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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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Friends from the Erasmus Context from Non-German Universities

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According to the posts on the participants’ Walls/Timelines, Friends from the Erasmus context and from non-German universities most commonly choose either English or the language of the Erasmus host country as the unmarked language of choice in interaction with the participants. The data furthermore displays that German frequently serves as a marked language of choice. Those instances are not necessarily more eye-catching in general because the participants’ Wall/Timeline display many posts comprising German elements. However, they function as specialized means of addressing the participants in the concrete context of the interaction, i.e. a Friend from the Erasmus context from a non-German university posts on the Wall/Timeline of an Erasmus student from a German university, whom he has met in the context of the Erasmus exchange program and in interaction with whom German functions as a marked language.

Figure 70: Post on the Wall/Timeline of the participant studying Business Administration, 1 semester in Poland; A1 – comment by participant99

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Figure 71: Post on the Wall/Timeline of the participant studying Communication Sciences and Business Administration, 1 semester in Sweden; P – comments by poster (Erasmus context), A1 to A2 – comments by participant100

In the first example (Figure 70), the participant comments on the post by drawing on the same strategy as his Erasmus Friend, i.e. using his Friends’ native language even though it is not an unmarked language in their interactions either. In the second example (Figure 71), the poster only uses...

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