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Multilingual Eurovision meets plurilingual YouTube: Linguascaping discursive ontologies



This research examines ‘virtual linguistic landscapes’ (Ivković and Lotherington 2009) visible in user-generated comment fields associated with video clips of the Eurovision Song Contest. We begin by discussing contemporary sociolinguistic approaches and terminology (e.g. multi-, pluri-, polylingualism) attuned to complex phenomena in social media language contact zones. Following an application of these approaches to data, we argue that the emergence of a user-generated virtual linguistic landscape is usefully understood as a process of ‘linguascaping’ (Jaworski et al. 2003; Ivković 2012); i.e. linguistic engagements that propagate opinions, beliefs and ideological positions. As applied to YouTube comment fields, linguascaping suggests an agentive process of constructing and contesting possible ethno-linguistic identifications and power relations through semiotic resources.
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Dialogue in Multilingual
and Multimodal Communities
Edited by
Dale A. Koike
Carl S. Blyth
University of Texas at Austin
John Benjamins Publishing Company
Amsterdam / Philadelphia
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 
Multilingual Eurovision meets
plurilingual YouTube
Linguascaping discursive ontologies
Steven L. orne and Dejan Ivković
Portland State University and University of Groningen / York University
is research examines ‘virtual linguistic landscapes’ (Ivković and Lotherington
2009) visible in user-generated comment elds associated with
video clips of the Eurovision Song Contest. We begin by discussing contem-
porary sociolinguistic approaches and terminology (e.g. multi-, pluri-, poly-
lingualism) attuned to complex phenomena in social media language contact
zones. Following an application of these approaches to data, we argue that the
emergence of a user-generated virtual linguistic landscape is usefully under-
stood as a process of ‘linguascaping’ (Jaworski et al. 2003; Ivković 2012); i.e. lin-
guistic engagements that propagate opinions, beliefs and ideological positions.
As applied to YouTube comment elds, linguascaping suggests an agentive pro-
cess of constructing and contesting possible ethno-linguistic identications and
power relations through semiotic resources.
. Introduction
In the new millennium, a primary enabler of collective engagement is networked
communication and information technologies. Over the past few decades, the
global Internet user population has grown to nearly 3 billion.
Over this time pe-
riod, Internet users have extended historically conventional forms of textual and
voice communication as well as initiated a range of emergent social formations
mediated by communicative genres and plurilingual literacy practices that, argu-
ably, exhibit new forms of sociability and relationship building and maintenance
(e.g. Barton and Lee 2013; Jones and Hafner 2012; orne 2012). Scholars have
diered in their assessment of how ‘new’ new media social and communication
., accessed June 9, 2014
 ./ds..tho
©  John Benjamins Publishing Company
Thorne, S. L., & Ivković, D. (2015). Multilingual Eurovision Meets Plurilingual YouTube: Linguascaping
Discursive Ontologies. In D. Koike & C. Blyth (Eds.), Dialogue in Multilingual, Multimodal, and
Multicompetent Communities of Practice (pp. 167-192). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
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 Steven L. orne and Dejan Ivković
practices truly are, with some suggesting that core aspects of the human commu-
nicative condition remain stable, but in new packaging (e.g. Baron 2008). Oth-
ers have suggested that the shis visible in online discourse do indeed indicate
substantive changes in the ways humans relate to one another in more ephem-
eral contact zones as well as durable online communities (e.g. Jenkins 2006;
Lankshear and Knobel 2008; orne and Black 2007).
A number of recent publications have examined various social media and
video sharing environments as ‘linguistic landscapes’ (Ifukor 2011; Ivković 2013;
Ivković and Lotherington 2009; Moriarty 2012; Troyer 2012). Here, we explicitly
build upon the concept of ‘linguistic landscapes’ (Landry and Bourhis 1997), with
its emphasis on analysis of language use in physical geographies such as public
signage and retail advertising (e.g. Cenoz and Gorter 2006; Shohamy and Gorter
2008), and apply this framework to interaction in online contexts. In particular,
we examine ‘virtual linguistic landscapes’ (Ivković and Lotherington 2009) that
take the form of bottom-up (user-generated) comment elds asso-
ciated with video clips of the Eurovision Song Contest. YouTube comment elds
exemplify the key idea of linguistic landscapes; namely, the visibility and salience
of language choice and other semiotic markers delineating ethno-linguistic pres-
ence and power relations. is empirical setting illustrates an enthusiasm for the
Eurovision Song Contest, a mainstream media event that catalyzes voluminous
communicative engagement in a separate media context (YouTube comment
elds). More broadly, this dynamic of aliation, expression and circulation of
ideas, opinions and ideologies in and through digital media has been usefully
described as “participatory culture” (Jenkins 2006). is case of participatory cul-
ture involves a number of emergent and conicting discourse situations arising
in Eurovision competition venues that reect current events in the political arena
and that ultimately appear in YouTube comment elds.
Focusing on user-generated discourses, we explore the communicative dy-
namics and interactional repertoires that these multi-party spaces enable. As a
preface to an empirical examination of comment elds associated with YouTube
video submissions regarding the Eurovision Song Contest, we discuss recent so-
ciolinguistic approaches and terminology (e.g. linguistic superdiversity, multi-,
pluri-, and polylingualism, and polylogues) that are attuned to the emergent and
complex phenomena visible in social media language contact zones. Following
analysis of YouTube comment elds, we discuss the applicability of the term ‘com-
munity’ as a framework for understanding forms of social and communicative
activity visible in these contexts. Aligning with the theme of this volume, we sug-
gest that the emergence of a virtual linguistic landscape from below is usefully un-
derstood as a process of ‘linguascaping’ (a neologism rst coined by Jaworski etal.
2003), a term that we extend and dene as ‘linguistic engagements that express,
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
propagate and oen contest ethno-linguistic ideologies. Linguascaping as applied
to YouTube comment elds, therefore, is meant to suggest an agentive process of
constructing and/or contesting possible ethno-linguistic identications and pow-
er relations through the use of semiotic resources (see Ivković 2012 for a discus-
sion). We intend a parallel between the discursive process of linguascaping and the
material process of landscaping (Ivković 2012). As landscaping is constrained by
the relative mutability of physical geographies, linguascaping is constrained by the
historical sedimentation of discursive and ideal dimensions of lived culture and
ideology (what ibault (2011) terms “second-order” dynamics, discussed below).
Just as landscaping is enabled by physical tools and embodied labor, linguascaping
is enabled by human creativity and the capacity to discursively transform (as well
as reproduce) understandings of the social and political world. Finally, linguascap-
ing as a metaphor connects virtual linguistic landscapes with the semiotic features
of its mediascape and cityscape homologues. We conclude the discussion section
by connecting the virtual linguistic landscape with the linguo-semiotic features of
its mediascape (e.g. TV) and cityscape (physical geographies) counterparts.
Literature review
. Sociolinguistics, superdiversity, ‘languages’ and media spaces
ere have been a number of recent moves within sociolinguistics that seek to
acknowledge more fully a changing world in which interpersonal, professional
and recreational life activities have come to involve intercultural and plurilingual
communication. Vertovec (2007) has characterized large metropolitan areas and
certain nation states (e.g. Great Britain) with the term ‘superdiversity’, a descrip-
tor intended to highlight and complexify the interplay of conventional notions of
diversity, such as nation state origin and ethnicity, with additional variables such
as dierentiated socioeconomic origins, legal status, labor market experiences
and levels of integration into local area resident and diasporic social spheres.
