency for the users. More than just looking for advantages, the study should find out which role voice messages take in the construct of digital communication through their orality for the social life of the interlocutors. Further questions will be asked: When and why are voice messages used? How and by what means can they broaden messenger communication? When do they replace a text message or a phone call for the audience surveyed?

To be more precise, it's about the trigger or the reason why users choose to record a message instead of writing it. The thematic context, the situation in everyday life and the recipient must be considered. This social aspect of communication is important for future research in order to be able to find out how voice messages change the exchange of information in society and possibly also our language. The research question is still asked quite openly because there are no previous studies to base it on. Accordingly, the research method is deliberately qualitative and explorative to approach the subject comprehensively.

In order to cover a homogeneous group of the same age and in the same life situation, the study focuses on international students. By narrowing the target group, the results can be better compared with each other and have a higher significance in the evaluation. Furthermore, the aspect of the foreign language is interesting, as it has not yet been considered in connection with voice messages. International students usually speak English with new friends in their semester abroad and their mother tongue with family and friends in their home country. Does this also affect the use of voice messages? Comparing different views from several countries could fill this research gap.

1.2 The procedure of the work

Firstly, the voice message is defined as a new object in messenger mobile communication and its functions and operating methods are described. Secondly, the technical parameters of the messenger apps WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Instagram Messenger are stated and compared. These five providers were mentioned in the interviews with the students and are therefore explained in advance, with the focus mainly on WhatsApp, as this service is by far the most used. In addition, the history of voice messages is briefly discussed in order to explain when this feature has been available in the various messenger apps.

In the third sub-chapter, a world map visualizes which country uses which messenger service the most. From this it can be inferred which previously mentioned functions of the usage of voice messages must be considered in the different countries dealt with. This background knowledge provides an overview of the international use of voice messages and thus forms an important basis for understanding the study carried out in this work.

Subchapter 2.4 presents quantitative studies on the use of voice messages. Since the subject of the research is still very young, there are only three scientific papers by Katharina König and Tim Moritz Hector from a research project of the University of Münster. In addition, there are four surveys and polls directly related to voice messages which show usage patterns in terms of age or frequency in graphs and diagrams. Furthermore, the conflicting discussion in online media and blogs is briefly discussed in order to round off the research overview.

In the third part of this thesis, voice messages are to be placed in a communication science context. This theoretical part deals firstly with the dichotomy between orality and literacy. Since voice messages are embedded as a spoken element in a text-based chat, they stand between oral and written language. Which characteristics can be assigned to them by both concepts will be analysed on the basis of the proximity-distance model of the linguists Peter Koch and Wulf Oesterreicher (1985). Angelika Storrer’s (2001) comments on chat-based communication and Katharina König’s (2019) classifications of voice messages contribute further current insights. Secondly, the question of whether voice messages can be understood as monologs or dialogs should be answered. This will also address the above model. Thirdly, it is intended to show how different aspects of the voice, such as a certain tone or pauses, create a further level of information in voice messages. These so-called paraverbal characteristics are analyzed for this purpose regarding the possible use in audio messages.

The fourth chapter covers the method for the empirical study. First, it explains the procedure of the survey, including contacting respondents and justifying the selection of sampling of international students. Secondly, the qualitative research method is explained, and its choice is justified. The aim is to show how the subject of voice messages can be approached in terms of research and what concepts are needed to understand this use of language and to be able to analyze it in more detail in the future. Thirdly, the guide for the questions in the interviews is described. The procedure is always reflective and critical. Fourthly, it explains how the responses were used to form the categories for the evaluation of the research.

In the fifth chapter, the results of the interviews are evaluated based on the three categories explained above. This is intended to answer the research question about the social functions of voice messages for international students. At the end of each subchapter, the results are summarized and discussed. The sixth chapter summarizes all of the findings of the study. In retrospect, the research work and surveys showed in chapter 2.4 will be reviewed. In the outlook possible future research areas will be explained as well as which potentials voice messages could have outside the private messenger communication.

