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Abstract

This paper looks at personal blogging by dog owners in an international, English language blogsite in which dog owners from around the world report and reflect upon their dogs and their lives with dogs, and do so by using the dog's voice. It approaches dog blogs as an example of the strategic use of pervasive but contentious anthropomorphic western discourses about animals and discusses how dog bloggers use anthropomorphism as a discursive means for crafting and collectively ratifying authenticity in a translocal, interest-driven and informal social media context in which traditional territorial and demographic parameters of authenticity are not easily available or relevant.
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Pre-print version (to be published in Discourse, Context and the Media, June 2016)
TITLE PAGE
Title:
DOG BLOGS AS VENTRILOQUISM: AUTHENTICATION OF THE HUMAN VOICE
Author name and affiliation:
Sirpa Leppänen
University of Jyväskylä
Department of Languages
P.O. Box 35
40014 University of Jyväskylä
Finland
sirpa.leppanen@jyu.fi
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DOG BLOGS AS VENTRILOQUISM: AUTHENTICATION OF THE HUMAN VOICE
Sirpa Leppänen
University of Jyväskylä
ABSTRACT
This paper looks at personal blogging by dog owners in an international, English language blogsite
in which dog owners from around the world report and reflect upon their dogs and their lives with
dogs, and do so by using the dog’s voice. It approaches dog blogs as an example of the strategic use
of pervasive but contentious anthropomorphic western discourses about animals and discusses how
dog bloggers use anthropomorphism as a discursive means for crafting and collectively ratifying
authenticity in a translocal, interest-driven and informal social media context in which traditional
territorial and demographic parameters of authenticity are not easily available or relevant.
More specifically, the paper shows how the discursive means for authentication in dog blogging
entail deliberate acts of ventriloquism and stylization. It analyses the ways in which these function
to authenticate bloggers socially and morally as legitimate participants in dog blogging and as
particular kinds of persons. Further, it discusses how a range of norms associated with blogging, on
the one hand, and historically specific discourses about humans and companion animals, on the
other hand, are recontextualized for the purposes of the socio-cultural niche in question. Particular
attention is paid to how linguistic and discursive features associated with diary writing, as well as to
how western discourses of dogs and animals are mobilized in the establishment, maintenance and
regulation of the global practice about dogs in a way that is highly indexical of idealized, classed
gender.
Keywords: blogging, authentication, normativity, stylization, diary writing, dogs,
anthropomorphism
Highlights:
The global practice of blogging about dogs is an example of the significance of authentication in
social media practice
Authentication involves a social and moral dimension
In informal, interest-based social media practices authentication requires consent, uptake and
regulation of a particular discursive orientation
In blogging about dogs discursive authentication involves stylization and ventriloquism
In stylization and ventriloquism, bloggers mobilize linguistic and discursive features associated
with diary writing and western discourses of dogs and the dog-human relationship
Dog blogging is highly indexical of idealized, classed gender.
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1. INTRODUCTION
This paper looks at personal blogging by dog owners in an international, English language blogsite,
Dogster, in which dog owners from around the world report and reflect on their dogs and their lives
with dogs and do so by posing as their dogs. As cultural practice this is intriguing, because in its
own way it highlights the pervasive and contentious practice of anthropomorphism in a cultural
context where animal rights and agency, as well as human-animal relations are becoming
increasingly topical (see, e.g. the collection of essays in Daston and Mittman 2005) and where they
are debated and renegotiated in intercultural relations and in relation to global crises such as famine
and global warming (see, e.g. Leonard 2014). For the purposes of this article, blogging about dogs
is also an interesting case, because it can effectively highlight two fundamental and recurrent
features of social media practice. The article shows that, while in translocal, interest-driven and
informal social media practices traditional demographic and territorial parameters of authenticity
are not easily available or relevant for participation and belonging, authenticity, as an effect of the
process of authentication, still continues to be a central issue.
Hence, how authenticity is important in social media practices is the focus of this paper. Building
on recent discourse-ethnographic work on identities and normativities in different social media
environments (e.g. Leppänen 2008, 2009, 2012; Leppänen and Piirainen-Marsh 2009; Leppänen
and Häkkinen 2013; Leppänen et al. 2014; Kytölä 2013), I will show how authenticity in social
media practices is something that is deliberately discursively crafted and collectively ratified, a
technology of the self in Foucault's (1988) sense whereby the adherence to a particular discourse
produces selves that are desirable and appropriate in a particular context.
More specifically, the article discusses ways in which social media participants, to authenticate
themselves and others (Bucholtz 2003; Bucholtz and Hall 2004) strategically orient to and mobilize
distinctive linguistic and discursive choices conventionalized in their social media niche. It shows
how in the case of dog blogging such discursive crafting involves deliberate acts of ventriloquism
(Jacklin 2005), imposture (Kramsch 2012) and stylization (Rampton 1999). The article also shows
how authentication in dog blogging involves a social and moral dimension: on the one hand, it
makes possible that bloggers have access to and legitimacy in participating in blogging, and, on the
other, ensures that they are people who have an appropriate moral outlook on and relationship with
dogs.
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Authentication will thus be investigated as multi-voiced practice. The article will show in detail
how a particular way of writing – the pretension to write like a dog –is seemingly used to persuade
blog audiences to believe that it is the dog - and not the human - whose voice and style of writing
we witness in the blogs. Thus, the fact that such an impression can be created actually authenticates
the humans. In addition, the article will show how, in this process, a range of norms associated with
blogging, on the one hand, and historically specific discourses about humans and companion dogs,
on the other hand, are recontextualized for the needs and purposes of the socio-cultural niche in
question. In these tasks, particular attention will be paid to how linguistic and discursive features
associated with diary writing, as well as western discourses of anthropomorphism, are drawn on in
the establishment, maintenance and regulation of this global genre of writing about dogs in a way
that is highly indexical of human identities, classed gender, in particular.
2. WHAT ARE DOG BLOGS, WHY ARE THEY WRITTEN AND HOW ARE THEY
INTERESTING?
Dog blogs, frequently updated webpages with dated entries (Blood 2002: 12) focusing on dogs,
could be defined as a particular sub-genre of personal blogs (Walker Rettberg 2013: 20-1): they are
written by individual, (mostly female) dog owners, in a style that ranges from informal to intimate,
featuring a subjective and personal perspective. For the bloggers, they function as a medium to
report on their dogs' lives, activities, experiences and emotions
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, but also as means to convey the
humans' emotional attachment to dogs, and to provide information and entertainment to likeminded
dog lovers.
