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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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6. “bon journo miss sweden … alles jutzen! ;)”: The Analysis of Erasmus Students’ Facebook Posts31


6. “bon journo miss sweden … alles jutzen! ;)”: The Analysis of Erasmus Students’ Facebook Posts31

6.1 Contextualizing Features Provided by Facebook

Facebook as a medium provides its users with a number of diverse options to decollapse fuzzy and collided contexts as well as to negotiate large, heterogeneous and invisible audiences and to cope with the blurry boundary between public and private (i.e. mass and interpersonal) communication. Those options contribute to the contextualization of posts in concrete interactions on Walls/Timelines. They include the customization of settings, the features and functionalities determined by the properties of Facebook as a Networked Public (boyd 2011, see above) and the multimodal, (inter-) connective character of Facebook.

6.1.1 Customizing the Settings

Facebook offers users a variety of features and functionalities to manage the settings of their activities. In doing so, posters are able to partially tailor potential audiences and decollapse fuzzy contexts. They can customize account, privacy and←105 | 106→ security settings either on their Walls/Timelines or via the “Privacy Settings” and the “Profile Editing” page.32 Users edit the visibility of individual parts of their profiles. They determine who may find them on Facebook or via search engines, who can send them messages and post on their Wall/Timeline, they can accept or reject to be tagged, etc. Additionally, they can manage Wall/Timeline advertising and app privacy.

On top of that, users can specify the audience of their Status Updates before they are posted either by default (on...

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