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Heteroglossia Online

Translocal Processes of Meaning-Making in Facebook Posts


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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2. The Theoretical Background


2. The Theoretical Background

The study of language contact involves the examination of any linguistic phenomenon observed when two or more languages get in contact. The background, the actual realization and possible results of contact situations are of interest to the contact linguist. Of course, languages per se get do not actually get in contact. The idea has to be understood only in the most metaphorical sense. To put it more accurately, speakers of different languages get in contact: “language ‘systems’ do not genuinely touch or even influence one another. The relevant locus of contact is the language processing apparatus of the individual multilingual speaker and the employment of this apparatus in communicative interaction” (Matras 2009: 3). Contact linguistics examines linguistic and sociocultural features connected with phenomena involved in and resulting from contact between speakers of different languages. As previous research has pointed out, these phenomena may range from borrowings to the creation of new languages as well as the development of stable bi- or multilingual communities or the death of languages (cf. Garret 2007; Winford 2003).

Following Weinreich (1974: 1), language contact is the alternate use of two or more languages by the same person. Thus, languages get in contact within the speech repertoire of a single person (i.e. generally termed bi- or multilingual speaker). On top of that, languages also get in contact in particular communicative situations (i.e. generally termed bi- or multilingual speech situations, for example in bi- and multilingual societies). According to...

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