Building on this notion of superdiversity, sociolinguists such as Blommaert
and Rampton (2011, 4) suggest a need for a paradigm shi in the study of lan-
guage in society; one that moves from presumptions of “homogeneity, stability
and boundedness” and toward “mobility, mixing, political dynamics and historical
embedding” as central to a focus on languages and everyday communicative activ-
ity in most contemporary societies. In this vein, Blommaert (2010, 1) has argued
for a new sociolinguistic paradigm, a “critical sociolinguistics of globalization,
which deemphasizes expectations of stable linguistic norms and instead focus-
es on the physical and virtual mobility of populations and the resultant uidity
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 Steven L. orne and Dejan Ivković
and emergence of communicative actions. To understand more accurately many
late-modern contexts of communication, Blommaert advocates for new theoreti-
cal tools, stating that
is theory construction cannot be just another linguistic theory. It needs to be a
theory of language in society, or, more precisely, of changing language in a chang-
ing society … as the sociolinguistic side of a larger social system.
(Blommaert 2010, 2)
One of the implications of this theoretical shi involves moving away from terms
such as ‘multilingualism, where language is the central focus, and toward an un-
derstanding of communicative activity that is more accurately framed as ‘trans-
local’ in the sense that local concerns and global identications oen become
intertwined in complex and creative ways (Lepänen et al. 2009).
In common usage, ‘plurilingualism’ and ‘multilingualism’ are oen seen as
semantically equivalent terms, with the former associated specically with the
Council of Europes language policy.
At a descriptive level, both terms have
been critiqued in recent sociolinguistics literature as problematic ideological ab-
stractions as each suggests the notion of multiple discrete and stable linguistic
varieties rather than the mixing and hybridity that are oen evident in contempo-
rary communicative repertoires (e.g. Blommaert and Rampton 2011; Otsuji and
Pennycook 2010; Harissi, Otsuji, and Pennycook 2012). Acknowledging this cri-
tique but also needing a term to describe the use of multiple linguistic repertoires,
we follow a growing trend that denes ‘multilingualism’ as the presence of multi-
ple languages in society, and ‘plurilingualism’ as an individuals experience with,
and use of, multiple languages, sometimes in combination with one another (for
a discussion, see Jørgensen, Rindler-Schjerve, and Vetter 2012).
Terminology describing mixed language use, alternatively called ‘code-switch-
ing, is also becoming increasingly complex. For example, ‘translanguaging’ has
been proposed as a descriptor for bilingualism that does not observe diglossic
functional separation of the linguistic resources used into separate monolingual
idealizations of independent languages (see Blackledge and Creese 2010). Using
multiple semiotic resources from diverse linguistic varieties within and across
utterances is what García has more recently come to call ‘transglossia’ (2009),
while the term ‘polylingualism’ (e.g. Jørgensen 2008) refers to the intentional use
of multiple languages that may not typically be found in combination with one
another (i.e. not code-switching in the conventionalized sense of patterned and
systematic uses of more than one language within utterances). Recently, even the
putative relevance of the term ‘language’ has been strongly contested (e.g. Makoni
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
and Pennycook 2007; orne and Lantolf 2007) with the suggestion that ‘lan-
guage’ is the static reication of a process that is better described as communica-
tive activity; in essence, that ‘language’ in use is a dynamic system as opposed to
the conception of languages
as a set of internally consistent relations and patterns.
Challenges to the reication of languaging activity has, in fact, been present for
many decades; for example, in the writings of Vološinov:
e actual reality of language-speech is not the abstract system of linguistic
forms, not the isolated monologic utterance, and not the psychophysiological act
of its implementation, but the social event of verbal interaction implemented in an
utterance or utterances. (Voloshinov 1986, 94)
In more recent scholarship that unites processes of language use with socio-
cultural inventories of semiotic potential, ibault (2005, 123) has described
language as a “multi-modal contextualizing activity which is embedded in an
ecosocial semiotic environment and which integrates diverse space–time scales.
is approach contests what has been termed the ‘code approach’ to language as
an abstract system independent of human action (see Harris 1998; Kravchenko
2007; Linell 2009). By space-time scales, ibault is referring to an important
and oen unacknowledged ontological distinction between ‘rst-order languag-
ing’ and ‘second-order language, where rst-order languaging describes real-time
communicative activity between interlocutors that is irreducible to the ‘formal
abstracta’ that is the preoccupation of descriptive linguistics. Importantly, rst-
order languaging is constrained by “second-order patterns emanating from the
cultural dynamics of an entire population of interacting agents on longer, slower
cultural-historical timescales” (ibault 2011, 2). It is second-order patterns, or
perceptions of language as thing rather than process, that are normative, more
readily visible to human agents, and that inform language ideology and evaluative
judgment. As applied to the analysis of dialogic interaction, the implication is
that rst-order languaging is phenomenologically primary and that second-order
language constitutes historically sedimented semiotic patterns and lexicogram-
matical resources that constrain what is possible and that enable eective choices
within a given communicative encounter. At the level of expressed worldview, our
inclusion of the notion of ‘linguascaping’ is meant to convey the potential of com-
municative action (rst-order languaging) to shape discursive realities (primarily
a second-order phenomenon).
In relation to the digital contexts that are addressed in this study, the in-
ternet as a multilingual phenomenon has received signicant attention in part
because the internet constitutes a multiplicity of language contact zones that is
unprecedented in human history (Danet and Herring 2007; Paolillo 2007). Early
internet communication tools, accompanied more recently by social media, have
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 Steven L. orne and Dejan Ivković
facilitated an enormous increase in the volume of interpersonal communication
between known and unknown parties. Concurrently, many-to-many communi-
cation environments have continued to emerge and to ourish; examples include
online interest groups, media sharing sites, blogging and micro-blogging envi-
ronments, social media spaces and multiplayer games with their attendant online
information and strategy websites (orne and Fischer 2012). As settings for lan-
guage contact, digital communication media juxtapose and make publicly visible
communication from individuals that represent great diversity in terms of spatial
location, social positioning, language-culture background and combinations of
semiotic resources made relevant to the communicative actions at hand.
e Eurovision Song Contest is an example of a multilingual and multicultur-
al arena where fans and nationalisms come into contact and where linguistic and
ethnic identities are negotiated in public spaces. We focus on messages produced
in interactive digital media forums with an understanding that these sites are po-
rous and interpenetrate with views expressed in mainstream media and non-dig-
ital public venues. e discussion below examines language choice, code-mixing,
plurilingual communication patterns and communicative strategies employed
by YouTube commenters who generate monolingual and plurilingual polylogues
(Marcoccia 2004); i.e. multi-party online discussions between generally anony-
mous interlocutors that include message types arrayed along a continuum from
explicitly dialogic conversations to monologic one-to-many posts. In these spac-
es, as autonomous social actors (Shohamy 2006, 115), individuals of various lin-
guistic backgrounds produce and share bottom-up linguistic items (Ben-Rafael
2009), such as opinions and commentaries in their native or foreign languages.
Aer presenting a brief history of the Eurovision Song Contest and more general-
ly describing recent controversies focusing on language rules and linguistic prac-
tices, we turn to the analysis of plurilingual polylogues and code-mixing patterns
in YouTube users’ comments, with a view toward how these interactions evidence
patterns of group formation and identication.
Politics of language choice in the ESC
e Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), rst convened in 1956, has been present on
YouTube since the websites inception. In part because YouTube supports web lo-
calization, it has become a favored social networking platform for ESC fans to
share video content. e YouTube online forums associated with the ESC have a
large number of users from varied linguistic backgrounds who, because of their at-
tention to how songs are performed, are particularly sensitive to language- related
issues, such as the accent choices used in the performances and the language
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choice of the songs. As a “song contest on a political stage” (Rayko 2009) and
a locus of intensive language contact and contestation, the ESC reects multilin-
gualism, linguistic capital and power relations among Europes nations and their
languages (Baker 2008; Pajala 2007, 2011; Vuletić 2007).