2 State of research on voice messages

2.1 Definition

A voice message is an audio recording that can be sent like a text message in messenger services. In the literature used for this work it is also called audio posting.6 Alternative terms are audio message, voice text, voice note or voice memo. The messenger service WhatsApp calls the feature "push-to-talk message" or "voice message". Voice messages should not be confused with the text dictation function (also: voice input or voice-to-text), in which a text spoken into the mobile phone is written by the application. This dictation function runs through speech recognition software programmed using artificial intelligence for the audio output. Voice messages, on the other hand, play the personal voice of the speaker directly.

Sending and listening to voice messages is free of charge, as is the entire use of Messenger services. In some of them there is a one-minute-limit for voice messages, in others there is none. The frequency of recording is not limited in any of the apps, but audio messages take up slightly more space on the smartphone than text messages.

2.2 Functionality in different messenger apps

To start recording a voice message, the microphone icon has to be pushed, which is why the term "push-to-talk" is used. At the end of 2017, WhatsApp introduced a new feature that eliminated the need to continually press the record button during recording.7 This makes it easier to record longer voice messages since the finger does not have to touch the microphone symbol throughout the message recording.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 1: Usage of voice messages on WhatsApp (left) and Telegram (right)

(Source: Own Screenshot)

On WhatsApp and Telegram, a messenger service founded by a Russian student, the length of voice messages is unlimited. In the Chinese Messenger WeChat, in Facebook Messenger as well as in Instagram's Chat feature, the limit of one minute must be observed. To listen to a voice message, the play button must be pressed briefly, as when playing a song. Most messenger services automatically play multiple voice messages one after the other, but not in the Instagram chat. On Telegram, the recording can even be played at double speed by the "2x" button (visible in the right graphic shown above, at the top right of the x).

The functions also include navigation within a voice message. In WeChat and Facebook Messenger, it is not possible to navigate within an audio recording, e.g. rewind a track. This is possible with the other three providers. An overview of the functions in the five Messenger services mentioned can be seen in the following table:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Tab.1: How voice messages work in the five covered messenger services

(Source: Own representation)

The first voice messages were sent in 2011 by the Chinese messenger provider WeChat. At the beginning of 2013, Facebook introduced the function on its independent messenger app. WhatsApp followed a few months later. In spring 2014, Telegram users were also able to send voice messages. In 2016, Apple integrated the function into the "iMessage" app and made it available on the one billion active iPhones at that time. The additional function was added to Instagram at the end of 2018 in the private chat histories, but in this app they do not have a primary relevance, since the user’s profile, posted photos and stories are the brand’s core.8

The following figure shows the use of voice messages in a private, dyadic (gr. dyas = twoness, between two people) chat. The messenger services WeChat, Facebook Messengerand Instagram are shown in comparison, since the other two services were shown in the previous graphic.

The highlighting of the voice recording function in WeChat (left) in contrast to the layouts of the other four messenger services is striking. There the function is given a larger recording field for the finger ("Hold and Speak") and not just a small microphone symbol, on which at most the fingertip fits. This shows a different priority setting in favor of audio recording by WeChats and sets the voice message graphically to a level with the text message. The user can switch between written and "oral keyboard". It can be assumed that voice messages are more popular in China than in other countries, since voice input with Chinese characters may be more complex than with other writing systems. On the other hand, from the point of view of the four other messenger service providers, this observation can be explained by the fact that voice messages require functionally less space for oral input than the keyboard for written typing. This allows other message types such as picture or video to be placed in the same row next to the microphone icon for voice messages.

Unlike previous features such as voicemail or answering machine, voice messages are integrated into chat history and can be used alternately with text messages. The extent to which they stand linguistically and in terms of communication science between media orality and literacy is explained in the theory section in chapter 3.1. In the following chapter, it will be shown in which countries which messenger services are most frequently used. From this it can then be inferred which different functions must be observed for the use of voice messages.

