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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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5. A Framework for the Analysis: Basic Assumptions and Hypotheses

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5. A Framework for the Analysis: Basic Assumptions and Hypotheses

5.1 Basic Assumptions

The analysis starts from the following basic assumptions located in the context of the recent approaches introduced in the chapter on the theoretical background. They bear a considerable relevance for the examination of Erasmus students’ posts on Facebook in the following study.

– First, the participants are understood as social actors and language is recognized as a complex set of social practices (cf. Blackledge and Creese 2010; Blommaert 2010; Lähteenmäki 2010; Pennycook 2010, 2007a, 2007b; Matras 2009; Heller 2007).

– Second, the Erasmus students under examination engage in interactions among speakers with diverse language backgrounds. In those interactions, they draw on their entire repertoire of semiotic resources (rather than fixed, countable languages) to fulfill particular communicative aims. Those resources are part of the Erasmus students’ repertoire, which is characterized as truncated or unbalanced. (cf. Blackledge and Creese 2010; Blommaert 2010; Lähteenmäki 2010; Pennycook 2010, 2007a, 2007b; Matras 2009; Heller 2007; Makoni and Pennycook 2007; the concepts of heteroglossia, polylingualism, plurilingualism, metrolingualism and multimodality)

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