To describe briey the broader ESC context and format, the winning song
is chosen by the TV audience and jury, and the jury members and TV audienc-
es cannot vote for songs representing their home nation. However, the ESC is
annually accused of ‘political’ or bloc voting; that is, the tendency for voters to
award more points to neighboring countries or to those that have similar cultural,
linguistic and/or religious characteristics (Yair 1995). Indeed, the list of countries
with predictable voting patterns is rather long, and includes the exchange of votes
between Greece and Cyprus, UK and Ireland, Romania and Moldova, Albania
and Macedonia, as well as amongst Scandinavians, former Yugoslavs and former
Soviets. Interestingly, transnational migration has come to form a sub-category
of bloc voting that may be termed ‘diaspora voting, which itself is related to the
issue of increasingly ‘superdiverse’ populations in nations that participate in the
Describing the geo-politics of the contests voting practices, a Euronews
commentator notes that:
To some people, the oen predictable nature of the voting process only adds to
the fun; for them it can be amusing to see the old alliances and rivalries still going
strong in the non-threatening arena of a song contest, like a rather camp Eu-
ro-pop microcosm of the complex geo-politics of Europe. Other viewers, though,
say they have had enough of the unfairness of the voting system. e predict-
ability of voting patterns and the lack of appreciation of the actual music have
completely discredited the contest, which should even be boycotted, some say.
Language is also a contentious issue in Eurovision that certainly added to the po-
litical dimension of uctuating language rules in the contests nearly ve-decade
history. e current rules state that a country may send an entry in any language.
However, a number of countries require performers to sing in the national lan-
guage. Participating countries may also send entries in two or more languages (e.g.
Ukraine in 2004, 2007; Poland in 2006; Estonia in 2008). When the Contest was
. As an example, Switzerland – a central European country with sizeable Serbian, Bosnian
and Croatian diasporic communities – regularly gives highest points to these Balkan countries.
As a result, Switzerland is in the same voting ‘bloc’ as Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia, the ‘Balkan bloc’, in order to mitigate the
eects of predictability.
., accessed
July 2, 2014.
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 Steven L. orne and Dejan Ivković
held in Belgrade in 2008, a number of songs were performed in more than one lan-
guage, including the Estonian entry, which was delivered in Serbian (the language
of the host country), with bits and pieces in German and Finnish (Verschik and
Hlavac 2009). Ironically, not a single lyric was performed in Estonian. e ocial
languages of the ESC are English and French, but each country has the option of
performing in a language of their choice, such as a major European language (e.g.
English, French, Russian or Italian) or a mix of two or more languages (Ukrainian
entry in 2004; Estonia in 2006).
Many ESC entries have multiple promotional versions in languages besides
that used in the main performance. A striking example is the 2008 Macedonian
entry, which had a main version in the Macedonian language but also versions in
Albanian (rst language of more than 20% of the country’s population), English,
Russian (lingua franca of the former Soviet countries, ten of which participated in
the competition), Serbian (language of the host country and, as Serbo- Croatian,
the lingua franca of former Yugoslavia) and Turkish, all of which catered to the
national audiences of the Balkans, former USSR and regional nation states. No-
table, however, was the lack of versions in other major EU languages, such as
French, German or Spanish. Multilingual song choices are likely motivated by the
hope of appealing to viewers’ national and ethnic sentiments.
European politics and a desire to elide communalistic tensions have produced
a number of creative ESC entries. Notable examples are the choice of imaginary
languages to represent Belgium in 2003 and 2008 as well as the strategic choice of
English to represent France in 2008. e choice of an imaginary language can be
viewed as an instance of intentional ‘code bivalency’ (Woolard 1998, 7) or ‘strate-
gic ambiguity’ (Heller 1988, 82) that Belgium, in particular, has used as a way to
mitigate nation-internal tensions between Dutch and French.
Woolard denes ‘code bivalency’ in bilingual discourses as an instance
whereby words or segments could belong to both codes. Here, avoidance of iden-
tiable languages adds another layer of semiotic meaning as not belonging to
either French- or Dutch- speaking Belgium, and is an example of re- semiotization
of linguistic resources with ambiguous or no referential meaning (on the re-
semiotization of heavy metal umlaut or röck dots, see Ivković, forthcoming). As
described by Peter Urban, a German ESCTV commenter, in a video posted on
YouTube, Belgiums choice to use an invented language is an attempt to neutralize
communalistic tensions (
Flamen und Wallonen haben sich ja immer gestritten, in welcher Sprache der
‘Grandprix’ Song sein sollte: Flämisch oder Französisch. Das Problem haben die
Belgier diesmal einfach gelöst: der Song ist in einer erfundenen Fantasiesprache.
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‘e Flemish and the Walloons have always fought over what language the song
for the “Eurovision” should be, Flemish or French. is time the Belgians solved
the problem in a simple manner: the song is in an invented fantasy language.
In another explicit discussion of language, in 2008, the choice of English to rep-
resent France was seen as important enough to be taken up in the French par-
liament and also was remarked upon by YouTube commenters, as in the posting
below (Ivković 2013, 16):
Une chanson en anglais pour représenter la France! Que veut-on donner de nous
comme image? Celle d’un pays conquis, colonisé, un pays qui a renoncé à son
identité? Notre langue nest pas qu’à nous, elle est présente sur les cinq continents!
Le pays principal de la francophonie donnant limage de labandon de sa langue?
Quelle honte!
A song in English to represent France! What kind of image are we trying to create
of ourselves? An image of a conquered, colonized country, which has renounced
its identity? Our language is not just ours, it is found on all ve continents! Is the
principal country of the francophone world sending the signal that it is abandon-
ing its language? How shameful!’
It is this backdrop of explicit discussion of language choice that establishes the
context for the examination of YouTube comments to follow.
Eurovision meets YouTube: Data and methods
. Corpus and data collection
YouTube discussion forums data used in this chapter were initially compiled for a
corpus-based analysis of attitudes about languages of the songs and accents of the
performers in the ESC (Ivković 2013). is specialized corpus was collected from
the commentaries surrounding four winning songs (from 2007 to 2010), repre-
senting Serbia, Russia, Norway and Germany, and three non-winning entries,
two representing Belgium with songs performed in invented (or ‘imaginary’) lan-
guages in 2003 and 2008, and one entry representing France that was performed
in English in 2008, each of which were briey described above. e comments
are mostly in English, with a considerable number of postings in French, Dutch,
German, Russian (both in Cyrillic and latinized Russian), Serbian/Croatian and
Polish, depending on the performance they are related to, the language used in
earlier comments, and the language of the perceived and/or intended audience.
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e corpus-based analysis revealed a large number of lemmas (the set of
dierent forms of words) denoting the topic of language, including the names
of particular languages, accent and pronunciation, but also lemmas concerning
ethnicity, so-called ‘bloc voting’, and sexual orientation. In the corpus of 769,846
tokens (strings of characters separated by space, including non-words), there are
more than 9000 words related to a geographic entity (e.g. France, Russia, Greece,
Turkey, country-countries), suggesting that a primary theme in the postings con-
cerns regional politics. e extracts below are drawn from this corpus to illustrate
engagement in multiple languages. Focusing particularly on the Russian sub-
corpus (167,547 tokens), we describe plurilingual polylogues in the context of
discussion of the politics of language and language of politics.
