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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Cantonese e-discourse: A new hybrid variety of English

Loretta Fung1 / Ronald Carter2



Citation Information: Multilingua – Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication. Volume 26, Issue 1, Pages 35–66, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: 10.1515/MULTI.2007.002, June 2007

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While English remains the most dominant language used on the Internet, studies have primarily investigated computer-mediated interactions in English. Little linguistic research has, however, investigated how English and other languages interact online. Based on a 20,000-word corpus of private ICQ (‘I Seek You’) data, this paper analyses the online linguistic strategies and features of eighteen NNS university students from Hong Kong studying in Britain. The study witnesses the evolution of a new hybrid variety of English, an emergent bimodality with an informal speakerly style produced in a context of synchronicity. The findings demonstrate how the interlocutors adopt and adapt conventions of oral and written discourse to interact creatively in a context with spatio-temporal constraints in order to co-construct interpersonal convergence and to express their cultural identity. The speech modifications and linguistic play evidenced within code-switching, borrowing of Cantonese discourse markers, relexicalisation, and prosodic effects can be considered part of an e-discourse repertoire used to achieve interactional purposes and to articulate cultural identity.

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