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Analysing English as a Lingua Franca in Video Games

Linguistic Features, Experiential and Functional Dimensions of Online and Scripted Interactions


Pietro Luigi Iaia

This book examines the English Lingua Franca (ELF) uses in a corpus of online and scripted video-game interactions. While research generally explores the playful and technological aspects of computer-mediated communication, this study focuses on the strategies of cooperation, language simplification and authentication, lexical creativity and meaning negotiation that are generally activated within the «community of practice of gamers» to facilitate cross-cultural conversations. The scripted exchanges, instead, are examined by means of the ALFA Model (Analysis of Lingua Franca in Audiovisual texts), which is devised to enquire into the extent to which the non-native participants’ language variations are part of the multimodal actualisation of the cognitive construct of «non-native speakers», to which authors resort in order to prompt specific reactions on the part of the receivers. Finally, since the participants’ turns in both online and scripted interactions are visually represented as written messages on screen, this research also contributes to the development of the description of written ELF variations, so far not thoroughly explored in the literature.

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1. Exploration of English as a Lingua Franca


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1.    Exploration of English as a Lingua Franca

This chapter enquires into the main linguistic and communicative features of English lingua-franca variations. At first, a general description of cross-cultural interactions is provided (1.1); then, the native and non-native speakers’ behaviours are examined (1.2), in order to illustrate that both types of participants have to be seen as members of the same discourse community, which is not determined by geographical or ethnic factors, but by the bridging function of English. After the contextualisation of the basic issues of lingua-franca exchanges, this chapter provides an overview of the current state of ELF research and the possible development to which the present study contributes (1.3).

1.1    English as a Lingua Franca: contextualisation

When a language is used in various communicative contexts and therefore by speakers with different linguacultural origins, its standard rules may be subject to modifications. This procedure has affected English in particular, partly because of its evolution as an international language that enables communication in any areas, from education, to business, to daily lives. This status has repercussions not only on the lexical and structural features of the language, but on its speakers as well. For example, native participants may react in two ways: they may either perceive a sense of “possession” of the language they were born with, thus activating different strategies that aim at protecting its standard characteristics, or they may adopt a different attitude, which supports the increase...

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