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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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Introduction

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Technological development is allowing human beings to be in touch anywhere in the world, to tear down the spatial distance by activating interactions between participants that do not need to live in the same country, or even in the same hemisphere, but who may feel that the exchange is taking place as if senders and recipients were conversing in the same room. Yet, this communicative dimension originated from the mediation of technology could not have been fully exploited, if humans had not resorted to a shared language that enables cross-cultural communication, and which generally coincides with English.

In this sense, the international use of English has determined a shift from local speakers to cross-cultural speakers, who develop specific strategies to use, model, re-invent and re-shape this linguistic means in order to pursue specific communicative functions. The research area that goes under the label of “English as a Lingua Franca” (ELF) investigates the distinguishing aspects of cross-cultural encounters, detailing the linguistic and communicative characteristics of human communication when different linguacultural backgrounds interact (cf. Jenkins 2000, 2007; Seidlhofer 2011; Guido / Seidlhofer 2014). ELF research enquires into how English is constructed, modified, adapted, “authenticated” (Widdowson 1979) due to the influence of the speakers’ native linguistic and cultural backgrounds on the features of their lingua-franca variations. Scholars explore the influence of the political, economic, social, and cultural factors on the characteristics of the ELF variations that are actively selected and used by the participants. Academic research focuses on a...

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