As in blogging in general (see e.g. Blood 2002:12; Bruns 2006: 70; Myers 2010:2; Walker
Rettberger 2013: 18), dog blogging is, however, a much more varied and emergent phenomenon
than the definition above suggests. While some of the blogs look more or less like personal diaries,
other types include semi-professional, filter-type commentaries published on websites devoted to
sharing information on dogs and to networking with other dog owners, or on dog owners’ personal
websites, as well as essay-type blogs that can contain both external and personal content. At one
extreme, there are professional blogs about dogs by dog breeders or trainers, in which the
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According to a Nielsen/McKinsey company (2012), by the end of 2011, there were over 181 million blogs in the
world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006. Overall, 6.7 million people publish blogs on blogging
websites, and another 12 million write blogs using their social networks. Most bloggers are women, and half of
bloggers are aged 18-34 (http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-
bloggers-and-blog-readers.html).
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dissemination and discussion of information about dogs’ characteristics, training and care often is
the main objective. Often, blogs like these can have some commercial agenda as well, as when
particular services or paraphernalia are being marketed to dog owners. At the other extreme, there
are blogs that represent and tell stories about dogs and life with dogs with an intention to please and
entertain others who are interested in dogs. The blogs in focus in this article belong to this category,
although they, too, can include or link to more factual or commercial aspects of dog rearing. Dog
blogs also vary according to their narrative conventions in that they include texts that can use either
the dog owner or the dog as the source of the information and the narrator of the stories told in the
blogs. In this article, the latter type is discussed. Furthermore, dog blogs rarely are stand-alone
monologues, but, again, as typical of blogs in general, they thrive on the orientation to, responses of
and interaction with an audience (Walker Rettberger 2013: 21, 47). In this sense, they could be
characterized as a particular type of interest-driven and informal social media communication
(Leppänen and Kytölä, forthcoming).
Dog blogs are a popular genre. A simple Google search with the search words “dog blogs” yields
184 000 000 entries and “dog diaries” 15 200 000 entries (January 15, 2015). Dog blogs are also a
global genre: although it is most popular in the US, it seems that they are also written by dog
owners in other parts of the world (i.e. in places and cultures where dogs are appreciated as animals
and pets) in different languages. As an illustration, Table (1) shows how on the international
Dogster website, the source of the present data, there is information on over 500 000 dogs from all
over the world. The site markets itself as “a forum to share love of dogs virtually” and publishes
information and advice on dogs and their care, breeding and training, and photos and stories about
dogs, as well as providing various services (such as dog adoption service). It is operated by SAY
Media, Inc., a privately held company in San Francisco, CA, USA.
Table 1: Most popular countries of residence of dogs in Dogster
Most popular countries of residence
of dogs presented in Dogster
Number
United States 410,124
Canada 23,601
Philippines 13,376
United Kingdom 8,185
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Australia 5,429
Singapore 2,695
Malaysia 1,731
Indonesia 1,553
Brazil 1,097
New Zealand 887
India 817
Mexico -- 736
Germany -- 701
South Africa -- 636
Netherlands -- 594
(www.dogster.com , accessed on January 16, 2015)
Out of all the dogs whose information is recorded in the Dogster website, 79 769 dogs also have
their own blog. In this international site practically all blogs are in English, which in its own way is
a clear indication of how having dogs is a translocal and transcultural phenomenon, i.e. both locally
meaningful and popular practice, and shared culture mediated, contributed to and upheld by
digitally connected participants from different parts of the world.
The popularity of dog blogs, as well as the visibility of dogs themselves in social media, no doubt
reflect the close and historically unique relationship that humans and dogs have had (Thurston
1996; Pietiläinen 2013). Simply put, dogs have been and continue to be valued companions, aids
and protectors of humans. According to a survey on attitudes to dogs (Bonas et al. 2000: 219-25),
this is shown, for example, in how pet dogs as companions of the human score higher than humans
on a number of social or relational provisions such as providing reliable alliance, nurturance, and
companionship, while human relationships score higher overall in terms of aggregating social
support. In other words, people have come to rely increasingly on dogs as their significant or even
primary means of social and emotional support (Katz 2003). For some (see e.g. Garber 1996), this
may even mean that dogs are seen as what make us human.
The exceptional relationship of humans and dogs also shows in how, over time, dogs have become
a particular symbolizing system to externalize and dramatize what humans think (Daston and
Mittman 2005: 12). Thanks to their long history of domestication and co-habitation with humans,
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dogs have become handy metaphors with which humans can speak of themselves (Daston and
Mittman 2005: 11) A good illustration of this is how in western cultural traditions dogs have long
been used as protagonists and speaking subjects in fictional, entertaining, fantastic and moral stories
- consider, for instance, Aesop's fables dating back to the Greek antiquity, medieval bestiaries, 17th
century fables by LaFontaine, or modern fiction, comics and popular cinema (Daston 2005: 50-1;
Pietiläinen 2013). According to Daston and Mittman (2005: 12-3), why dogs, or, more generally,
animals, are in fact such a fertile symbolizing system has to do with their performativity: they are
not static images of human projections, but through their embodied actions they actively, and to an
extent in an agentive way, mobilize them in a way that humans find much more intriguing than, for
example, flowers, dolls or robots. In this sense, blogs that use dogs to externalize and dramatize
what humans think are a new variation of an age-old story. However, as I will show below, this
adaptation is not only a continuation of what has always been there, but it also highlights how the
tenacious trope of dogs is taken up and made to function as a particular means for authentication of
human identity in a context in which other means of authentication are few or altogether absent.
3. AUTHENTICATION, NORMATIVITY AND VENTRILOQUISM IN SOCIAL MEDIA
As was argued above, the oxymoronic case of dogs writing about themselves is here used to
highlight ways in which participants in social media niches orient to authenticity as an important
socio-cultural value or ideology (Bucholtz 2003: 400), and how, in such niches where there often
are few or no pre-given identity parameters guiding orientation to and interaction with others,
authenticity is something that the participants need to deliberately signal to each other.
In terms of normativity, this means that identification in social media niches, such as dog blogging,
is best seen as a discursive orientation towards sets of features that are or can be seen as emblematic
of particular situated identities (Blommaert and Varis 2013). Further, as I will show in my analysis,
such discursive orientations often involve positioning in relation to multiple centres of normativity
competing with and complementing each other (Blommaert et al. 2005; Leppänen 2009; Blommaert
2010:37-39). Consequently, what we often witness in social media practices is late modern post-
Panopticon normativity in action (Arnaut 2012; see also Varis and Wang 2012; Leppänen et al.
2014), manifesting in the lack of centralised mechanisms of control by ‘those in power’ and in a
shift to forms of peer policing of participant activities (Leppänen and Piirainen-Marsh 2009).
Despite the polycentric and emergent nature of such forms of governmentality and normativity,
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they effectively hail social media participants and police them into communicative and social
conformity (Leppänen 2009). In this way, I argue, dog blogs – or, more generally, social media
discursive practices that demonstrate the emergence and gradual crystallization of new
normativities - illustrate how issues of authenticity emerging in social media can respond to, speak
of and contribute to social change (Coupland, in press).
