Linguistic dynamics in digital diaspora communities: The case of Nairaland: DiLCo Lecture Series (27 October) - Axel Bohmann - Universität Hamburg
Linguistic dynamics in digital diaspora communities: The case of Nairaland: DiLCo Lecture Series (27 October)
One important effect of digital connectivity is that globally scattered communities are increasingly able to maintain contact across discontiguous space. Such contact, in turn, brings different linguistic varieties into contact with each other. This is particularly true of English-speaking diaspora groups, whose native varieties co-exist with other forms of English in various places of residence. This talk presents data from a web forum serving one such community, namely: Nigerians living in Nigeria and in the diaspora. The Nairaland corpus (Honkanen & Alcón López fc.) contains all posts made to the forum between its inception in 2005 and 2014. Previous studies have productively analyzed interactional aspects in the data, focusing on topics like language ideologies (Honkanen 202), place identities (Heyd 2016), and digital ethnolinguistic repertoires (Heyd & Mair 2014).
In this talk, I employ quantitative methods to trace the development of communication on the forum across the ten years covered by the data, from three perspectives:
• The degree of contact among Nigerian and diaspora users
• The prevalence of linguistic resources from different varieties of English
• Change in the use of individual linguistic items.
The results show that Nairaland is a dynamically evolving community, in which communicative and linguistic trends follow complex, non-linear patterns, and that specific topics on the forum invite the use of distinct kinds of repertoires.
Axel Bohmann is Assistant Professor at the University of Freiburg’s English Department. He obtained his PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017, with a dissertation on register variation in global varieties of English (Bohmann 2019). His current research project focuses on the multilingual repertoires of recently arrived migrants in Southwestern Germany. From 2019 to 2021, Axel has led the project “Language as a complex adaptive system: Insights from physical modelling” (funded by the Volkswagenstiftung), together with Martin Bohmann and Lars Hinrichs. Among his research interests are corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics, World Englishes, computer-mediated discourse, and register studies.
DiLCo Lecture Series 2022 aims to showcase cutting edge international research on digitally language and communication by both senior and younger researchers from across the world. We wish to present research that explores digital language and communication by drawing on key concepts and topics in socio-cultural linguistics, such as community, context, identity, mediated interaction, multimodality, and linguistic change. We particularly welcome presentations of innovative methods that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries.--- DiLCo (‘Digital language variation in context’) is a 3-year international research network initiated in 2021 at the University of Hamburg. The network brings together researchers from Europe and USA with expertise in computational, interactional, and ethnographic approaches to digital language and linguistics. It aims to provide a platform for the development of interdisciplinary ideas in digital language and communication research, and for early-career capacity building.