Plurilingual polylogues
Interaction on YouTube takes the form of video and text postings. e postings
are asynchronous, allowing registered users to read and post at their convenience,
and unregistered users, or ‘lurkers, to view the contents and commentaries. is
asynchronicity, however, can be disruptive for the sequential ow of conversa-
tion. e asynchronous mode allows a number of ‘conversation oors’ within a
single multi-party newsgroup discourse context. Building from earlier work by
Marcoccia (2004), we refer to these discourse settings as ‘polylogues.
ere are two types of postings according to the mode of delivery on You-
Tube: audio-visual and textual. Audio-visual postings are video les uploaded on
YouTube. Video uploads may be accompanied by subtitles in the language of the
video le or a translation in another language. e upload can be an initiating or
response video. Initiating videos have their own URL address and, functionally
speaking, create and instigate the possibility for video or textual responses and
Textual messages provide commentaries either on the posted video or re-
sponses to existing messages. Responses to existing textual commentaries are
indented one line below the message to which they directly refer, following the
structure of a typical newsgroup discussion thread. As in newsgroups, comments
can be posted on any message in the queue, not just the next in sequence. Addi-
tionally, there are the following participant roles: e video content ‘mediator
(the content author or person who uploads the initiating video to YouTube) and
text or video comment contributor are both visible actors. ‘Lurkers’ or ‘eavesdrop-
pers’ – that is, unregistered users who only view/read the content – appear only in
the numerical count of how many times a YouTube video has been played.
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
e video content mediators and commentary authors leave cues as to gen-
eral aspects of their identities. ese cues can be gleaned from the language
and content of the initiating video, name or nickname of the person who posts
a message, and commenters’ prole pages, which may contain biographical in-
formation. Secondary visual cues include the video channels the commenters
have subscribed to and the network of people with whom they have ties. Based
on these cues, the commenter needs to make the following decisions: First, de-
pending on ones linguistic repertoire and expected linguistic knowledge of the
addressee, one needs to determine in which language to respond. Second, one
needs to position the response as a primary comment or response to a comment,
signaling the scope of relevance.
Data analysis
Technically, the thread constituting Example (1) is the only true plurilingual poly-
logue presented here, having ve participants (commenters) and featuring com-
ments in four languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian). e other
three threads discussed here are potential polylogues but, as captured, strictly
speaking they do not have all the elements of plurilingualism and polylogic in-
teraction; the threads from Example (2) and (3) are bilingual (Polish/English
and Croatian/English) monologues, in which the same commenter uses two lan-
guages to communicate a one-to-many plea to multiple audiences. e thread
constituting Example (4) is a plurilingual (English/Polish/Serbian) dialogue in
that there are only two participants. All four threads, however, acknowledge the
relevance of bloc voting and politicization of the ESC along ethnolinguistic lines
that can be traced in these online spaces, including multi-party online threads, as
is shown in the polylogue from Example (1).
Quadrilingual polylogue: English [E], Spanish [S], Portuguese [P],
Russian [R]
In the quadrilingual polylogue below, Commenter A denes the following
multi-subject ‘oor’ in English: (a) the commenters disappointment at Portugals
placement; (b) Portugals song was still better than the UK entry; and (c) Russia
won thanks to the votes from the former USSR countries. Commenter B responds
to the rst topic and narrows it down to the voting practices between Portugal
and Spain, which then forms the subject matter for the remaining posts in this
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Note that all comments are tagged by a bracketed indication of the language
used (e.g. [E] = English). In instances where English is not used, the non-English
original text is placed in italics and is followed by an English translation within
single quotations.
Excerpt (1)
Commenter A
01 omg i cant beleive russia won im so deprested im portuguese and i knew portugal
wernt gona win but i beleived in dem all the way and we got 13th :S but yeh
better then united kingdom lol.. dis song from russia is so weird dat took
he tune from jlo song everything is you [E]
[All following posts are indented in the thread begun by commenter A]
Commenter B
02 Portugal got 12 points from Spain, dont know what youre saying.
e votes just bull**** anyway. is song ain’t even good, neither was his singing
seriously. [E]
Commenter C
03 Got 8 from spain. We gave Spain 10 points. [E]
Commenter B
04 Pq en España hay una enorme colonia rumana, y siempre
los 12 votos españoles van para ese pais (Romania). Pero los votos españoles
(y no rumanos) fueron todos para Portugal. [S]
‘Because in Spain there is a huge Romanian community, and the twelve
Spanish votes always go to that country (Romania). But all the Spanish votes
(but not Romanian) went to Portugal.’ [Translation from Spanish]
Commenter D
05 É verdade. Eu adoro a Roménia, já lá estive. Mas é verdade que todos os votos
espanhois vao para Portugal e não para a Romenia, tal como os portugueses vao
para Espanha e nao para a Ucrania. Nós é que temos muitos ucranianos. Eu votei
espanha. (P)
‘It’s true. I adore Romania, Ive been there. But the truth is that all the Spanish
votes go to Portugal and none to Romania as the Portuguese [votes] go
to Spain and none to Ukraine. We do have a lot of Ukrainians. I voted
for Spain.’ (Translation from Portuguese)
06 It’s true. I love Romania, Ive been there. But all spain votes go to portugal and not
to romaniam like the portuguese go to spain and not to ucraine. Weve got a lot of
ukraine people. I voted for Spain. [E]
Commenter B
07 u should vote for the song, not the country!!!!! [E]
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
Commenter B
08 And I voted. I loved Spains song, I voted for Spain. And for Denmark. And for
UK. [E]
Commenter E
09 PORTUGAL =))) [multiple languages]
Commenter F
10 And the vote is nothing more than geography. [E]
11 Rassija vijgrala tolko po tamu shto za nih golosovalji bivshiji sovetskije strani.
[R, latinized]
Russia has won only because the former USSR countries voted for them.’
(Translation from Russian)
Commenter A (lines 01–04) uses an informal register of English marked by
non-standard abbreviations (e.g. omg) and contractions (e.g. gona), extensive use
of lower case letters, texting style shorthand with links to hip hop music culture
(dem for them, dis for this), emoticons and graphical representations of discourse
markers (yeh). Elements of this style are mirrored by Commenter B (e.g. ain’t).
e participant posting pattern in these exchanges is A-B-C-B-D-B-B-E-F, and
the language posting pattern is as follows, by turns:
Commenter A: English [01] (informal register)
Commenter B: English [02] (informal register)
Commenter C: English [03]
Commenter B: Spanish [04]
Commenter D: Portuguese [05] the user then translated into standard English [06]
Commenter B: English [07] (informal register)
Commenter B: English (with a register shi to standard English) [08]
Commenter E: English/Spanish/Portuguese ambiguous use of ‘PORTUGAL’ [09]
Commenter F: English [10] and then Latinized Russian [11]
Commenter B switches from English (turn 02) to Spanish (turn 04) in two dif-
ferent posts, whereas Commenter D posts initially in Portuguese (turn 05) and
then provides an approximate translation in English (turn 06) within the same
posted message (a frequent practice we discuss below). With the exception of the
conjunction “but” (‘pero’ in Spanish and ‘mas’ in Portuguese), all other Portu-
guese words in this comment share cognates with standard Castilian (Spanish).
is linguistic similarity functionally supports an environment that in this case
builds upon dynamics of intercomprehension, where participants communicate
with one another using their own languages with the expectation that the gist of
the message will be understood.
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e topic of the posting is so-called ‘bloc voting’; that is, the exchange of votes
among countries from the same region, sharing similar cultures or historical an-
ities (Yair 1995). Specically, Commenter A expresses her or his intention to vote
for Spain, Portugal’s neighbor, while others discuss voting patterns across Europe,
which is evident in the frequencies of words denoting various European countries
(e.g. Russia [3 instances], Portugal [4 instances], Spain [6 instances], Romania
[2instances], UK [1 instance], Ukraine [2 instances], Denmark [1 instance], for-
mer USSR [1 instance]), as well as numerous instances of adjectives describing
the voting patterns in the contest (e.g. Spanish votes, Romanian colony/diaspora).
