SLIS Professor Susan Herring recently gave a talk at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The lecture was jointly sponsored by the Cornell University Information Science Program and the Cornell Communication Department. The abstract and announcement were posted on IT@Cornell News - see below:
Special Internet Language Varieties: Culture, Creativity, & Language Change
Professor Susan Herring, School of Library Science and Information Science, Indiana University: Bloomington
Tuesday, August 14th, 2:30-4pm
301 College Ave., Seminar Room, Cornell University
What we call special internet language varieties (SILVs) are playful typographic and orthographic variants of the standard language that have arisen in sub-cultural online contexts such as gaming, hacking, and in CMC modes that involve frequent in-group interaction and a desire on the part of the participants to make their writing humorous, decorative and/or obscure. This talk reports on an ongoing cross-linguistic project to analyze SILVs in four cultural contexts: Leetspeak (U.S.), Padonki (Russia), Fakatsa (Israel), and Martian Language (Taiwan and China). Phase I of the project identified and classified the linguistic strategies employed in these varieties, some of the most common of which are conventionalized misspellings, substitution of letters with numbers and symbols, and mixing of graphical features from different writing systems. In Phase II we conducted an empirical corpus-based study of the contexts and pragmatic functions associated with SILV use. In this talk I present an overview of the project’s findings thus far.
A comparison at multiple linguistic levels reveals certain similarities across SILVs that appear to derive from the exploitation of common principles, such as graphical resemblance, with differences conditioned largely by the resources made available by the writing system of each base language and the cultural and subcultural contexts in which each SILV arose. I conclude by discussing the evidence that SILV features have spread into general internet—and to a lesser extent, offline—use, and the implications of our findings for claims about creativity and internet-driven language change.
Posted August 20, 2012