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Analysing English as a Lingua Franca in Video Games

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

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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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2. Human dimension of Computer-Mediated Communication

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2.    Human dimension of Computer-Mediated Communication

Even though the mediation of technology is fundamental in online interactions, participants are still human beings that aim at communicating their experiences by means of language. This statement, which may seem obvious at a first reading, is instead important due to one of the basic assumptions of this study, namely that also online interactions in the course of video-game sessions could be investigated by considering a number of factors that conventionally rule the contacts between people, such as the psychological, cultural and sociological grounds that determine different levels of cooperation between participants, the activation of meaning-negotiation strategies that may help to convey one’s message, the creation of societal, discourse communities. Additionally, players who interact live in different parts of the world, hence also the selection of language has an important function, insofar as it helps to make the senders’ intentionality accessible to their interlocutors. Whereas the previous chapter has enquired into the characteristics of English that justify its adoption as the “lingua franca” in most of cross-cultural interactions, the following sections will introduce the current state of research on video games (2.1), and will be focused on game localisation (2.2) and the exploration of computer-mediated communication (2.3). This account of the psychological, social and cultural perspectives shall illustrate the processes of identity construction and negotiation in the communicative exchanges under analysis, when participants try to fit virtual communities still ruled by dynamics of inclusion and exclusion very similar...

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