Commenter B intercepts the conversation with two consecutive posts in En-
glish, summarizing his or her own votes in turn 08. As shown, the use of English
contributes to the plurilingual polylogue involving the two Iberian, genetically
related, Romance languages of Spanish and Portuguese. Commenter Es second to
last post in the polylogue is an example of an unintentionally ambivalent language
choice (cf. Canada, Heller 1988, whereby the word “Portugal” (turn 09) may be
in any of the three languages: English, Portuguese or Spanish, appended with the
emoticon ‘=)))’, which indexes a positive attitude towards Portugal and its par-
ticipation in the ESC. e polylogue, as captured at the time of data collection,
ends with a bilingual English-Russian (latinized) posting. is nal contribution,
from Commenter F, was probably made by a second language speaker of Russian
and not a resident of Russia, which we infer based on the reference to Russians in
the third person rather than the use of the rst person plural pronoun. e lan-
guage shi from English to latinized Russian in the second part of this comment
extends the English statement that the voting patterns reect geography, but it
also pointedly dismisses Russias victory in the ESC by stating that “Russia has
won [the 2008 contest] only because the former USSR countries voted for them
[turn11]. e posting in Russian is also the least likely to be understood by other
commenters and perhaps signals an invitation for continuing the debate with oth-
er speakers of Russian as a language of wider communication.
Bloc voting is the theme in Excerpt (2), below. is comment signals the di-
vision between the former political-east-turned-political-west (e.g. Poland) and
Russia. In what may be labeled ‘YouTube activism, the commenter makes use of
his or her bilingual skills not to attract more votes for the Polish entry, but to dis-
courage support for Russia (turns 01, 11) and instead to vote for other countries
(turn 02). In Excerpt (2), the commenter makes use of what may be called ‘local-
ization’ (cf. website localization), a variant of participant accommodation, within
a single topic. is strategy of paraphrasing a translation of the same proposi-
tion in another language is used to address speakers/readers of dierent languag-
es. While Polish serves to address the ‘local’ Polish audience, English is used to
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
accommodate international readers in order to relay, and in this case to pointedly
intensify, a highly political message.
Excerpt (2). Polish [P], English [E]
01 Błagam nie głosujcie na Rosję! Może to i jest godna uwagi piosenka, zwłaszcza
że przy jej komponowaniu pomagał sam Timbaland. Ale możecie być pewni, że
Rosjanie nie będą głosować na Polskę. Już sam Dima wykazał się wczoraj ta
ignorancję i chamstwem, że odwrócił się do Isis plecami, kiedy chciała mu
pogratulować wejścia do nału:/ I wszystko jasne. Mam nadzieję, że jego
pewność siebie minie równie szybko jak się pojawiła.
01 ‘Please do not vote for Russia! Maybe it is a song worthy of attention, especially
because Timbaland helped compose it. But you can be sure that
Russians won’t vote for Poland. And yesterday Dima himself showed such
ignorance and disrespect, and he turned back to Isis, when she wanted to
congratulate him on progressing to the nals:/ And all is clear. I hope his
self-condence will disappear as fast as it appeared.
LET’S VOTE FOR OTHER COUNTRIES!!!’ (Translation from Polish)
People listen, I beg you for not voting for Dima Bilan on the nals! Maybe his
song is worth paying some attention on it,what is more, Timbaland helped Dima
to compose such song. But you can be sure that Russians will not vote for any of
your countries! Dima has shown how ignorant and dullard he is!! He turned back
to Isis Gee (POLAND) when she wanted to congratulate him and Dima went
away! ats all clear! Hope his self-condence will dissapear as soon as it
appeared! DON’T VOTE FOR RUSSIA!!!!!!!’ [E]
e commenter not only ‘translates’ the Polish text into English, but also mod-
ies it substantially in the shi from a Polish to an international audience. Key
elements are that “Ale możecie być pewni, że Rosjanie nie będą głosować na Polskę
‘But you can be sure that Russians wont vote for Poland’, transformed into English
as “But you can be sure that Russians will not vote for any of your countries!” and
and nally as “DON’T VOTE FOR RUSSIA!!!!!!!”. In addition, the Polish singer
is referenced by her full name, followed by the country’s name in brackets in the
English section of the posting (Isis Gee), as opposed to the Polish version stating
only the singer’s rst name, which indicates presumed knowledge on the part of
the Polish speaking audience. In the Polish language post, the commenter suggests
that the only worthy element of the Russian entry is that it is composed by Timbal-
and (an American producer and songwriter), but that this does not justify voting
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for Russia. In the English version, Timbalands assistance in the songwriting is
portrayed as a weakness (“… what is more, Timbaland helped Dima to compose
such song”). e commenter’s Polish language argument is based on the assump-
tion that Russians will not vote for Poland (written in Polish) and therefore Poles
should support other countries. In contrast, in the English corollary text pitched
toward an international audience, a stronger statement is made– “DON’T VOTE
FOR RUSSIA!!!”. ese dierences indicate considerable rhetorical sophistication
in terms of negotiating language choice in interface with modifying core argu-
ments to accommodate, and sway the opinions of, multiple audiences. In relat-
ed social media research, this resonates with what Androutsopolous (2015,188)
describes as “orientation to networked audiences” that involves the ability to
smoothly shi from language to language in … moment-to-moment orientations
to networked publics.
Another example of participant accommodation through manipulation of
dierent linguistic resources is presented in a bilingual English/Croatian post-
ing below. In Excerpt (3), English serves to address the global and non-Serbo-
Croatian speaking audience. In the same posting the commenter switches from
English to Croatian, signaling a “change of participant constellation” (Auer
1999,120). Unlike the commenter from Example (2), this commenter favors nei-
ther the political and geographical east (Russia) nor political west (EU, US) and
instead positions the Balkans as an independent middle entity between these two
macro- political groupings.
Excerpt (3). English [E], Croatian [C]
01 Well, in last 10 years Eurosong maybe is the show of everything else but quality
music, but despite that, still every year, one of just a few good and quality songs
of 25 of them on this countest, win. is really is this year’s best song, just like
“Molitva” was last year. [E]
srbi dajte se prestanite toliko rusima uvlaciti u dupe, vec ste naporni
boli njih “uvo” i za vas i za ostatak balkana, ko i ostatak europe…
vjeruj u se i u svoje kljuse…
sto vise ocekujemo od EU, Amerike, ili Rusije
to nam je samo razocaranje vece, a koristi za narod niotkud… [C]
And, Serbs, stop kissing Russias ass, you are so annoying.
ey couldn’t care less about you and the rest of the Balkans, and the rest of
Rely on yourselves and only yourselves.
e more we expect from EU, America, or Russia,
the more disappointed we become, and there is nothing of use to the people from
anyone’ (Translation from Croatian)
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
e theme of the rst few lines in English is the quality of the ESC, which, ac-
cording to the commenter, has lately deteriorated despite the fact that every year
there are several good songs, including the Russian and Serbian winning songs.
In the next few lines, a change of theme is accompanied by a shi to his/her native
Croatian. Interestingly, the only linguistic/orthographic clue that the commenter
is Croatian-speaking is the word for ‘Europe,’ which in Croatian is written both
as Europa (here europe[sic], in the Genitive case), and Evropa, in the Nominative
case. e latter is the only form permitted by the Serbian standard.
e commenter rst addresses Serb readers of the thread in the language that
is implicitly recognized as ‘a shared code-language’ (i.e. former Serbo-Croatian),
if no longer called by that name (that is, due to political divergence, Croatian and
Serbian are now identied with separate nomenclature). Without switching the
language, in the lines aer the break, the commenter switches from use of the
‘you’ to the ‘we’ pronoun. e ‘you-to-we’ alternation serves principally to deliver
information in the language of the presumed addressee (informational function);
secondly, the code alternation (depending on ones linguistic and cultural knowl-
edge), together with the choice of lexical resources, informs readers about the
ethnolinguistic prole of the commenter (informative function) (for a discussion
of the informational and informative functions in linguistic landscapes research,
see Ivković 2012, 114).
A linguistically contentious issue among Serbs and Croats as to whether
they speak one or the same language contrasts with the trilingual dialogue in
Excerpt(4), in which two speakers of genetically related (but far more distantly
related than are standard Serbian and Croatian) languages engage in ethnolin-
guistic identity construction mediated by English in its function of a lingua franca
(cf. the Spanish-Portuguese-English interaction from Excerpt (1)).
