Document Type


Date of Award



Just talking, relationships, social media, linguistic theory, courtship, dating, language, internet, college students

Degree Name

English (BA)



First Advisor

Dr. Melissa Hardesty



Subject Heading(s)

English language -- Slang -- 21st century ; Courtship -- United States -- Slang ; Semantics -- Case studies -- 21st century


This thesis will explore the correlation between societal and linguistic change,
specifically relating to the usage of the colloquialism “Just Talking” in 21st Century courtship vernacular. The usage of this term seems to be relatively new and does not appear in many scientific articles. In 2019, at the beginning of the research project which prompted this paper, there were no scientific articles that attempted to discuss this phenomenon. Since then, only two articles on the subject have been published. This thesis will attempt to understand why this term is being used and how it relates to the terms which have come before it.

In order to properly discuss this phenomenon, I will utilize texts which study the different periods of relationship development in 20th and 21st-century America, as well as those that study how 21st-century American college students interact with one another within hookup culture on college campuses. Following this, I will utilize various texts regarding linguistic development and change to discuss language shifts within generations, both generally and specifically following the introduction of the internet into mass culture. Throughout both of these sections, I will make references to the data collected by the team of student researchers within
the Binghamton Human Sexuality Laboratory to study the usage of the “Just Talking” term on Binghamton’s campus. Finally, I will connect all of these theories to the data to propose the idea that the term “Just Talking” is utilized by students on college campuses to connote a relationship interaction that is not new, but rather a continuation of similar forms of relationship development from history such as the “calling” period. This connection section will additionally posit that this
new term is specifically newly introduced as a result of cultural shifts and the internet’s rapid influence on language in modern times.

I would like to thank Dr. Melisa Hardesty from the Binghamton University College of
Community and Public Affairs for being my thesis advisor as well as my main research advisor over the past seven semesters. I would also like to thank Dr. Sarah Young, Dr. Ann Merriwether, and Dr. Sean Massey from the Binghamton Human Sexualities Laboratory for their perpetual support. The skills and lessons I have learned within the Human Sexualities Laboratory have been invaluable and hopefully will serve me for years to come.

I would also like to thank Dr. Praseeda Gopinath and Donna Berg from the Binghamton University Department of English for their support throughout my time in the English Honors Program.