2.3 International usage of voice messages

Since students from 15 different countries were interviewed for the empirical research, it is important to take a look at the international use of messenger services. Every year, the creative agency "We are social" publishes the Digital Report in cooperation with the social media management platform "Hootsuite", in which the usage behavior in the internet is compared internationally. Using data from the IT company "SimiliarWeb" and user numbers from the Google Play Store, they developed the following graphic, which shows the most used messenger services per country worldwide:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 3: Most-used messenger services in international comparison

(Source: We are social/ Hootsuite)9

All green areas are countries where WhatsApp is used the most, which accounts for the largest number of countries, with 133 out of 234. Three of the five most populous countries (India, Indonesia and Brazil), most European countries and all of Latin America fall into the hands of WhatsApp. In second place is Facebook Messenger, which is the most popular in the third most populous country, the USA. But the importance of WeChat (red) should not be underestimated either: Although the app is used most frequently in only three countries, one of them is China, the world's most populous country with a population of 1.38 billion people. The other places are taken by Viber in purple, Line in yellow and Telegram in light blue.

The purpose of this map is to show which messenger is used the most in the countries of the interviewees to analyse the different functions of them and their effect on the interviewees’ use. The time limit set by Facebook Messenger and WeChat, which was discussed earlier, is one example. Therefore, it is probably more common in China and the US to send shorter voice messages, as they are technically limited to one minute. These kinds of aspects have to be considered in the empirical research later.

However, most respondents come from countries where WhatsApp is most popular. Since there is no time limit for voice messages, it is relevant to ask for the length depending on the type of message. WhatsApp is also the most widely used in Germany which makes comparisons to other studies easier later.

2.4 Quantitative studies about the use of voice messages

In scientific research, there are currently only a few papers that directly relate to voice messages. Since 2017, the Linguistic Professor Dr. Katharina König has been researching the "dialog of voice messages" at the University of Münster. The aim of the research project is to demonstrate the usage possibilities of this subject in order to initiate further specific investigations. In particular, the question is to what extent dialogs between participants can arise through the exchange of voice messages. König transcribes voice messages which are sent to her by students and then analyses the dialogicity of them.

One finding was that there are different levels of dialogicity, even in some chats which only consist of voice messages, the so-called "voice message dialogs"10. These results are included in the theoretical classification in the following chapter. However, they do not indicate the reason why a voice message is useful in specific situations. Another work that emerged from this research project deals with the question of how voice messages are designed as spectacles. Under the title "On the Theatricality of Voice Messages", König and Hector investigate how usage contexts arise through the different use of voice or ambient sounds. In an interview, König says: "What is important is not only what is said, but also how something is presented. Users sing, speak softly or loudly to express boredom or excitement."11

The student assistant of the research project, Tim Moritz Hector, wrote his bachelor's thesis on the topic "Usage contexts and dialogicity of WhatsApp voice messages" in 2017. For his quantitative data analysis, he had a corpus of 159 voice messages from students. The origin and procurement of them is not mentioned. The first part of the usage contexts is relevant for this work, as Hector deals with the reasons for recording a voice message. He notes two rough contexts: first, he calls the avoidance of another drawing system, i.e. a written text. He gives two examples: one is when typing is avoided by driving at the same time, and the other when the effort of writing a longer message is too big. The last-mentioned phenomenon is Hector's most common reason, but he does not go into more detail about it. For the second usage context for voice messages, he cites the use of sound and gives an example of a meowing cat in one of the recordings.12

In the study it can be observed that quantitative data with a transcription of voice messages have a limited significance, since only these ones can be considered in which a reason is also mentioned. In addition, the scope of the bachelor's thesis limits further explanations and discussions. Hector also places a greater emphasis on the second part of his work about the dialogicity of voice messages. There he examines different types of embedding, such as the most common form between two text messages.

The findings of the mentioned research will flow into the present work. Nevertheless, it is problematic that no extensive studies are yet available which analyse the different uses of voice messages based on a larger data collection. This would allow researchers to investigate certain characteristics, e.g. sentence formation or the situation of the recording. In the two studies mentioned above, only audio recordings of students and pupils from North Rhine-Westphalia are examined, so that sampling is additionally very limited. In general, it is difficult to get access to voice messages for scientific research, as they are not posted publicly on the web like chat threads. Therefore, surveys about one's own use are often the only method that remains to investigate this research object.

