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Heteroglossia Online

Translocal Processes of Meaning-Making in Facebook Posts

Series:

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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7. Concluding Remarks

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7. Concluding Remarks

The analysis documents language contact situations in Facebook posts on the Walls/Timelines of students from three German universities during their participation in the Erasmus program. It accentuates how posters draw on their entire repertoire of local and translocal, mobile semiotic resources in interactions among speakers with diverse language backgrounds and from different online and offline contexts. The study draws the attention on how the participants create multimodal, polycentric Facebook posts in order to decollapse collided and fuzzy contexts and to negotiate potentially multiple, large, heterogeneous and invisible audiences. It exemplifies how local and globally-shared resources – rather than immobile languages – transcend national and linguistic borders to fulfill particular local communicative aims in concrete interactions.

The analysis of the data unravels that the participants under examination relocalize and reaccentuate the routinzed sociohistorical meaning potential of a variety of semiotic resources to make them “their own” and to contribute to the development of meaning in concrete, polycentric interactions. In doing so, they enhance the mutual intelligibility of their posts and (re-)create frames of meaningfulness. They contextualize social-situational features such as a common identity, shared group membership, sense of togetherness, information on the interlocutors’ relationship, social roles, participant constellation, mood and atmosphere. The analysis evinces that the participants draw on all linguistic levels and purposefully play with the perceived borders between languages (due to processes of routinization and sedimentation) to create a meaningful contrast.

On Facebook, contexts become fuzzy and collide. Even though, Facebook...

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