Stepping into these theoretical footholds also implies that, instead of authenticity, it is really
authentication (Bucholtz 2003; Bucholtz and Hall 2004; see also Nørreby and Møller in this issue;
Kytölä and Westinen in this issue) that becomes both individually and collectively a central socio-
cultural practice in social media. In Bucholtz’s words (2003: 408), authentication could be defined
as follows:
Where authenticity presupposes that identity is primordial, authentication views it as
the outcome of constantly negotiated social practices. [...] It is the tactic of
authentication that produces authenticity as its effect. Thus sociolinguistics should
speak not of authenticity but more accurately of authenticity effect, achieved through
the authenticating practices of those who use and evaluate language. (Bucholtz 2003:
408)
Thus authenticity – here, a sense of being a legitimate participant or a member in a social media
niche – can be achieved by mobilizing particular linguistic and other semiotic resources in ways
that are foregrounded and reflexively taken as appropriate (see also Staehr in this issue) in the
particular socio-cultural context.
What I will show in my analysis is that the practices with which dog bloggers can achieve an
authenticity effect in the affinity space
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provided by Dogster crucially involve crafting discourse
that strives, through seeming disauthentication of the writers as humans, to authenticate them as
someone with a legitimate access and participation rights in dog blogging, but also, more generally,
as people with a particular kind of moral and ideological orientation towards dogs, themselves and
others. Again, I will also demonstrate how such seemingly abstruse practice can make a more
general point about authentication. I will do so by highlighting ways in which authentication is
constructed by putting up a multi-voiced performance in which, for example, a variety is artificially
taken up and stylized by a speaker to whom the variety is not normally felt to belong (Rampton
1999: 501), and who thus performs a deliberate imposture, posing as someone who s/he is not
(Kramsch 2012).
2
An affinity space refers to a location where groups of people are drawn together because of a shared, strong interest or
engagement in a common activity (see e.g. Gee 2005).
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Authentication through stylization, or imposture, thus involves the mobilization of more than one
voice, (‘polyphony’, as defined by Bakhtin 1993). Following Bakhtin (1993: 15; see also Rampton
2006: 133), multi-voicedness can be seen to involve a variety of distinct (idiolectal, sociolectal,
stylized) voices and representations of consciousness centripetally coming together more or less
harmoniously in the production of unified discourse. Multi-voicedness has always been central in
translocal, informal and interest based social media practices (Leppänen 2009; 2012; Leppänen et
al. 2014; Kytölä forthcoming) that draw on, combine, recontextualize and resemiotize linguistic and
discursive resources originating from diverse sources (e.g. languages, varieties, cultural traditions,
geographical locations) for their niched purposes and audiences.
A form of multi-voicedness that has become particularly popular in social media practices recently
involves what could be called ventriloquism (for a detailed discussion of the long history of
ventriloquism in the Western culture, see Connor 2000). Once more, as a phenomenon
ventriloquism is by no means limited to social media practices, but it is, in fact, a recurring feature
of a range of contemporary discourse practices, such as collaboratively produced, or assisted
writing in which the task involves the production of first-person narratives with the assistance of
another or others (Jacklin 2005:1-2). Basically, in such ventriloquist practice, the participants, both
producers and audience, engage, in Jacklin’s words (2005: 2), in ”the simulation of voice
dissociated from its source. That dissociation evokes awe and mystery, power and mastery, yet also
implies an acknowledgement of its inherent deceit and its own impossibility.” To Jacklin (2005:2),
the ventriloquist nature of collaborative writing explains why
assisted life writing has through the centuries of its production been both appealing
and appalling in fairly equal measure. […] [T]he metaphor of ventriloquism neatly
captures the simultaneity of fascination and distaste readers experience in the
consumption of the collaborative voice.
Following de Certeau (1988), Jacklin (2005) also emphasizes that voice is a product of tensions, of
forces that draw and pull, of pressures that may be productive as well as obstructive. Further, he
(2005: 13) argues, “[h]ow that voice reaches the page, from whom, with whom, through whom, for
whom, because of whom, or in spite of whom all contributes to the inflections that may be
detected”.
It is relatively easy to extend and recontextualize Connor’s and Jackclin’s arguments here, and
argue that, like ventriloquism in general, and assisted life writing in particular, dog blogs engage in
the simulation of a voice ridden by tensions and divisions, dissociated from its source, pervasively
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contaminated by the human voice and human perceptions and discourses about dogs, as well as
inflected in ways that contribute to the perception of this kind of ventriloquist writing as both
curiously fascinating and distasteful.
Importantly, dog blogs are not that exceptional as a form of ventriloquist social media practice.
Other similar examples can easily be found. These include other popular practices that crucially
build on entextualization and resemiotization (Leppänen et al. 2014) as key semiotic means for
expression and communication. For instance, fan fiction imitating and appropriating cult discourses
(Leppänen 2008, 2012), as well as buffalaxing and mashupping that simulate oriental others’ and
political figures’ voices (Leppänen and Häkkinen 2012) also in their own ways engage in
ventriloquism where the voices of the original and of the ventriloquist are made to intermingle to
create (multi-voiced and ambiguous) interventional fan culture, critical humour, and entertaining
political critique and activism. In this sense, the ventriloquism of dog blogging draws on and is
supported by an emergent and dynamically unravelling tradition.
To recap, the theoretical take of this paper on the key themes of this special issue is a
problematizing one: rather than authenticity, it focuses on authentication. Rather than looking at
features of discourse that could be taken to index in a straightforward way emblematic aspects of
identity, it looks at ways in which, via a discursive orientation to a range of centres of normativity,
an impression of authenticity is crafted and acknowledged. More specifically, such an
authentication depends on deliberate ventriloquism, in which the human performs a stylization of
the dog's imagined voice, and in which the dog serves as the human ventriloquist's dummy.
Authentication and normativity are thus seen as intertwined with one another: authentication relies
on the mobilizing discursive resources with which the human blogger can legitimately claim access
to and right to participate as both a blogger and a particular kind of a person in the social space
provided by the Dogster website. What I thus address specifically in this article are the discursive
means bloggers use to authenticate their own dog blog production. In this investigation,
normativity is a relevant concept, because of the striking similarities across the discursive means
used by different bloggers from around the world.
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4. HOW IS THE VENTRILOQUIST VOICE PRODUCED AND WHAT IS IT SAYING
ABOUT HUMANS AND THEIR DOGS?
