NEW DIGITAL PRACTICES AND EMERGING LITERACY FORMS: AN INVESTIGATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE’S LANGUAGE USE IN SOCIAL MEDIA
The present paper investigates the digital practices of young people (aged 14-20), in the context of Cyprus, that draw on but are also mediated by written texts. Digital literacy practices have proven to be very rich sources for linguistic study as they do not only involve users’ metalinguistic awareness of language choices made but they also give way to new directions for the use of social networking platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The use of digital practices in social networking has proven to be a powerful and dynamic form of informal learning (Carrington & Robinson, 2009).
In particular, three aspects of young people’s digital uses of language are explored: A) Greeklish (use of Latin alphabeted characters in Greek words), a common writing system used mostly among youth in social media and online interactions and a dynamic digital practice which indexes participation in certain digital communities, B) Engreek (use of Greek alphabet in English words), a popular and rather recent practice with users which can be characterised as a reversal of Greeklish. Engreek is investigated through the lens of linguistic novelty or even resistance in the sovereignty of Greeklish and English language in digital environments. C) Hashtags in social networking sites (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) as processes of text-density.
The objective is to obtain a more rounded picture of the ways in which different forms of digital practices and emerging linguistic choices can transform users’ literacy practices allowing them to cross ‘borders’ through multimodal texts and the ways in which this crossing may correlate with their positions in a landscape of practice.
The data collected comprise of a corpus of data from participant posts on Facebook and Instagram (thirty posts), as well as advertisements on Facebook (twenty) and one hundred and twenty questionnaires. For the analysis of the data we adopted models of analysis that spring from sociolinguistics, literacy theories, Ethnography of Communication and discourse analysis, whereas a quantitative analysis of questionnaire responses was also employed.
Keywords: Engreek, digital language practices, script-focused translanguaging, landscapes of practice, reflexivity
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