Quantitative surveys were conducted in relation to voice messages from four different institutions (as of September 2019). The Federal Association of Digital Economy (German: Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft, short: BVDW) published a study with several questions on usage behaviour in March 2019. More than 1000 people were asked about the frequency of use, the advantages and disadvantages and the recipients of voice messages. It is divided by age, gender and origins of East and West Germany.13

In general, a division of the population is emerging: either Germans use voice messages frequently or not at all. This result was also represented by a survey conducted by the Federal Association of Information Economy, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom) in May 2018. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they used voice messages, while the other fourty-five percent said they did not. However, the respondents were only asked whether they had used voice messages in the last three months. This shows a very generalized and undifferentiated examination of the topic.14

The BVDW study has been more thorough with various parameters and age categories. As a result, the younger the users, the more often they send voice messages. Thus, there is a generational difference, i.e. younger respondents use voice messages daily or several times a week (58 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds) and older people use it rarely or never (70 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds). The graphic on the next page illustrates this generational split.

The question of the frequency of use was also examined in a study by Forsa on behalf of the Society for German Language (German: Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache, short: GfdS) on "Language Communication in the Digital World", in which voice messages are included in a subchapter.15 Compared to the BVDW study, it can be seen that the daily use of the youngest target group of 14 percent (forsa, January 2018) has increased to 42 percent (BVDW, March 2019). In the forsa survey more than a year ago, most young respondents used voice messages several times a week, not daily. There is a clear increase, although it cannot be fully recognized, as it is not the same selection of respondents.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 4: Frequency of voice messages usage depending on the age

(Source: BVDW / Statista)16

Again, it becomes clear that there are no sufficient studies that consider the research topic over a longer period of time. Since the results from this age group are nevertheless interesting for the research of this work, the observations will be taken up again later. Most surveys only cover the parameters of age, gender and frequency of use. The BVDW study produced another interesting result, which can be seen in the following graph. Depending on the age groups, the respective recipients of voice messages differ as well.

The statistics show that the younger target group mainly sends voice messages to friends - among the under-24s even 9 out of 10 respondents, how the graphic on the next page shows. Although "friends" is the most popular recipient group in the overall picture, it is noticeable that older respondents send audio messages almost as often to family members. This is also because older people generally have a larger family of their own, including their own children and grandchildren. For young people, the circle of friends is more of a focus.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 5: The most frequent receivers of voice messages

(Source: Borchers/ BVDW, 2019)

This is also evident in their usage behavior. The situation is similar with a fixed life partner, to which the slightly older group of respondents also send audio recordings more often than the young one. It is rare for voice messages to be sent to work colleagues. Only 15 percent of the youngest target group said so. However, it is relatively difficult to see who exactly is meant by work colleagues. For 16-24-year-olds, this could be either school or study colleagues or contacts in the context of a side job or training.

The fourth and last available survey was conducted by YouGov and Statista in December 2018 regarding opinions about voice messages. The figure on the next page shows that the majority of respondents see advantages rather than disadvantages because the top four most frequently selected responses are positive. Starting from the first answer, the respondents think that voice messages are practical (71 percent), that misunderstandings can be avoided (70 percent), that you can express yourself better in voice messages (69 percent) and that they are more personal than written messages (60 percent). Only in fifth place stands the answer "Whoever sends voice messages, can call immediately”. This is followed by opinions that they are too time consuming to listen to or that people only record them to hear themselves speaking.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 6: Opinions about voice messages in an online survey

(Source: YouGov / Statista)17

A pro-con discussion like that also takes place on the internet. Some journalists speak of a "voice message plague"18 or that they feel deprived of their lives by this "mental abuse".19 Others love voice messages and declare them "in a world where everything has to go faster and faster [as] small islands of freedom from stress."20 A journalist from “Deutschlandfunk Kultur” tries to analyze the "hate object voice message" neutrally and finds that in new forms of communication, people's habit often provokes displeasure, i.e. they only rebel because they are used to other things. He advises "at least once not to fall for this ancient scheme."21

It is becoming apparent that voice messages pose challenges for intersubjective communication in many ways. This is intended as an invitation to classify them theoretically in the following chapter.

