This edited volume explores multilingual practices of young people in computer mediated communication (CMC) across local, regional, and global levels. It shows how the affordances of evolving digital/mobile technologies shape the ways young people construct and perform their identities and express ideologies and emotions with their multilingual repertoires across various cultural contexts.
The volume is divided into two parts. In their introduction, Cutler & Røyneland (re)conceptualize several keywords including multilingualism and computer mediated communication and highlight the volume's focus as the ‘creative, identity-constructing, and metapragmatic dimensions of personal expression and interpersonal communication’ (25) in the digital sphere. Other chapters in Part 1 examine young people's online multilingual communication in connection with their offline life. Zannie Bock, Nausheena Dalwai, & Christopher Stroud examine South African undergraduate students’ mobile texting practices and how they express their ‘cool’ urban identity through hybrid linguistic and changing technological styling resources. Focusing on similar (texting) data among Senegalese adolescents, Kristin Vold Lexander demonstrates how local and international languages are indexical of different social functions and multifaceted identities such as modern, urban, and global-minded youth. Cécile Evers explores how French orthodox Muslim women in Marseille linguistically and discursively co-construct religious piety, feelings about alienation, and transnational connections through various digital channels. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Matt Garley demonstrates how English orthographic features show German hip hop fans’ cultural alignment with the global hip hop community in online forums.
Part 2 focuses on the ideological and metapragmatic meanings of the linguistic, stylistic, and discursive resources that young people deploy in their online multilingual practices. In online social media, a historical South African linguistic register, Tsotsitaal, is ‘revived’ by young South Africans through skillful linguistic and discursive performance (Ana Deumert). In particular, YouTube often becomes a platform for language-ideological discussions over multilingual pop culture. In their YouTube comments, some Mexican-American rap fans express resistance against the hegemonic white American culture through flouting orthographic standards, using different styles of Spanish, and mixing Spanish and English texts (Cecelia Cutler). A YouTube video by a Norwegian rapper with an immigrant background triggers intense online arguments over the relationship between language and national identity (Unn Røyneland). Different linguistic varieties or styles in the interactions between a Bolivian indigenous hip hop group and their audience on Youtube signify (dis)alignments with different linguistic, ethnic, or cultural communities (Karl Swinehart). By examining young diasporic Jamaicans’ code-mixed online blog writing, Lars Hinrichs proposes a ‘rhetoricity-based’ approach to analyzing translingual and heteroglossic writing in CMC. Jamie Shinhee Lee shows how global fans of two Korean pop groups express support to their idols on a website by (re)appropriating different linguistic styles and features that ‘accommodate’ the groups members’ native cultures.
This collection demonstrates a variety of theoretical approaches and (mostly) qualitative methodologies available for the study of social and ideological dimensions of online multilingualism. While more research may be needed to explore whether CMC fosters novel multilingual practices absent in offline communication, the volume excellently illustrates the ways digital/mobile technologies mediate young users’ diverse and fleeing multilingual practices in the context of ongoing social changes in different parts of the world.