In the following, I will show, with examples drawn from the Dogster website, how authentication is
achieved in dog blogging, and what particular authenticity effects are thus created. I will focus on
blogs written in English that use the dog’s voice and perspective, by writers who are based in the
United States, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Finland. The reason these blogs are
particularly interesting for the purposes of this article is that they demonstrate how in interest-
driven and informal social media practices in which the contributors come from different parts of
the world, the translocality and transculturality of the forms of participation have a decisive impact
on authentication. In such social spheres in which, in principle, very little can initially be assumed
of the identities of the other participants, it becomes necessary to authenticate oneself and others
discursively, by establishing, maintaining, monitoring and regulating the ways in which participants
can present themselves, craft their messages, choose the styles of communication and language, and
orient to and interact with others. Often, such a situation leads to the emergence and collectively
enforced complex normativities, ranging from very explicit (instructions, guidelines, etiquette,
moderation, censorship, commentaries) to very implicit, to-be-inferred norms (preferred styles,
language and other semiotic choices, forms of interaction); and from very specific, situated norms
(such as site-specific, ‘idiosyncratic’ modes of discourse practice) through norms transferred from
other settings (such as school) as well as to more general, socio-cultural norms (for more, see, e.g.
Leppänen 2009; Kytölä 2013; Varis and Wang 2011).
In my analysis, drawing on discourse studies, and informed by my long-term ethnographic
investment in the observation of informal and interest-driven social media practices, I will pay close
attention to the contents, linguistic choices and discourse features that writers select to authenticate
themselves as dog bloggers for the other contributors in the affinity space of Dogster. In my
analysis I will here concentrate on investigating the blog entries only, excluding the comments and
other responses (e.g. “likes”, “bones”, “rosettes”) by blog audiences. This decision is justified by
my wish to show how the orientations in extended discourse, such as dog blogs, themselves
illustrate the sociality of social media: how they respond to, contribute to and interact with the
emergent norms and conventions of their social media affinity spaces (see above, also Leppänen
2009; Leppänen et al. 2014).
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Although the site is a public one, and the contributors use aliases to log on to the site, I will avoid
referring to these aliases as well as to the dogs’ names. This is because the data examples can give
(and have given) rise to critical comments and even concerns about the kind of persons who
actually engage in dog blogging
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. Hence, by protecting the identities of the bloggers, I wish to
minimize the risk of possible trolling or otherwise harmful comments to the bloggers’ – in other
words, to protect them from possible risks.
I will also show how the choices made by the bloggers incrementally contribute to the construction
of a particular kind of authenticity that, at the outset, appears to promote and share unexpected
versions of identity, but that, in the end, draw on and mobilize quite conservative discourses of
identity, gender, class, and human-animal relationships. Along the lines suggested by Kramsch
(2012), this kind of analysis is thus geared towards discussing whose voice/s it is that we hear in
discourse, which discourses of truth are being drawn on and circulated, and in whose interests it is
to engage in the specific ways of authentication witnessed in the data.
4.1 Dogs keeping diaries
The dog blogs in my data – typical representatives of English language blogs by writers based in the
US, the UK, the Philippines and Finland – have all been published in Dogster during the past 10
years. Blogs by writers based in the US (c. 60 000), the UK (c. 1500 diaries) and the Philippines (c.
1500 diaries) are well represented overall in the website (see Table (1)), whereas blogs written by
writers based in Finland are a small minority. Out of the 79 769 dog blogs in Dogster only
approximately twenty originate in Finland.
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Although a small minority, blogs by Finland-based
writers are, however, interesting from the perspective of the sociolinguistic situation in Finland, as
they seem to corroborate the overall picture of the role, uses and functions of English in
contemporary Finland, (see e.g. Leppänen et al. 2009, 2011; Leppänen and Pahta 2012), showing
bloggers’, for whom English is an additional language, interest in and active engagement with
translocal and transcultural digital practices in English.
3
Discussions with conference audiences and with colleagues related to dog blogs have alerted me to the fact that many
people see the present data as extremely controversial and disconcerting, mainly because they seem to infantilize and
demean the bloggers behind the blogs. These reactions – as well as the widespread practices of online flaming, trolling
and harassment – call for caution. Therefore, an ethical decision here is in my view to protect the identities of the
subjects by at least making it not so easy to trace back who the original authors of the blogs have been.
4
At this point, it should be noted that all of these figures are approximations, based on my manual counting of blogs.
This is because the Dogster site does not include a search engine that can reliably sort out the number of blogs by
writers based in different countries.
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The blogs are written in a style that resembles traditional diary writing. Although the traditional
diary is not a uniform genre in that it can include various sub-genres (e.g. notebooks, logs,
confessional diaries, diaries with aesthetic goals) and styles of writing, even within one single diary
(Sääksilahti 2011: 25), what all diaries have in common is that they are autobiographical in nature.
Using the 1
st
person narrative voice, they report and reflect, often in a detailed way, on aspects of
the diarist’s life and display an authenticity and frankness that is unlike writing done for publication
(Maschuch 1996: 144-6). Further, diary writing, particularly in the 20
th
century, is commonly
associated with women and cultural processes whereby the everyday life and the home have
become femininized (Bunkers and Huff, 1996: 3; Culley 1998: 217-8; see also Sääksilahti 2011:
31). As to personal blogs, it has been argued that in many respects they resemble diaries a great deal
(see e.g. Herring et al. 2004), although, as Nardi and her colleagues (Nardi et al. 2004: 222) have
pointed out, this view, too, does oversimplify the situation. This is because, they argue, there seems
to be a great deal of variation of purposes, content, style within personal blogging, too. For
example, according to their ethnographic studies, many personal blogs actually resemble radio
shows more than personal diaries.
However, as far as blogging on dogs is concerned, a relatively conventional style of personal diaries
seems a preferred mode, although, they, too, often have an explicit orientation to other readers
besides the diarist-reader. The personal and private stance of dog blogs shows, firstly, in the way in
which they often are explicitly designed as entries in a personal diary, with a 1
st
person Singular
voice. Further, in the same way as in traditional diary writing, typical topics dog blogs address
include experiences, feelings, concerns, relationships and epiphanies in the diarist’s life – with the
exception that the diarist in dog blogs is a multi-voiced one – a human pretending to be a dog. The
entries usually tell chronological stories about everyday life in which there are mundane, but from
the dog’s viewpoint, significant events and activities, such as playing, eating, training, and
socializing with humans and other dogs, as well as confrontations and conflicts with humans, cats
and other dogs. To these the dog is then described to react by accounts, typically written in an
informal and intimate style, of what it feels and thinks about them. For instance, consider the ways
in which example (1) from a blog featuring a US-based dog highlights such features
5
:
5
The extracts from blogs are presented in their original form. The idiosyncratic expressions, typos and misspellings in
them are thus not by the present author.
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Example (1) – A US-based Tibetan Spaniel:
man. Momma and I started obedience class last night. I am sorry to say that it was not
our best showing. I am really scared of dogs I don't know...and my cute little tail that
is usually curled up on my back was tuck, tuck, tucked between my legs! Yikes!