In Excerpt (4), speakers of Polish (Commenter A) and Serbian (Comment-
erB) engage in a vitriolic conversation without explicitly agreeing on the topic
and language of interaction since Polish and Serbian, although related, are not
mutually intelligible, unlike standard Serbian and Croatian, for example, where
mutual intelligibility is close to 100%.
. Without secondary clues and this lexical pointer (Europa/-e), another possibility would be
that the commenter is a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), who, as a Serb, would also use the form
E v r o p a’.
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Excerpt (4). Polish [P], English [E], Serbian [S]
Commenter A
01 Ale gówno no poprostu taki kicz że jak się tego słucha to niewiadomo czy płakac
czy nie. [P]
‘But shit well simply when you listen to such kitsch you dont know whether to cry
or not. (Translation from Polish)
Commenter B
02 Hey polish guy…pls write on english…or if you write on polish please do it
good…only I know that gowno=shit [E]
Commenter A
03 Bo co mi zrobisz?? będę pisać po polsku tak jak mi się podoba:):) gówno…gówno [P]
‘What will you do to me?? I will write in Polish if I want to:):) shit…shit…
(Translation from Polish)
Commenter B
04 gowno si ti
slepce jedan bedni, srpski jezik je najbolji.
I ja zborim [here, bolded for emphasis; in original it is italicized]
pisacu i ja kako mi se dopada [S]
‘you are shit …
you miserable loser, Serbian language is the best I talk
And will also write as I please, too’ (Translation from Serbian)
Commenter A discusses the quality of the winning song in the rst line. S/he
begins with the word for ‘shit’ in Polish (‘gówno’), which, written in Serbian as
govno, is easily understood by most speakers of South Slavic languages. Com-
menter B, picking up the meaning based on this orthographic similarity, attempts
to do two things: (1) impose a negative value judgment and attempt to regulate
quotidian uses of language of the sort described by Cameron (1995) as “verbal hy-
giene”; and (2) use this condemnation to shi the language of conversation to En-
glish. Commenter A, however, rejects the attempted linguistic sanction, refuses to
switch to English and rearms his or her right to expression by repeating “gówno,
gówno” (‘shit, shit’) in Polish. Insisting on his or her own ethnic and linguistic
superiority, Commenter B switches from English to Serbian, declaring that s/he
will also speak as s/he pleases (in his or her own language). In this exchange, the
symbolic function of language choice is amplied by the excessive use of emphat-
ic markers and obscenities, which are oen characteristic of YouTube comment
threads (Ivković 2013). is brief exchange shows that seemingly benign uses of
a common linguistic resource (‘gówno’) can serve as a spark for eliciting broader
prejudicial statements and nation-state chauvinism.
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Chapter 6. Multilingual Eurovision 
. Discussion: Linguascaping and discursive formations in digital spaces
e ESC exemplies both a convergence and transcendence of the linguistic
landscape (physical venue), the linguistic mediascape (televised ESC episodes),
and the virtual linguistic landscape visible in user-generated internet venues such
as YouTube. Describing media convergence (cf. Jenkins 2006) as “an umbrella
term that refers to the new textual practices, including technological synergies,
Kackman et al. (2010, 1) go on to note that “convergence destabilizes the notion
of a discrete object, and that “television texts overow onto interactive websites,
television content is available on myriad platforms, and television networks are
part of multi-media conglomerates. is view of media convergence points pri-
marily toward the multiple ways in which otherwise conventional broadcasted
events propagate across an array of representational media. e contribution of
this study has been to document some of the ways in which social media make
available venues for publicly contributing to phenomena such as the ESC. In
terms of scale, YouTube presents a massive, bottom-up dynamic of user-medi-
ated content, such as uploaded video segments of ESC broadcasts and the at-
tendant (largely) textual commentary generated by fans, critics and ‘trolls, the
latter dened as consistently negative and polemic commentary authors. We
have adapted and extended the term ‘polylogues’ (Marcoccia 2004) to refer to
the many-to-many asynchronous patterning that comprises YouTube comment
elds, with representative samples showing plurilingual multiparty engagement
(Excerpt (1)), bilingual monologues (Excerpts (2) and (3)) and plurilingual dia-
logue (Excerpt(4)). In YouTube comments elds, patterns of language choice and
related shis in rhetorical emphasis illustrate that many YouTube postings reect
and serve to maintain ethnic and linguistic bias at community and nation-state
levels. On a more positive note, these data also indicate sophisticated attunement
to diverse audiences and overt gestures of alignment and solidarity.
e various analyses of YouTube comments illustrate a number of points. A
rst observation is that the boundaries between the physical places where the
ESC event is convened – top-down mainstream media and commentary, and bot-
tom-up digital polylogues – are porous: discourses propagate from one space to
another. A second point is that political sentiments and forms of nationalism are
strongly evident in the opinions and aesthetic valuations voiced by commentary
authors. In essence, YouTube comment elds make visible everyday politics and
lived ideologies as they are produced, transformed and contested, a process that
we have described with the term ‘linguascaping’. We also note that language choice
and the use of multiple linguistic resources (e.g. paraphrase-and-translate) within
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a single commentary convey rhetorically nuanced arguments to dierent audi-
ences. As Shohamy (2006) has argued in application to other linguistic landscape
contexts, YouTube commentaries are indexical of both overt and covert agendas.
It is a common conception, oen warranted, that the development of the
Internet has made possible virtual online communities, dened as “groups of
people with common interests who interact through the Internet and the Web,
such as communities of transactions and communities of interest” (Vossen and
Hagemann 2010, 59). Fandom expressed through interactive discourse in various
social media venues shows many aspects of cohesion and group identication
(Gray et al. 2007), yet it is also the case that forms of participatory culture and new
media engagement stretch and sometimes problematize common denitions of
community’ and processes such as ‘dialogue. Academic elds such as anthropol-
ogy, sociology and linguistics have long struggled over how to theorize social for-
mations accurately, with the term ‘community’ appearing as a frequent descriptor.
Evidence for this can be seen in the sociolinguistics literature (e.g. speech and
discourse communities), in learning and management research (e.g. communi-
ties of practice), and in the language education sphere through the prominent
mentions of community in the U.S. National Standards and Common European
Framework of Reference. As described by orne (2011), a partial explanation for
the high frequency use of the term ‘community’ is that it is a “warmly persuasive
word” (Williams 1976, 76) that is evocative of collective interdependence (e.g. ‘the
global community’) and aspirations associated with support and mutual benet.
In its many uses in non-technical settings, denitions of community can in-
volve qualities that include shared language use and/or cultural practices, a sense
of membership in a group or enterprise, shared interests, a common spatial lo-
cation (nation state, city, neighborhood, birthplace) and past experience with
an institution (e.g. school alumni, military veterans) or event (the FIFA World
Cup, Ironman competitions, Burning Man festivals). Clearly, any of these di-
mensions of human experience have the potential to galvanize a sense of anity
and sharedness that would make quite reasonable a generalized use of the term
community’. In counterpoint, Latour (2005, 28) has specically critiqued positiv-
ist underpinnings to terms such as ‘community’, asserting that “it seems that the
most important decisions to make before becoming a social scientist is to decide
rst which ingredients are already there in society”. Other analysts have argued
that community is more usefully understood as a second-order phenomenon, one
that might obtain relevance following empirical analysis (Rampton 1998) or be an
outcome of durative collective action oriented toward a shared object or purpose
(Engeström 2006).