3 Theoretical classification of voice messages

3.1 Between orality and literacy

To adopt an unbiased view of the principles of language, it seems logical to divide language into either spoken or written. The linguist Angelika Storrer writes in her essay on the communication-theoretical classification of chat communication: "[For] the medium in which language is realized [...] there are only two options: the phonetic realization in spoken language or the graphical realization in written language."22

However, this concerns only the material realization and not the choice of language itself. For example, lectures at a science conference and the telephone conversation with a best friend are hold orally, but do not correspond to nearly the same use of language. The same applies to written language reproduction e.g. SMS texts or legal texts. The gap between oral and written language shows the variety of language in general, but also the complexity of incorporation into a scientific model.23 So what are the characteristics of the two poles of orality and literacy? And where can voice messages be classified in it?

According to the model of Koch / Oesterreicher, the above-mentioned phonetic and graphic division concerns only the mediality of language, i.e. in which medium it is reproduced. For this purpose, it seems clear in the first place that voice messages can be assigned to the phonetic realization, since it is a spoken message with one's own voice. However, the transport of the message is only achieved by using a smartphone, which, unlike a phone or microphone, cannot be used exclusively for oral use. Text messages are often sent between voice messages in a messenger chat. This integration into a written-based application, which was primarily developed for sending text messages, makes the voice message hover between oral and written from a media perspective.

For the classification from an anthropological and communication-scientific perspective, it is therefore necessary to look at the second axis of differentiation of the model: the conception of the language used. Since the present work researches the benefits for the communicators, it is not possible to use the results from linguistics. This classifies chats as an oral language form in which the spoken everyday language is "only" written. Linguistic research examines, for example, sentence construction, abbreviations or the use of pronouns. However, these issues are not at debate here.24

Let us now look at the conceptual aspects of orality and literacy according to the model of Koch / Oesterreicher. For the concept of orality, spatial temporal as well as emotional and social proximity is important. This is given in face-to-face communication by being together in a room at the same time, in a phone call at least the temporal component is given by the synchronicity of the conversation. Further, the familiarity of the communication partners plays a role. This makes emotionality and spontaneity in the language more possible than in written texts.

This aspect is particularly important for WhatsApp, as the Messenger service is very often used in customer contact with companies, such as mobile phone contract issues, and the language in such a message is different from that to a close friend. It is therefore important to look more closely at the recipients of voice messages in the later research.

Written language, on the other hand, is conceptually characterized by spatial- temporal, social and emotional distance. The production of a written work can date back centuries, although it is still read today. This makes written texts materially durable and less transient or fleeting. Otherwise it leads to a greater discrepancy between the author and the reader. Their language is as different from each other as the social realities at the time.25 On the Internet, this distance is enhanced by the possibilities of anonymity.

In the concepts of orality and literacy according to Koch/ Oesterreicher, proximity and distance form "two opposite endpoints of a continuum".26 However, the different forms of communication often bear characteristics of both sides and can therefore only be distinguished in approximation. Thus, an oral lecture based on a manuscript can show the linguistic characteristics of a written dissertation, even if their medial presentation is different. On the other hand, private notes can have characteristics of spoken language, even though they are fixed in writing.27

For the classification of voice messages, the time factor is decisive. These are spontaneous utterances, but unlike a phone call or face-to-face conversation, there is no direct answer, and communication does not take place in real time.


1 König, Katharina/ Hector, Tim (2017): On the theatricality of voice messages. In: Networx No. 79. Münster, p. 5.

2 Cf. Messenger People (2019): User numbers of Messenger Apps in Germany and Worldwide. URL: https://www.messengerpeople.com/de/weltweite-nutzer-statistik-fuer-whatsapp-wechat-und-andere-messenger/

3 Cf. Society for German Language (2018): Linguistic Communication in the Digital World. a representative survey conducted by forsa, p. 2, URL & PDF file: https://gfds.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sprachliche- Kommunikation-in-der-digitalen-Welt-2018.pdf.

