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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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6. Analysis of speakers’ behaviour


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6.    Analysis of speakers’ behaviour

This Chapter accounts for how non-native speakers use ELF variations to fill some schematic and linguistic gaps in international communication (6.1). Besides the analysis of lexical creativity, Section 6.2 will deal with a number of extracts that exemplify the different levels of cooperation between players, revealing that despite most interactions are symmetrical, some participants actually exploit their role of native, high-status speakers, eventually refusing to play with foreign people, or to select a common language.

6.1    Analysis of lexical creativity

Cooperation between players may be inferred from their behaviour in terms of discourse analysis. In fact, the polite sequence of adjacency pairs, or the polite passages from questions to answers are integrated by the activation of lexical strategies that are meant to make one’s utterances more accessible to the recipients. As already explained, the senders’ intention has to be transferred within communities whose members are separated not only from a geographical point of view, but also due to linguistic, social and cultural reasons. Hence, cooperation in lingua-franca interactions also entails to adapt one’s utterances in terms of their verbal, visible or audible features, even by re-modelling existing words and notions, to which different surface structures are given. Furthermore, this process is partially grounded in the influence of the producers’ L1, as may be inferred from the context and co-text of one’s utterances.

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