Title

Language coordination in bilingual chat rooms: a case study of the AOL chat room "Berlin"

Poster Number

6

Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

I have conducted an anthropological case study of the AOL bilingual chat room "Berlin" in order to question whether language contact, accommodation, and code switching play a role in defining identity and power structures in online virtual communities. I used the method of participant observation in the community for a total of 50 hours, which produced over 700 pages of chat transcript. By analyzing this data, I was able to come to several conclusions. Although there is no physical contact between the chat room participants (meaning they cannot decipher race, sex, or other identifying features upon meeting one another), it can be expected that physical identity markets will be readily offered in order to distinguish identity, or linguistic cues (ex: writing in a location-specific dialect) will define identity. Language hierarchies and interpersonal relationships are also based on language choice and identity. German speakers can often times ignore English speakers in the room that do not understand German and vice versa (although this situation is much less likely to occur). What I have found occurring in the virtual community is that linguistic cues and markers including language contact, accommodation, and code switching, play a primary role in identity development and community hierarchies.

Location

Pacific Geosciences Center

Start Date

20-4-2002 9:00 AM

End Date

20-4-2002 5:00 PM

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 5:00 PM

Language coordination in bilingual chat rooms: a case study of the AOL chat room "Berlin"

Pacific Geosciences Center

I have conducted an anthropological case study of the AOL bilingual chat room "Berlin" in order to question whether language contact, accommodation, and code switching play a role in defining identity and power structures in online virtual communities. I used the method of participant observation in the community for a total of 50 hours, which produced over 700 pages of chat transcript. By analyzing this data, I was able to come to several conclusions. Although there is no physical contact between the chat room participants (meaning they cannot decipher race, sex, or other identifying features upon meeting one another), it can be expected that physical identity markets will be readily offered in order to distinguish identity, or linguistic cues (ex: writing in a location-specific dialect) will define identity. Language hierarchies and interpersonal relationships are also based on language choice and identity. German speakers can often times ignore English speakers in the room that do not understand German and vice versa (although this situation is much less likely to occur). What I have found occurring in the virtual community is that linguistic cues and markers including language contact, accommodation, and code switching, play a primary role in identity development and community hierarchies.