Those other dogs, even the little ones were FRIGHTENING! I did a lot of growling
and made "wookie" noises as momma calls them. (I guess I sound a lot like
Chewbacca.)
Anyway, another dog had the audacity to lunge at me - well, I tell ya, I snapped at
him!! I nearly bit his nose. Ha! That'll show him!
At any rate, I did get really good at looking at momma's face. I paid really good
attention! I even laid down and took a rest in class. We played a game called "come
find me" too. I found my momma behind a big white sheet! Wicked cool!
Well, my friend Floyd just told me that we Tibetans are too smart for obedience. Yes!
Wait until I go tell momma....
4.2 Dogs using doggielect
One of the clearest indications of the investment that the human ventriloquists make in dog
blogging is how the blogs strive to create an impression of the actual style, a doggielect, in which
dogs (could) talk and write. Example (2), an extract from a blog of a Philippines-based Shih Tzu,
illustrates how this effect can be created:
Example (2) – A Philippines-based Shih Tzu
I can't pawlieve dogster actually made a section just us small breeds! PAWSOME!!!
It's about time dogster paid tribute to us - the little ones!
I just found out a while ago when mommy opened up her email and saw the one about
the new section on dogster. She was surprised to see it and me immediately. Of
course, we checked it out. If I'm not mistaken, we're celebrating Patterdale Terriers
today! Which is pawsome, cause they're small! Paws up for the little ones!
Anyways, if you wanna check it out (if you're small dog or a small dog lover, like my
mommy) just click the link in between "news" and "add a dog". I hope you find it. :D
Well, if not, I'll be nice to ya. Here's the link. Enjoy!
Yet again, thanks to HQ fur the great idea! And thanks also to Purina Mighty Dog fur
the support! Pawlease check out their site! They made a special doggie food fur us
little pups!
15
In example (2), the doggielect consists of a combination of playful orthographic modifications
(“pawlieve”, “PAWSOME”, “Pawlease”, “fur”), modified idioms (“paws up”). Further, as
witnessed by all the other examples discussed in this paper, dogs seem to favour vernacular and
informal spelling and style (“wanna”, “cause”), use syntactically simple sentences, and features
indicating emphasis and emotionality (e.g. exclamation marks, upper case spellings). At the same
time, such distinctive doggielect expressions are combined with text that, with a distinctly more
formal and standard style and spelling, conveys an image of and comment on the human’s actions,
too: in this example, this shows in the way in which the dog is made to describe the actions of its
owner (”I just found out a while ago when mommy opened up her email…”; “she was surprised to
see it”).
That this kind of idiolect is something shared translocally and transculturally is shown in the next
two examples, example (3) representing a US-based Cairns Terrier, and example (4) a Finland-
based Golden Retriever:
Example (3): A US-based Cairns Terrier:
Gwanma is comin! Gwanma is coming! She is coming all the way from a place called
Florida and this will be my first time meeting her. I am so nervous that I am doing
laps or as MJF says zoomies. Mom told me that she spoils her Grandfur children and
actually gives out cheese! Can you believe it ...CHEESE! I think I overheard mom say
something about giving me a bath..Gotta go hide now..Happy Summer everyone and
keep close when your peeps do the grilling because they are bound to drop some tasty
meat! Can you smell it? Here it comes..SUMMER!!
Example (4): a Finland-based Golden Retriever
Woof! It has been soooo cold here these days: -35'C or – 31F!!! When I went out
today with my mami, my paws started hurting immediately, it was so cold. So I had to
run back in really fast. Oh, it makes me a little bit sad that I can't go out well, and so I
would like to play with my mami all the time...but of course, mamies always have so
many things to do she can't play with me so much. But last weekend we had a lovely
Sunday at one beautiful forest, we were walking there a lot and after we cooked some
great sausages at one small hut (and I ate 2 whole sausages!), and it was soooo good!
That was my best Sunday of the year!
Examples (3) and (4) are quite similar to the first two examples. Typical features of the doggielect
again include modifications of standard orthographical forms and word play (e.g. “gwanma” and
“Granddfur children”; ”sooo cold”, ”soooo goood”), canine’ wordings (“woof”), simple syntax and
markers of emphasis and emotions (e.g. “sooo cold”, exclamations, upper case). All of these
16
features could also be argued to suggest that the dog is somewhat childlike (e.g. the dog is unable to
pronounce the [r]-sound). Along with the other means of impression building in these three
examples (see below), these features highlight the dog’s simple and naïve thought processes,
emotions and interpretations (e.g. the description of excited responses to cheese or sausages). Thus,
what we begin to see is an image of the dog as a hybrid creature: simultaneously canine, human and
infantile.
Such deliberate crafting and dramatized performance of a distinctive style is, in fact, a good
example of stylization, as defined by Rampton (2013: 361), as “reflexive communicative action in
which speakers produce specially marked and often exaggerated representations of linguistic
varieties that lie outside their habitual repertoire”. Why such stylization is called for in this site can
have several explanations. Firstly, it may have something to do with the fact that stylization offers
the bloggers a means to indicate that the blogs are to be seen as humorous and entertaining.
Secondly, the bloggers’ efforts to create an impression of a doggielect are, in principle, similar to
the ways in fiction writers craft styles for their characters that contribute to them as particular kinds
of personae, with particular kinds of relations, juxtapositions and tensions between them and other
characters. In this sense, bloggers use the same means as such masters of fictional polyphony as
Dostoyevski or Dickens (see, again Bakhtin 1993) for creating an impression of a particular kind of
social world. In this respect, the stylistically heterogenous doggielect is particularly interesting in
what it implies of the relationship between dogs and humans: even though the dog is granted a
speaking voice and a way of speaking of its own, and thus some agency in the blogs, it also seems
that the human is still depicted as the one that has the power to determine what the dog gets to
comment on (e.g. eating cheese or sausages, going for walks in the snow). In other words, the
humans are depicted to control over what the dog gets to and is allowed to do and say. In this way,
the doggielect could be seen as simply a token gesture. Consequently, while the blogs assign dogs
some agency, they actually use the dogs’ voices to show to other dog lovers how well and
responsibly the humans treat their dogs.