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In application to the case of YouTube commentaries, there is empirical evi-
dence for the applicability of descriptors such as fandom, nationalism, transna-
tional alliances, and alignments and contestations based on globally-circulating
and ever evolving aesthetic judgments. However, we take a generally pessimistic
view of the applicability of the term ‘community’ to the commentary discours-
es themselves. Nevertheless, we note that commentaries oen index “imagined
communities, in the sense of Anderson (2006), particularly in the form of ex-
pressed nationalist and communalist sentiment. In this vein, and returning to
the notion of linguascaping, as participants engage in an open network catalyzed
by shared interests, they also individually and collectively consume, display, con-
test and negotiate discursive realities. As Willis et al. (1990) have argued, popular
media is interesting not as a form of art or entertainment, but for the ways that
human capacities, through ‘symbolic work’ in interactional engagement, trans-
form media content into personally relevant meanings. Willis et al. describe the
products of symbolic work as the ongoing production of individual and collec-
tive notions of identity, a process that involves choice, judgment and the reuse
of existing symbolic resources, including common culture media, to aect and
potentially create lived-in culture.
is research has explored plurilingual interaction on YouTube as an illustration
of online ‘participatory culture’ (Jenkins 2006) constituted by a complex semi-
otic ecology that is comprised of top-down mainstream media and bottom-up
commentary (Ivković and Lotherington 2009). Transcending national and phys-
ical borders, speakers of dierent languages and dialects communicate and share
music and video content on social networking platforms. YouTube is a social
space, where “participants are ‘in relations, dependent on one another’s cognitive,
concrete, and emotional resources to realize their joint enterprise” (Schecter and
Lynch 2010, 219). In this case, the joint enterprise does not appear to be driven by
the collective interest in content sharing alone, but rather is compelled by desires
to disseminate and propagate beliefs, opinions and attitudes, an agentive discur-
sive process that we describe as linguascaping. An extension of this point is that
participants both appropriate and create internet communication tools by adapt-
ing to historically-developed patterns of use while they also continually reinvent
these discourse settings as a function of their ongoing experience (e.g. orne
2003, 2012; orne and Black 2007).
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Our analysis has attempted to show how dialogue, language contact and con-
ict play out at multiple levels, such as on the stage at the ESC during the actual
performances, among the audience and media critics, through participation in the
voting process, and in the associated online discussions in various digital venues.
In each of these contexts, contemporary nation-state politics and language ideol-
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is research presented descriptions of dialogue, alignment and divisive con-
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... On the one hand, language choices are often embedded in offline cultural affiliations and beliefs. For example, language choices can perform ethnolinguistic and historical affiliations that are expressed in the context of competition between different countries and blocks of countries, such as in the discussions on the Eurovision Song Contest on YouTube (Thorne and Ivković, 2015). On the other hand, language choices can create identities and subcultures that do not emerge in the offline realm. ...
Full-text available
During the last few decades, Muslim communities in China have experienced a religious revival in which belonging to a global Muslim community has been a central element. At the same time, in recent years, the State’s campaign of Sinicization of Islam (yisilan zhongguohua) has supported Chinese nationalism and targeted symbols of Islam that are alleged to distance the believers from patriotism. This study explores the capacity for texts, language, and visual choices to build and shape sociality and forms of devotion and to reflect social and political changes. The research examines visual posting on the multipurpose app Weixin (WeChat), providing insights into local forms of religiousness, self-representation, and aspirational identities of part of the Muslim community in Xining (Qinghai province, Northwest China).
... As defined in Chapter 2 , linguascapes are focused on the ways in which the current global cultural economy is understood in terms of non-isomorphic transnational movements of the social landscapes of people, imageries, technologies, money and ideas (i.e. ethno-, media-, techno-, finance-and ideoscapes) to demonstrate the various ways that linguistic objects move across boundaries to make meaning ( Thorne and Ivković, 2015 ). 'Linguascapes' are understood through alternative discursive roles of language, investigating meanings through the 'world of scapes'-the embodiment, flow and location of varied linguistic and cultural meaning in the complexity of their relations. ...
... Shanghai is semioscaped, that is to say semiotically constructed as a global city amenable to sociocultural and political conditions. Undoubtedly, by semioscaping, the power of language and other semiotic means in the dynamic process of formation of ontologiessemiotic elements and practices that mediate social interactions are highlighted (Thorne & Ivković, 2015). ...
Full-text available
The identity of a city matters in a global age. This article explores the discursive construction of the global city’s identity in relation to semiotic landscape, using the construction of Shanghai as a global city as a case study. In this increasingly globalising world, Shanghai authorities have recently demonstrated the desire to establish itself as a global city. Under the assumption of city agency in the semiotic practice of public signage, the signs photographed on site at Pudong International Airport of Shanghai were analysed from a critical perspective of multimodal discourse analysis, focusing on identity building for unique selling propositions. Questions addressed include what the identity of the global city looks like in Shanghai and how Shanghai is semioscaped as a global city and thereby its ethos implicitly represented. The findings suggest both global convergences and local particularities in the semioscaping of Shanghai as a global city. It argues that this way of identity building is attributable to the negotiation and contestation of power subject to the social norms, ideologies of a specific city.
... As defined in Chapter 2 , linguascapes are focused on the ways in which the current global cultural economy is understood in terms of non-isomorphic transnational movements of the social landscapes of people, imageries, technologies, money and ideas (i.e. ethno-, media-, techno-, finance-and ideoscapes) to demonstrate the various ways that linguistic objects move across boundaries to make meaning ( Thorne and Ivković, 2015 ). 'Linguascapes' are understood through alternative discursive roles of language, investigating meanings through the 'world of scapes'-the embodiment, flow and location of varied linguistic and cultural meaning in the complexity of their relations. ...
... As defined in Chapter 2 , linguascapes are focused on the ways in which the current global cultural economy is understood in terms of non-isomorphic transnational movements of the social landscapes of people, imageries, technologies, money and ideas (i.e. ethno-, media-, techno-, finance-and ideoscapes) to demonstrate the various ways that linguistic objects move across boundaries to make meaning ( Thorne and Ivković, 2015 ). 'Linguascapes' are understood through alternative discursive roles of language, investigating meanings through the 'world of scapes'-the embodiment, flow and location of varied linguistic and cultural meaning in the complexity of their relations. ...
... Other researchers have also investigated the VLL of online content created at the micro-level. For instance, Thorne and Ivković (2015) analyzed the comments made by YouTube users on the Eurovision Song Contest. The researched sample engaged in a process that the authors refer to as 'linguascaping' (i.e. the construction of a VLL, where opinions, beliefs, and ideologies are discussed). ...
Full-text available
Unlike physical linguistic landscapes, virtual linguistic landscapes (VLL) target speakers who are not confined to a geographical area. Hence, a linguistic landscape created in cyberspace is expected to be multilingual, not English monolingual, regardless of the geographical backgrounds of its creators. Yet, different entrepeneurs may have diverging linguistic preferences when creating a VLL. Hence, the current paper provides, to the best of the writer's knowledge, a first report on the linguistic choices of Arabic-speaking enterpreneurs in a VLL. The study explores the linguistic choices of 400 randomly selected businesses of Saudi entrepreneurs, listed on a local business website (Maroof). Data from three fields, the business name, logo, and description, were classified as either Arabic monolingual, English monolingual, or multilingual. The multilingual signs were further classified following Reh (2004): duplicating, complementary, fragmentary, and overlapping. The results show that the polled sample had varying preferences depending on the genre of the text. Business names were mostly duplicating, while business logos were mostly English monolingual and business descriptions were predominantly written in Arabic only. Since the data showed a great deal of inconsistency across different text genres, the results call for more systematic analyses of VLLs that pay more attention to the genre of the text rather than to the linguistic backgrounds of those who created these landscapes.
... In the literature, the term linguascape is used either to describe spaces of linguistic fusion in various social contexts, such as linguistic ethnoscapes and ideoscapes (Dovchin, 2017;) or as a common denominator for different communicative embodiments and media, including physical spaces (Ivković, 2012;Thorne and Ivković, 2015). ...
