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Youth language in virtual space in Nigeria: Multimodal affordance, indexicality and youth identities

  • Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard


Virtual space expressions contribute to the proliferation of African youth lingo within the Nigerian environment. However, beyond the sheer accumulation of lingual features, virtual space in Nigeria is also a site for the projection of both modern and indigenous youth identities, and for the deployment of sundry communication codes and multimodal affordances. This article explores this twin deployment, first as a way of broadening the sociolinguistic profile of African urban and youth languages, and second as a platform for examining aspects of youth identity formations in the Nigerian setting and how these intersect with the larger linguistic and sociolinguistic environment. Employing the methodology of content analysis, the article establishes youth language practice in virtual space in the Nigerian environment as not only multimodal, but also as indexical. Data samples are drawn from multiple discussion threads on Nairaland, a Nigerian youth news and entertainment blog that is hugely representative of the virtual space youth speech community in the country. The article concludes that virtual space and multimodal affordances enable the projection of hybridized and sometimes nondescript youth identities and alter-egos, as well as a display of communicative usages that appear distinctively African.

Corresponding author: Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju, Department of English, University of Ilorin, Faculty of Arts, University of Ilorin Main Campus, Ilorin, Kwara, Nigeria, E-mail:


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Published Online: 2020-12-08

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