4.3 Dogs as narrators and focalizers
Besides the doggielect, another strategy used in the blogs that illustrates their ventriloquist agenda
is how the updates of the dog’s life are narrated as if by the dog itself, from its point of view,
representing its experiences, thoughts, feelings and evaluations. Example (5), an extract from a UK-
based German Shepherd is a case in point:
17
Example (5) – a UK-based German Shepherd:
Ok, I have never written a diary before, usually my thoughts are wasted on my brother
Obi. Mum woke us up at about 7.30 am today, had to laugh at her standing in the
garden watching us do our business. It was raining buckets, she reckons she has to
watch us cos I try to escape. Well Thats what she says! My skin brothers go to school
and my skin sister is usually with mum, but today my brother came home again. Mum
said he to go to the dentist, whatever that is. So our walk ws really short this morning,
just an hour! Doesnt she realise I have needs too! There's bushes to sniff and alsorts,
and you cant get mutch done in an hour! She went out for 2 hours, I got a little bored
so decided to redecrota my crate, by redesigning my Duvet. It was my best work yet,
but mum said nothing, and then, get this, she cleaned out my crate and put all the little
fuzzy bits in the extra food box, (my mum calls it a bin, we aren't technically aloud in
there, but hey.) All that hard work! Then around the time of the humans dinner, mum
is chopping and washing all kind of tastey things, then that box rings, and mum goes
to talk to it, (weirdo, it doont stop making that stupid noise till mum talks to it, I make
noise and I get told thankyou, and then I feel I have to shut up) Well while she was
comforting the ringing box, my furbrother obi got the good stuff of the high thing, and
boy was that good. Mum seemed really cross about it, but we really did appreciate it.
peppers taste good. well inner will be ready soon so I will sign of for now, chiao, x
Example (5) illustrates a recurrent practice in the blogs in which the dog is presented as both the
source of the words, the narrator, as well as the consciousness through which everything included in
the blog is filtered to readers - its focalizer. In this example, the dog tells a chronological story of its
day. This it does from the dog’s subjective perspective, so that we are given access to ways in
which the dog experiences, interprets and evaluates the humans, other dogs, and the events and
actions described in the blog. Again, we notice that, in the same way as the doggielect, also the
narration and focalization illustrated by example (5) aim to enforce the idea of the dog as both dog-
and humanlike. On the one hand, the blog refers to behaviour that is distinctly canine (e.g. sniffing)
and wild (stealing food). In addition, example (5) shows how the dog’s narration and thought
processes are peppered by details that distinguish it from humans (e.g. it is not able to name and
understand the phone or the table, or to comprehend that it destructive ripping of its duvet, its
“work”, is not appreciated by the humans). On the other hand, the dog is also described in very
human terms, as for example having the capacity to analyse human behaviour (“Doesn’t she realize
I have needs too!”), and to make sophisticated distinctions between its species and the humans
(“skinbrothers” vs. “furbrothers”). Thus, the human writer’s voice can be detected in the details
s/he chooses to include in the story to represent the dog’s thoughts, emotions and perceptions.
Once more, the author is depicting the dog, or, more specifically, its way of narration, as well as its
perceptions, thoughts and emotions in a way that presents the dog as an entertaining, and to Dogster
audiences at least, endearing creature that has both animal and human characteristics.
18
Dogs are also crafted as rounded characters, with personality traits, peculiarities and preferences,
and they self-evidently take the centre stage in their blogs. Interestingly, however, the blog also
suggests that the human-dog relation is not entirely harmonious, as the dog is made to complain, for
example, that it is not fully capable of understanding the human world, nor is its “mommy” fully
able to understand the dog’s instinctive needs. The otherness of the dog is thus not completely
tamed – again, we thus hear the voice of the good and responsible dog owner who via the dog’s
voice tells other dog owners that, even though the diary format places the dog as the protagonist,
narrator and focalizer, this does not mean that dog would cease to be an animal whose instinctual
wildness s/he also needs to appreciate.
4.4 Dog as a (naughty) child of the responsible middle class mother
It is no doubt obvious by now that there is a tendency in dog blogs to characterize dogs as sweet,
sensitive, and intelligent, albeit infantile, creatures which are eager to interact with their human
companions. Example (6) – an extract from a blog on a Finland-based dog also illustrates these
qualities of dogs:
Example (6) - A Finland-based French Boxer
Today i went to see my dog cousin (my human moms brothers german
shepperd) We played and played. Eaven if he is so big compared to me, i keep
him in order. I learned it from my real mom. […]
When we got back in the car, i was so tired that i was just sleepping. But i think
that my mommy got some bones from santa advanced. I could smell through
the bag that there were some bones wrapped in the papers. So i must have
been good. Well, some bad things i have done but mommy forgave me already. I
broke the remotecontrol of tv ( i was trying to put the tv on cause i was bored) i
jumped on the table and dropped some bowl down and broke it ( i was just
trying to smell what was in it ) , i opend the capord in the bathroom and i took
mommys "wemen staff" and teared paggages, bited tubes and tasted evrything
(wanted to have a girlsday with my mom ) i got in to toilet and i took all pakage
of toiletpaper and teared them around the apartment ( well , i was just bored
but atleast i made my mommy to laugh)But otherwise i have been real good and
santa will give me presents i know :-)
Like all the other examples discussed so far, this extract not only includes descriptions of the dog
and its life, but it also refers to and evaluates the actions of the dog’s significant human other. These
often take the form of explanations of how s/he tries to control, train and pamper the dog, and of
what s/he thinks about the events and activities the dog engages in. In most blogs of my data, the
19
significant other is the female owner of the dog, referred to as “Mamma”, Mama”, “Mummy”,
“mom” or “Mami”. In these ways, dog blogs emphasize that they are really of interest to women
(who love dogs), and that the relationship between the female owner and the dog is considered
similar to the one between a mother and a child.
The description in example (6) of the mother-child relationship between the female dog owner and
the dog is a case in point: it illustrates how dog blogs position the female dog owner as the mother
of the canine child in the private realm of her domestic life. In this example, the dog is also
presented as a particularly naughty child – not an untypical characterization in dog blogs – creating
havoc, ripping and destroying things. Nevertheless, the dog-child seems confident that whatever
naughtiness (i.e. animal-like behaviour) it engages in, it will be forgiven. The mother is thus
depicted as a good, understanding and loving one. No doubt, in such a depiction we can again
detect a moral validation of the dog owner as someone who truly cares for her pet.
This kind of recurrent emphasis on the mother-canine dog relationship in the blogs is a good
example of what social psychological research has posited about the relationship between women
and dogs in cultures that value dogs. For example, it has shown that women (especially women who
do not have children living with them) are more likely than men to develop strong bonds with their
companion animals and to develop "mothering" and “nurturing” relationships with them (Kellert
and Berry 1987; Margolies 1999; Turner 2001). The fact that such bonding is nowadays also
featured in social media could, in turn, be seen as an example of the ways in which young women
are increasingly featuring their private lives, families and everyday activities in their public
‘homing’ blogs (Jäntti and Järvinen 2014).
The blogs also suggest that the dog is a full member of the human family. Examples (7) and (8)
give further evidence of dogs not only children, but also of their role as members of the family:
Example (7) A UK-based Great Dane
This is brill, we've found out that the pawrents are off on holiday on Saturday and are
leaving us at home for a WHOLE WEEK!! Our Auntie Heather is coming to look
after us while they're gone. How fab is that! She spoils us rotten and lets us do all
sorts of stuff that THEY won't.