4 Interview 13, min. 5:24.

5 Howahl, Georg (2019): Why teenagers are reluctant to make phone calls in: Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 13.04.2019.

6 Cf. König/ Hector, 2017, p. 11.

7 Cf. Bauer, Vera (2017): WhatsApp Update: Voice recording will be easier in the future. URL: https://www.mobilegeeks.de/news/whatsapp-update-sprachaufzeichnung-gehen-zukuenftig-leichter-von- der-hand/.

8 Cf. Bereznak, Alyssa (2018): Is the Era of Voice Texting Upon Us?. URL: https://www.theringer.com/tech/2018/11/5/18056776/voice-texting-whatsapp-apple-2018.

9 Cf. We are social (2019): Digital report 2019, Slide 83, URL: https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019.

10 König/ Hector (2019): New Media - New Orality? For the dialogicity of WhatsApp voice messages.in: Marx/ Schmidt: Interaction and Media, Winter, Heidelberg, p. 74.

11 Körner, Theo (2017): „Voice messages are often designed as a spectacle" in: University newspaper "wissen|leben" No. 8. URL: https://www.uni-muenster.de/news/view.php?cmdid=9301.

12 Cf. Hector, Tim (2017): Usage contexts and dialogicity of WhatsApp voice messages. Münster, p. 21.

13 Cf. Borchers, Daniel (2019): BVDW-Study: 69 percent of Germans send voice messages via WhatsApp & Co. URL & PDF File: https://www.bvdw.org/der-bvdw/news/detail/artikel/bvdw-studie-69-prozent-der-deutschen- verschicken-sprachnachrichten-per-whatsapp-co/.

14 Cf. Bitkom (2018): Much more than just texts: Every second Messenger user sends voice messages. URL:https://www.bitkom.org/Presse/Presseinformation/Viel-mehr-als-nur-Texten-Jeder-zweite-Messenger-Nutzer- verschickt-Sprachnachrichten.html.

15 Cf. Society for German Language, 2018

16 Cf. Statista (2019): Frequency of sending voice messages by age group in Germany 2019. URL: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/984781/umfrage/haeufigkeit-des-versands-von-sprachnachrichten- nach-altersgruppen-in-deutschland/ (similiar illustration in BVDW-PDF, cf. Borchers)

17 Cf. YouGov/ Statista (2019): The pros and cons of voice messages. URL: https://de.statista.com/infografik/16534/das-fuer-und-wider-von-sprachnachrichten/.

18 Gillen, Tobias: The voice-message plague: People, don't forget to write! URL:https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2016/03/24/sprachnachrichten/.

19 Tomasic, Sara (2018): This is mental abuse. URL: http://www.taz.de/l5548955/.

20 Mayr, Anna (2018): Just babble! URL:https://www.zeit.de/2018/13/sprachnachricht-digitale-kommunikation- zukunft-kulturtechnik.

21 Park, Enno (2018): New technique, old nagging. URL: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/hassobiekt- sprachnachricht-neue-technik-altes-qenoerqel.1005.de.html?dram:article id=433877.

22 Storrer, Angelika (2001): Typed conversations or dialogical texts? On the communication-theorical classification of chat communication, Berlin and others, p. 5.

23 Cf. Koch, Peter/ Oesterreicher, Wulf (2011): Spoken language in Romania. Romanistic Workbooks 31. Berlin/ New York, p. 3.

24 Cf. Storrer, 2001, p. 2.

25 Cf. Koch/ Oesterreicher, 1994, p. 587 in: Storrer, 2001, p. 5.

26 Koch/ Oesterreicher, 1994, p. 588 in: Storrer, 2001, p. 6.

27 Cf. Storrer, 2001, p. 6.

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"Listening to your mum’s voice can make your day". An explorative study about the social functions of voice messages in messaging apps for international students
European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
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Voice messages, digital communication, sociolinguistics, orality, literacy
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Lisa Fritsch (Author), 2019, "Listening to your mum’s voice can make your day". An explorative study about the social functions of voice messages in messaging apps for international students, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/511680


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