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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 15, 2010

Virtual community and politeness: The use of female markers of identity and solidarity in a transvestites' website

  • Gaëlle Planchenault
From the journal


Displaying a positive face when joining an online community, i. e., demonstrating the will that one's face wants be desirable to fellow interlocutors (Brown and Levinson, Politeness: Some universals in language usage, Cambridge University Press, 1987), can be a key to success for integration. A new member will often have to comply with the appropriate behaviour (a set of specific rules and codes adopted by the community of practice that he or she is joining) if s/he wants to be included and not rejected. And acceptance is particularly important for a marginal population such as transvestites. The data that I am working with in this article is drawn from “texts of introduction” written by members of a virtual community of transvestites for a French-speaking website. The goal of the website is clearly to establish an international community for its members. I use these introductory texts to address linguistic ideology and representations, especially regarding gender. Expectations about feminine talk and politeness, such as cooperation and avoidance of rude language (Holmes, Women, men and politeness, Longman, 1995), which can be related to the notion of verbal hygiene that Cameron (Applied Linguistics 15: 382–398, 1994: 383) defines as “ways of using language [which] are functionally, aesthetically, or morally preferable to others”, will be focused on in particular. Furthermore, I will show how, through this writing exercise, members participate in building a sense of community.

Published Online: 2010-03-15
Published in Print: 2010-March

© 2010 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York

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