In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Cyberpragmatics

  • Introduction
  • Foundation of Cyberpragmatics
  • References on General Issues of Cyberpragmatics
  • Bibliography on Cyberpragmatics
  • Social Media
  • The Blurring of Online/Offline Interaction
  • Identity Online: Self and Community
  • (Im)politeness
  • Language Teaching

Linguistics Cyberpragmatics
Francisco Yus
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0281


The term cyberpragmatics was coined as a proposal to study Internet-mediated communication from a cognitive pragmatics point of view and, more specifically, from the theoretical framework of relevance theory, although other theoretical approaches were also addressed where appropriate. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics article “Relevance Theory.” One of its aims is to analyze why users often find relevance in certain discourses even though several “richer” options of contextualization (e.g., free video calls) are also available. It also analyzes how users fill the gap between what is coded (typed, recorded as audio file, etc.) and what is eventually interpreted (i.e., inferred) and the role of technological aspects of Internet communication (i.e., app interfaces on smartphones) in the eventual assessment of relevance. Other cyberpragmatic claims and research issues include the following: In Internet communication, just as in face-to-face communication, the addresser users have communicative intentions and have to devise their messages in such a way that the intended interpretation is selected by their addressee users. Similarly, Internet users resort to inferential strategies when interpreting messages on the Net, but these do not differ from the ones that they use in the interpretation of utterances in F2F communication with physical co-presence. The characteristics of the different applications for Internet communication affect the quality and quantity of contextual information accessed by users, the mental effort devoted to interpretation, and the choice of an interpretation. For example, there is a link between relevance and the usability of interfaces of programs for Internet communication: The assessment of relevance when interpreting Internet discourses can also be altered by the qualities of the program interface, often by gratuitously increasing the users’ mental effort, since very often they have to devote supplementary cognitive resources to using that interface, besides the effort of selecting an interpretation. Besides, much of cyberpragmatic research focuses on the users’ ability to connote their messages with different attributes of orality, typically found in the vocal (e.g., repetition of letters and creative use of punctuation marks) and the visual (e.g., emojis, stickers, GIFs) channels of oral interactions. Another area of research is the way Internet communication is used to sustain and assess group membership and (personal) social networks. In these cases, the “social benefit” obtained from these forms of Internet communication offsets the effort required to keep this level of commitment to the other users. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Communication article “Computer-Mediated Communication.”

Foundation of Cyberpragmatics

Yus 2001, Yus 2010, Yus 2011, and Yus 2021 make up the foundation and main containers of the ideas proposed within cyberpragmatics.

  • Yus, Francisco. 2001. Ciberpragmática: El uso del lenguaje en Internet. Barcelona: Ariel.

    The first proposal of cyberpragmatics, with chapters on the presentation of self on the web, the synchronous virtual conversation (chat rooms), e-mail, and politeness online. Available online via the author’s webpage.

  • Yus, Francisco. 2010. Ciberpragmática 2.0: Nuevos usos del lenguaje en Internet. Barcelona: Ariel.

    An update to address developments in Internet communication, including Web 2.0 (social networking sites, weblogs, Internet fora, etc.) and other types on synchronous conversations such as instant messaging and avatar-mediated interactions in virtual worlds. Available online via the author’s webpage. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Communication article “Web 2.0.”

  • Yus, Francisco. 2011. Cyberpragmatics: Internet-mediated communication in context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    DOI: 10.1075/pbns.213

    Initially meant to be a translation of Yus 2010, it eventually turned out to be also an updated version of the topics addressed in the book in Spanish. Available online via the publisher’s website.

  • Yus, Francisco. 2021. Smartphone communication: Interactions in the app ecosystem. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781003200574

    The first application of cyberpragmatics to the specificity of smartphone communication. The book analyzes topics such as smartphone usability, contextual constraints, non-propositional effects, messaging apps, emojis, video- and image-mediated interactions, new narratives on the smartphone, live streaming, locative apps, and social networking apps. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Communication article “Mobile Communication Studies.”

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