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Normativity, power, and agency: On the chronotopic organization of orthographic conventions on social media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2021

Taraneh Sanei
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
E-mail address:


This article examines Iranian social media users’ understandings of normative behavior by focusing on a new online ‘nonstandard’ orthographic norm: the ‘hekasreh’. Adopting a chronotopic approach to the study of discourse, I analyze Iranian Twitter users’ social positionings towards the ‘hekasreh’ phenomenon. I show how tweeters invoke different spatiotemporal configurations, and the normative behaviors associated with them, to argue for and/or against this new orthographic norm. Focusing on the argumentative dynamics of the invoked chronotopes, I investigate the agentive and creative ways in which power is claimed and maintained in online spaces. This study, on the one hand, provides more empirical data to highlight the significance of attending to the online-offline nexus, and on the other hand argues for a more dynamic conceptualization of the interaction between normativity, power, and agency in online communication. (Social media, Farsi/Persian orthography, sociolinguistic normativity, chronotope, power, agency)*

Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Rakesh Bhatt and Lydia Catedral whose academic guidance and support made this project possible. Moreover, I am especially grateful to Farzad Karimzad for all of his insightful comments and professional help in every stage of this project. I would like to also thank my colleagues in the Language and Society Discussion (LSD) group at the University of Illinois for their interest in and engaging discussions about the article. Finally, I appreciate the anonymous reviewers and the editors of Language in Society for their helpful comments which led to an improved version of this article.


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