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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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3. An introduction to the analysis of the selected corpus of interactions


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3.    An introduction to the analysis of the selected corpus of interactions

This Chapter focuses on the notions that will integrate the aspects explored in the previous sections when the selected corpus of online exchanges is analysed. At first, the introduction to Conversation Analysis, and the definition of politeness and face (3.1) will exemplify the influence of the socio-cultural constructs on the language that senders and recipients use in their utterances, along with the need for a reformulation of the conventional theories concerning human communication, due to the cross-cultural dimension of the interactions. Finally, Section 3.2 will introduce the selected corpus of video games, as well as the research objectives.

3.1    The socio-cultural grounds of human communication

As illustrated in the previous chapters, language is a social, cultural and ideological means that allows humans to come into contact and communicate their feelings, thoughts and experiences (Halliday 1978). For these reasons, to study human communication entails to enquire into the relations that exist between linguistic and social constructs, and which are mirrored in the verbal features of the utterances, or in the speakers’ roles. What is more, in multicultural scenarios the value of language is even more important, since it may represent the common tool that helps people to overcome the temporal, cultural and geographical barriers to share their messages, to “exchange information, negotiate and maintain social relations” (Paltridge 2006: 107). A specific, interactive tie is hence activated between language and...

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