I guess I will miss my mummy, yes of course I will. But having Auntie Heather for a
whole week ..... bliss!
Example (8): A Finland-based Boxer
20
I've been super busy for weeks now. The reason for this is that I have become A BIG
SISTER! Mummy's tummy finally showed us the stowaway that had been hiding there
for months, and now I have a funny little creature as a sister! Her name is Heini and
she is six weeks old. Guarding her is a full-time job, because she doesn't know that
many things as of yet.
First of all, she is not house-trained yet. It only took me two weeks to learn, but
Mummy tells me it can take up to two years with Heini. Two YEARS! Also, she
doesn't eat solids yet, not even my meatiest, juiciest bone that I gave her when she
came home from the hospital. Had to eat it myself, a good bone is hard to find you
know... [...]
The outcome of all this is that I need to instruct, guard and protect for most of the day.
But what can you do, one needs to support one's family! And on the other hand, Heini
is kinda sweet and very LICKABLE!
Better go and check on her. Maybe she has woken up while I was typing this... Ciao!
Both examples (7) and (8) describe the identities of and relationships between dogs and humans.
Dogs refer to humans as “pawrents”, “Aunties” and “sisters” and indicate that they have a human-
like emotional bond with them. Example (8) goes as far as equate the human child with dog
puppies, and presenting the dog as the instructor, guardian and protector of the baby who is not
”house-trained yet”. Essentially there is thus no fundamental difference or clear-cut borderline
between the humans and the animals, and the blogs play with the imagined parallels and contrasts
between them.
Further, the mothers, families and lifestyles depicted in the dog blogs are often of a particular kind.
As was suggested in the beginning of this article, dog blogs can be seen as a technology of the self,
whereby selves are manufactured and fashioned with particular discursive resources. So far I have
argued that as a technology it seems particularly useful to and popular among women, but, on the
basis of my data, it also seems that the women to whom it has most appeal are those who (aspire to)
identify with and index a middle class orientation. The connection between dogs and class in the
blogs echoes, in fact, a more general observation about attitudes to companion dogs. That these
attitudes are indexical of class identifications has been confirmed, for example, by recent work in
cultural sociology (e.g. Blouin 2009; Terries forthcoming). According to these studies, dog owners
fall into different social categories (Blouin 2009). For example, people from rural backgrounds tend
to view dogs more as guardians that should be kept outside, whereas more affluent people tend to
see their pets more as children (Terries forthcoming
).
With respect to dog blogs, I consider class as primarily a set of ‘correct’ cultural resources with
which people are required and strive to become subjects with value(Skeggs (2004: 77) and
with which they can articulate a class orientation (Bourdieu 1984: 175-176, 1998:4-6). In the
21
blogs, particularly interesting resources in this sense include, for example, the ways in which they
describe how dogs are treated, as well as the images of dogs associated with the blogs.
Firstly, the blogs frequently emphasize the meticulous ways in which dogs are taken care of. For
example, dogs are allowed to live inside and, as was noted above, are treated as full members of the
family. Further, they are carefully groomed, doctored, exercised, trained, pampered with expensive
accessories and toys, and given elaborate birthday parties. Generally dogs are given the same kind
of care as human children would be. Some of this care taken shows in example (9) in which the
preparations for a birthday party are described by a US-based Shih Tzu:
Example (9): A US-based Shih Tzu
Well momma got us all dressed up today and took us to a barkery! We think its where
you get baked goods for doggies because we seen all these collars and dog food bags
etc.
Momma got this special box full of goodies and hid them in the fridge. Plus I seen her
buy Bert some birthday squeeky balls and put them up in the cabinet. Now im sorry
but that dont seem right to me! When momma and daddy buys us toys we normally
get them that day!
Now why didnt she give them to us? I heard the B word a couple times and heard
gingers and hennessee's name mentioned along with fruit smoothies... hmmmm
I heard them say the number 1, could that be it? im 11 months old not 1 month old
whats up with dat!?
Only time will tell then I suppose...... well im off to tell bubby the secret about his
balls BOL
Similar attention to the dog’s needs and willingness to invest in its wellbeing is also evident in
example (10) that describes how a Philippines-based dog gets its own nanny:
Example (10): A Philippines-based Basset Hound
Hi all! I haven't been able to write for some time. My momma and pappy-uh have
been very busy. Since the beginning of New Year, so much has happened. Starting the
year with momma's pregnancy and pappy-uh getting sick, I haven't been able to get
my daily walks and sniffs. Life has been so borriiiing!
But not lately! Because you know what...my pappy-uh got me my very
own...NANNY! Well, she's not really entirely mine...but I think she wants to be. She
helps momma out with the house chores and errands that need to be taken care of.
Anyway, she is so nice to me and gives me walks at least 4x a day! I think I'm her
22
priority. We even go as far as the old lady's house down the street. Although momma
told nanny not to go farther than that because there's a vicious dog that keeps attacking
me there. I'm fine with that.
So, life is back to normal for me...and even better!
-spoiled dog
The styles in which dogs are visually represented in the context of their blogs could also be seen as
indexing a middle class orientation. For instance, consider the following pictures – they, too, show
the meticulous attention paid to dogs – grooming, clothing, giving them expensive gifts. The
anthropomorphic intention in these pictures in also very clear: the dogs are represented, dressed up
and accessorized (in often gender-specific ways) in the same way as humans would be:
Interestingly, gendering the dogs into distinctly feminine and masculine dogs does not seem to be
very typical in the written parts of the dog blogs. This may be due to the fact that most dog blogs
written in the dog’s voice tend to infantilize the dogs – so, rather than gender, it is their ’child-
23
likeness’ that is emphasized. Gender also intertwines with breed: for example, smaller dogs are
often seen as cuter and more adorable (and thus, more feminine), regardless of their sex.
5. IN CONCLUSION: HUMANS ANTHROPOMORPHIZING DOGS - DOGS
AUTHENTICATING HUMANS
In sum, the case of dogs blogging was used in this paper to highlight the ways in which in a
translocal and transcultural social media niche where the participants who know very little or
nothing about each other, in order to authenticate themselves and others draw on and index a shared
discursive orientation. My analysis showed that in order for such authentication to work, there
needs to be a consensus on the value and relevance of such an orientation, as well as some form of
collective uptake. In dog blogging, this was shown to be the case: dog bloggers from different
geographical, cultural and linguistic contexts of the world were shown to rely on and apply very
similar conventions and norms for crafting their blogs.
