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Title: Closed communication in open space : the hidden functions of linguistic ambiguity on social media
Authors: Wu, Linhan
Keywords: Humanities::Language
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Wu, L. (2021). Closed communication in open space : the hidden functions of linguistic ambiguity on social media. Final Year Project (FYP), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Project: CS/20/039 
Abstract: Prevalent intentional use of ambiguous language suggests that communication may not only serve to seek information so as to reduce uncertainty. From this perspective, this study attempts to identify hidden functions of linguistic ambiguity by examining characteristics of messages, sources, receivers and their social relationships. As those in mutual relationships share similar frames of reference, there is a lesser need for precise communication. Hence, more ambiguous expressions would be intentionally used, excluding outsiders from the conversations. We therefore hypothesise that levels of ambiguity are higher in communication between those in mutual relationships than between those in weak relationships or those who are unrelated. Our hypothesis was tested using data extracted from 7.5 million tweets streamed over 55 days during the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. To quantify the ambiguity of a total of 276,890 pairs of tweets, we proposed a computational method based on word2vec. Further, we examined the effects of social relationship on ambiguity using ANCOVA. Preliminary results suggest that higher ambiguity is attributed to mutual relationships between sources and receivers. The findings of the current study are expected to deepen our understanding of the functions of ambiguity in communication taking place in open, public settings, such as social media.
Schools: Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information 
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI/CA)

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