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From International to Local English – And Back Again


Edited By Roberta Facchinetti, David Crystal and Barbara Seidlhofer

All languages encode aspects of culture and every culture has its own specificities to be proud of and to be transmitted. The papers in this book explore aspects of this relationship between language and culture, considering issues related to the processes of internationalization and localization of the English language. The volume is divided into two sections, complementing each other; the first one (Localizing English) focuses on the significance of ethnic knowledge, local culture, and tradition wherever English is used. The second one (Internationalizing English) deals with the degrees and patterns of internationalization of English deriving from its contact with diverse cultures and its adaptation to different professional settings and communicative purposes.


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ELISABETTA ADAMI ELF and sign-making practices on YouTube: Between globalisation and specificities 235


235 ELISABETTA ADAMI ELF and sign-making practices on YouTube: Between globalisation and specificities 1. Introduction As is well-known, the leading video-sharing website YouTube gives easy access to cross-boundary communication. Furthermore, the re- cently introduced ‘video-response’ option enables videobloggers to inter- act through videos addressing one another, thus building communica- tion threads made of videos. Understandably, English is the privileged language in these international video threads; yet language is only part of a wide and diversified range of resources employed in video-inter- action, since gestures, facial expressions, sound and music, animations, drawings, photos, and filmed images can all be deployed in videos. Stemming from the idea that international communication is enabled by shared semiotic practices which include, but are not lim- ited to, the use of a lingua franca based on English (Jenkins, 2000, 2003; Seidlhofer, 2001), the present chapter carries out a multimodal analysis (Kress / van Leeuwen, 2006) on one of the largest video threads currently on YouTube. By endorsing a social semiotic per- spective (Hodge / Kress, 1988), the analysis investigates: 1. how cultural specificities and differences are communicated worldwide by means of shared resources – language included – and, 2. how signs – spread ‘globally’ from prestigious centres – are developed specifically in a given semiotic space1. 1 In spite of the many discourses on a ‘YouTube community’ often endorsed by the participants in video-interaction, here the terms ‘(semiotic) space’ (Gee, 2005) and ‘network’ (Wellman / Berkowitz, 1988) are preferred to ‘commu- 236 Within this broad aim, the analysis also discusses...

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