More specifically, my analysis demonstrated that the particular ways in which dog bloggers strive
to achieve an impression of authenticity involves a complex of linguistic and discursive strategies,
including the use of the generic conventions of the personal diary, a particular set of linguistic
features collectively imagined and enforced as characteristic of dogs, the presentation of the dog as
the first person narrator-focalizer, and the characterisation of the dog as a true hybrid dog-child of
the middle class mother. The discourse of dog blogs was shown to rely crucially on stylization, the
imaginative simulation of a dog’s voice, as well as on ventriloquism, the creation of double-voiced
discourse in which the description of dogs, their characteristics and their stories functioned as
means for human writers to gain and maintain their access to and rights to participate in the social
sphere of the global dog lovers in
Dogster
. In a way, it could be argued that in dog blogging, the
human bloggers are using the voice and perspective of another – in this case, of the dog – to
authenticate themselves as legitimate participants in dog blogging. This kind of view actually
means that authentication is fundamentally reflexive and social practice –something that can
actually be true of authentication more generally.
However, this not all there is to say about authentication in dog blogging, for dog blogging is not
only about legitimate participation rights, but also about moral authentication. As was shown above,
one of the most striking features of dog blogs is that they depict dogs as (at least partly) human-like,
thinking and feeling beings. In doing this, they are not alone, but draw on and recycle conventions
24
that we are familiar with from history, fiction, film and popular culture. For example, it has long
been a feature of the cultures that value dogs that humans, women, in particular, tend to treat their
dogs as if they possess human capabilities (Mithen 1996; Myers and Saunders 2002; Serpell, 2005),
believing that their pets genuinely love or admire them, miss them when they are away, feel joy at
their return, and are jealous when they show affection for a third party (Serpell 1996: 141-3). In this
respect, there seems thus to be nothing particularly new about dog blogs – they are digital versions
of an age-old, pervasive tendency for humans to anthropomorphize their companion animals. Thus
the blogs effectively reproduce and reaffirm this existing, and largely western, discourse about
dogs.
In a way, the pervasiveness and longevity of such discourse in dog blogging is all the more striking,
because anthropomorphism has recently been strongly criticized as non-ethical and harmful by
philosophers, animal activists, and even dog breeders. The criticisms against anthropomorphism,
also voiced in many popular guidebooks nowadays (see, e.g. the discussion in Horowitz 2009: 294-
6) means that by now they must be familiar to many dog owners, too. On the whole, as argued by
Markovits and Queen (2009: 326), in all the countries of the advanced industrial world,
anthropomorphism is beginning to be challenged and replaced by views which insist on treating
animals, dogs, in particular, in terms that do not build on a view of them as similar to humans. A
view like this is also strongly advocated by the philosopher Donna Haraway (2003: 11-2):
[C]ontrary to lots of dangerous and unethical projection in the Western world that
makes domestic canines into furry children, dogs are not about oneself. […] They are
dogs, i.e. a species in obligatory, constitutive, historical, protean relationship with
human beings.
Why anthropomorphism still continues to be such a pervasive discourse practice in a context like
dog blogs
may, however, be motivated, besides by the fact that it can provide bloggers with useful,
sharable and transparent resources for authentication, because the blogs are not only about dogs, but
also – and perhaps more importantly – about humans. In this sense, the anthropomorphic discourse
the bloggers draw on does not only serve them as a resource to represent dogs as human-like, but
also to represent humans as dog-like. In fact, I would like to argue that the blogs promote a
particular idealised version of (dog loving) human beings, especially of women, and their identities,
lifestyles and values. In their own way, they convey an image of what makes life meaningful and
fulfilling: experiencing and enjoying life to the full in the domestic context: family, friends, good
25
meals, get-togethers, festivities, nature, play, material comforts, selfless love. In this picture, then,
dogs are the kind of creatures also human beings should be. This kind of a promotion of ideal
identities and lifestyles can, however, also be seen as highly disciplinary and political: especially in
relation to women, it seems to suggest that a traditional, middle-class, home-centred, domestic
lifestyle and identity are ones that best ensure a happy and balanced life for them.
To conclude, I have demonstrated how the authentication practices that participants in dog blogging
engage in and collaboratively ratify runs deeper than simply ensuring their access and legitimacy in
participating in dog blogging in convivial ways. Importantly, dog blogging also involves the
authentication of humans with particular values and ideologies: humans who can also index to
others that their orientation to both dogs and humans is morally, socially, culturally, and even
politically, the kind expected by other like-minded (dog loving) humans.
Acknowledgements
I’m very grateful to the Aaltonen Foundation for giving me the opportunity to concentrate on
writing my paper and editing the special issue. I also wish to thank The Faculty of Humanities at
University of Jyväskylä for making it possible for our research group to organize one of our
preparatory seminars with the Amager project team in Copenhagen. Most of all, I thank the
Jyväskylä and Copenhagen teams for the genuine spirit for collaboration, inspiring discussions, and
good cheer. It was a great ride! Jens Normann, this is for you!
26
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Bionote
Sirpa Leppänen is a Professor at the Department of Languages at University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
With her research team (http://www.socialmediadiscourses.fi/ ), she investigates the ways in which
resources provided by languages, other forms of semiosis and discourses are used by individuals
and groups in social media and the ways in which such resources are used for social action and
cultural production.
... This understanding allows us 'to track down the dynamic trajectory thereof and thus to tap into the complexities associated with meaning-making in digital discourse' (Theodoropoulou, 2016, p. 29). As Leppänen et al. (2015) similarly point out, superdiversity in social media is realised by 'the mobility and mobilisation of linguistic and other semiotic resources that are distributed and resemiotised in various ways in countless and rhizomatic digital media practices mushrooming on the internet' (p. 4). ...
... 4). Meaning-making processes in relocalisation can bring a distinctly different meaning to the existing linguistic and multimodal resources because of the recombination of different linguistic and cultural repertoires, drawn from multiple sites/contexts/networks, while operating across different modalities (Leppänen et al., 2013(Leppänen et al., , 2015. ...
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PART I: POWERS 1. What I Say Goes PART II: PROPHECIES 2. Earth, Breath, Frenzy: The Delphic Oracle 3. Origen, Eustathius, and The Witch of Endor PART III: POSSESSIONS 4. Hoc Est Corpus 5. The Exorcism of John Darrell 6. O, that Oh is the Devill: Glover and Harsnett PART IV: PRODIGIES 7. Miracles and the Encyclopedie 8. Speaking Parts: Diderot and Les Bijoux indiscrets 9. The Abbe and the Ventriloque 10. The Dictate of Phrenzy: Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland PART V: POLYPHONICS 11. Ubiquitarical 12. At Home and Abroad: Monsieur Alexandre and Mr Matthews 13. Phenomena in the Philosophy of Sound: Mr Love 14. Writing the Voice PART VI: PROSTHETICS 15. Vocal Reinforcement 16. Talking Heads, Automaton Ears 17. A Gramophone in Every Grave PART VII: NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT 18. No Time Like the Present Works Cited Index