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Heteroglossia Online

Translocal Processes of Meaning-Making in Facebook Posts

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Caroline Schilling

The nature of communicative practices today, particularly in the context of digitalized media, has revealed that earlier paradigms on language contact do not prove to be fully satisfactory. Based on 1,507 Facebook posts of German university students participating in the Erasmus exchange program, the analysis aims at exploring how posters draw on their entire repertoire of local and «translocal» semiotic resources in interactions among speakers with diverse language backgrounds. The students under examination participate in actual processes of meaning-making by refashioning the semiotic potential of various features. As a result, the interlocutors create heteroglossic and polycentric posts to decollapse collided and fuzzy contexts and to negotiate potentially large and multiple audiences.

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1. Introduction

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1. Introduction

Early research on language contact and multilingualism has proceeded on the assumption of languages as fixed, distinct and countable units and has focused on processes from a micro or macro perspective. However, the nature of communicative practices today has revealed that earlier paradigms display a variety of limits when it comes to the examination of actual interactions. More recent approaches to language contact and multilingualism therefore emphasize the relevance of viewing languages as social, open and adaptive constructions, deeply embedded in the sociohistorical developments of their speech communities as well as in the moment of interaction. For this reason, they emphasize the relevance of including both the diachronic and synchronic, the macro and micro dimension into the examination of language contact phenomena. The dialogic view on the construction of meaning includes the adoption, appropriation and refashioning of the sociohistorical meaning potential in concrete interactions to create and recreate new frames of meaningfulness. Instead of concentrating on languages as discrete and impermeable units, the focal point turns to the speakers. They are viewed as social actors who draw on their entire repertoire of linguistic and non-linguistic features. Those features may be local. However, they may also be globally shared, transcending national and linguistic borders and taking part in particular local communicative practices.

Recent approaches to language contact and multilingualism have been developed and embraced by scholars from different fields of research (the educational sector and foreign language teaching, media studies, the analysis of urban landscapes,...

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