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Global Interactions in English as a Lingua Franca

How written communication is changing under the influence of electronic media and new contexts of use


Franca Poppi

This volume investigates the changes undergone by written communication in our globalized world as English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). The latter usually functions as a language for communication purposes, but also becomes a language for identification purposes. The study takes into account different web-genres: from the replication of existing genres in other media to cybergenres, whose key evolutionary force is the progressive exploitation of the new functionalities afforded by the new medium. The variety of the contexts of use has made it possible to consider different ELF-using communities of practice, whose members adopt ELF and adapt it to express individual, national and professional identities in international interactions. The analysis focuses on lexicogrammatical innovations, which inevitably change in accordance with the different contexts of use, as well as on the communicative strategies underpinning these changes.


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I. Introduction: The Use of English for International Communication 15


15 I. Introduction: The Use of English for International Communication This volume explores how English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), to be understood as “any use of English among speakers of different first languages for whom English is the communicative medium of choice, and often the only option” (Seidlhofer 2011: 7), is adopted and adapted by users from different lingua-cultural backgrounds who communi- cate in the written mode. So far, great attention has been devoted to spoken ELF, with the publication of a great number of studies1 and the compilation of three well-established corpora of spoken-interac- tions, namely the ELFA2, the VOICE3 and the ACE4 corpora. On the contrary, written discourse has not received much attention. This volume investigates how the different types of dynamic and temporary communities that ELF-users may form and identify with, adopt and adapt a common communication code on the occasion of interactions in the written mode. These communities are formed in an ad-hoc way in different contexts of use and have also been referred to as “constella- tions of interconnected practices” (Wenger 1998: 127), on the grounds of their dynamic and temporary nature5. Their members use ELF as a language of secondary socialization (cf. Seidlhofer 2011: 86), namely 1 See list of references. 2 The ELFA (English as a Lingua Franca in Academic settings) corpus was launched at the University of Tampere under the leadership of Anna Mauranen (Mauranen 2003). 3 The VOICE (Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English) was launched at the University of Vienna...

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