The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online

the multilingual internetAuthors: Brenda Danet and Susan C. Herring

Although English is the de facto lingua franca of the Internet, most Internet users are not native speakers of English. Two-thirds of the one billion users now online communicate in other languages, in non-native English, or both. Yet the English-based scholarly literature on computer-mediated communication (CMC) does not reflect this diversity. This book analyses text-based CMC in multiple languages other than native English. Its eighteen chapters, most of them case studies focusing on a particular language or multilingual situation, address a range of topics: writing systems and the Internet; linguistic and discourse features of local language use online; gender, language, and culture online; language choice and code switching; and linguistic diversity on the Internet, currently and projected into the future. Secondary themes addressed include playfulness and creativity in CMC; romanisation of languages ordinarily written in other scripts; and comparison of CMC-specific features in various languages. The languages described include French, Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Spanish, Catalan, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese, and non-native Englishes. A wide range of CMC modes is covered, from personal email, discussion lists, and text messaging on mobile phones (asynchronous) to instant messaging, ICQ, and graphical chat (synchronous) — as used by teenagers, university students and other young people, housewives, and professionals.

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