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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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Series editor’s introduction to Heteroglossia online – Translocal Processes of Meaning-Making in Facebook Posts


Series editor’s introduction

Amei Koll-Stobbe (University of Greifswald)

Series editor’s introduction to Heteroglossia online – Translocal Processes of Meaning-Making in Facebook Posts

This is the eighth volume in the series Language Competence and Language Awareness in Europe, and the first that focusses on authentic language use of young Europeans that grew up in a digital communication environment. These young Europeans keep in touch before and during their ERASMUS exchange studies through Facebook posts. The topic, however, is not Facebook as a fairly new tool for keyboard mediated interactive communication, but the patterns and flows of how languages are used as resources and repertoires by the ERASMUS students in order to create and share meanings in a medial environment that facilitates non-linear and multi-modal processes of meaning-making. The objectives of Schilling’s basic research is to use Facebook posts as an easily accessible and highly visible platform displaying situations of language contact and polyphony that had been conceptualized as heteroglossia by Bakhtin (in the 1930s) long before the internet had been invented. Bakhtin conceptualized language (opposing de Saussurean structuralism) not as an abstract synchronic system, but rather as a medium through which language users as social actors participate in a historical flow of social relationships to create meanings as situated and variable social constructs. Schilling’s analysis is based on a collection of 1,057 Facebook Status Updates and Wall/Timeline Posts, and aims at examining how students as social actors in the discursive frame of posts draw on...

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