The Internet as a global speech community. Towards plurilingualisms and English Lingua Franca


Abstract - Languages have traditionally been associated with specific ethnic groups confined to defined geographical areas and sometimes to certain discourse contexts or domains of use (e.g. French for diplomacy). Increasingly, telecommunication and most recently internet has meant that languages are no longer tied to particular geographical territories but may be found in various non-territorial dimensions. This has created a fluid, constantly changing global speech community in which different languages co-exist and interact in myriad ways and to varying degrees depending on the speakers’ backgrounds. Within this complex scenario, not only does English become in effect translocal language (ELF; Lingua Francas; Plurilingualism; Global Language Networks; Translanguaging.Pennycook 2007, Blommaert 2010) but English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) variations gain in influence, very possibly replacing traditional native-speaker varieties as the international standard (Seidlhofer 2011, Christiansen 2015), they will increasingly reflect the plurilingual reality in which speakers typically have at their disposal a repertoire of different languages. English, we can predict, will thus become in itself a microcosm of the wider linguistic situation especially on media such as the internet. In this paper, we will look at how far internet is leading to greater plurilingualism on the part of individuals and at how far ELF variations are emerging to reflect the multifarious linguistic backgrounds of members of the internet-based global speech community. To do this, we will analyse data from a variety of recent sources, comprising both big data (Pimienta et al 2010; Ronen et al. 2014) and specific case studies from samples of different typologies of websites (e.g. railway companies).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v19p77

Keywords: ELF; Lingua Francas; Plurilingualism; Global Language Networks; Translanguaging.


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