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This magazine is the result of the fieldwork that graduate students at OISE, enrolled in my Language and Literacies Education in Multilingual Contexts , conducted in different areas of Toronto, with the goal to investigate the tokens of linguistic and cultural presence of eight ethno-linguistic groups: the Arabs, Jews, Chinese, Irish, French and la Francophonie, Russians, Ethiopians and Koreans. Framed as a collection of studies of linguascaping, which is meant to describe the act of exploring and experiencing urban spaces and places of varied linguistic and cultural complexity through mindful observation of one’s immediate surroundings, the first volume presents eight sets of students' accounts based on extensive narratives of their experiences of their purposeful psychogeographic explorations of Toronto. The magazine includes the photos they took and the artwork they created throughout the course, in support of the content teaching and the pedagogical objectives set by the course requirements. The magazine is an application of my theoretical, conceptual and empirical work and teaching practice for the past five years at the University of Toronto and York University in the following graduate and undergraduate courses: Language and Diversity: The Multilingual City, Multilingual Education, Language and Cosmopolis: Theory and Method, and Language and Literacies Education in Multilingual Contexts. Focusing on different aspects of the linguascaping inquiry, I incorporated the Linguascaping Toronto project in all of them. The linguascaping concept was introduced in my doctoral dissertation (2012), further elaborated in Thorne and Ivković (2015) in the context of online interaction, and especially in Ivković, Cupial, Arfin and Ceccato (2019). The last study elaborated on the philosophical underpinnings of the concept and method, encored in the philosophy of phenomenology and, specifically, in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, a qualitative research method. The article also introduced the newly minted linguascaping protocol, methodology, data collection strategy and analytical toolkit, as implemented in this magazine. The production of the magazine was funded by the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. The magazine was presented at the Linguascaping Toronto event at OISE University of Toronto, on April 15, 2019. Dejan Ivković, PhD In Toronto, April 26, 2019
... The MSC-focused theme is inspired by the existing festival of European popular music, The Eurovision Song Contest, which originated in 1956. Eurovision is a multinational, multilingual and multicultural regional event featuring most European countries, represented with songs in various languages (Ivković 2013;Motschenbacher 2016; Thorne and Ivković 2015). In the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Lisbon, there were forty-three songs representing their respective countries. ...
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The paper documents the final project in an undergraduate seminar on multilingualism at the University of Toronto from a pedagogical perspective. The multimodal and multimedia project – centered on the idea of a fictitious festival of popular music, the Mondovision Song Contest – uses the genre of pseudo-documentary as a channel for collaborative and experiential learning. The students get engaged in multiple roles: script writer, graphic designer, film editor, actor/actress, and dancer, to mention a few. The Mondovision project serves as a medium to not only master subject matter content that focuses on multilingualism across continents, but also gives the students an opportunity to develop interpersonal and collaboration skills and to acquire multimedia and multimodal literacies. The paper provides both student and instructor perspectives on the experience, focusing on their respective roles and exemplifying what is here referred to as affirmative pedagogy of multilingualism.
... As defined in Chapter 2 , linguascapes are focused on the ways in which the current global cultural economy is understood in terms of non-isomorphic transnational movements of the social landscapes of people, imageries, technologies, money and ideas (i.e. ethno-, media-, techno-, finance-and ideoscapes) to demonstrate the various ways that linguistic objects move across boundaries to make meaning ( Thorne and Ivković, 2015 ). 'Linguascapes' are understood through alternative discursive roles of language, investigating meanings through the 'world of scapes'-the embodiment, flow and location of varied linguistic and cultural meaning in the complexity of their relations. ...
Full-text available
The title seeks to show how people are embedded culturally, socially and linguistically in a certain peripheral geographical location, yet are also able to roam widely in their use and takeup of a variety of linguistic and cultural resources. Drawing on data examples obtained from ethnographic fieldwork trips in Mongolia, a country located geographically, politically and economically on the Asian periphery, this book presents an example of how peripheral contexts should be seen as crucial sites for understanding the current sociolinguistics of globalization. Dovchin brings together several themes of wide contemporary interest, including sociolinguistic diversity in the context of popular culture and media in a globalized world (with a particular focus on popular music), and transnational flows of linguistic and cultural resources, to argue that the role of English and other languages in the local language practices of young musicians in Mongolia should be understood as "linguascapes." This notion of linguascapes adds new levels of analysis to common approaches to sociolinguistics of globalization, offering researchers new complex perspectives of linguistic diversity in the increasingly globalized world.
Human language has changed in the age of globalization: no longer tied to stable and resident communities, it moves across the globe, and it changes in the process. The world has become a complex 'web' of villages, towns, neighbourhoods and settlements connected by material and symbolic ties in often unpredictable ways. This phenomenon requires us to revise our understanding of linguistic communication. In The Sociolinguistics of Globalization Jan Blommaert constructs a theory of changing language in a changing society, reconsidering locality, repertoires, competence, history and sociolinguistic inequality. • There is great interest in the issue of globalization and this book will appeal to scholars and students in linguistics, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and anthropology • Richly illustrated with examples from around the globe • Presents a profound revision of sociolinguistic work in the area of linguistic communication
The aim of this chapter1 is to present an empirical study of one particular point in the linguistic landscape of a peripheral tourist town on the south-western seaboard of Ireland, Dingle. The particular point in question is a wall located in one of the town’s main streets, where a particular language ideological debate is present. The debate, referred to herein as the Dingle naming debate, centres around a controversy arising due to a English-Irish name to a monolingual Irish version, An Daingean. Through an analysis of the multimodal signs present on the Dingle Wall, two important points of discussion are brought to the fore. Firstly, it is clear that the linguistic landscape is an important space for such ideological issues to be presented and debated, particularly when one considers the linguistic landscape as a component of the ecology of language (cf. Hult, 2003; Shohamy, 2006) or a symbolic construction of social space that allows us to determine the functions and values of linguistic resources. Secondly, the Dingle Wall offers a powerful vehicle to uncover the ideologies that are at play in this peripheral community. Thus, by drawing on the recent work of Leeman and Modan (2009) who view the linguistic landscape as an ideologically charged socially constructed representation of place, this chapter seeks to further advance the qualitative applications of linguistic landscape research.
Language as a Local Practice addresses the questions of language, locality and practice as a way of moving forward in our understanding of how language operates as an integrated social and spatial activity. By taking each of these three elements - language, locality and practice - and exploring how they relate to each other, Language as a Local Practice opens up new ways of thinking about language. It questions assumptions about languages as systems or as countable entities, and suggests instead that language emerges from the activities it performs. To look at language as a practice is to view language as an activity rather than a structure, as something we do rather than a system we draw on, as a material part of social and cultural life rather than an abstract entity. Language as a Local Practice draws on a variety of contexts of language use, from bank machines to postcards, Indian newspaper articles to fish-naming in the Philippines, urban graffiti to mission statements, suggesting that rather than thinking in terms of language use in context, we need to consider how language, space and place are related, how language creates the contexts where it is used, how languages are the products of socially located activities and how they are part of the action. Language as a Local Practice will be of interest to students on advanced undergraduate and post graduate courses in Applied Linguistics, Language Education, TESOL, Literacy and Cultural Studies.
In Verbal Hygiene, Deborah Cameron takes a serious look at popular attitudes towards language and examines the practices by which people attempt to regulate its use. Instead of dismissing the practice of 'verbal hygiene', as a misguided and pernicious exercise, she argues that popular discourse about language values - good and bad, right and wrong - serves an important function for those engaged in it. A series of case studies deal with specific examples of verbal hygiene: the regulation of 'style' by editors, the teaching of English grammar in schools, the movements for and against so-called 'politically correct' language and the advice given to women on how they can speak more effectively. This Routledge Linguistics Classic includes a new foreword which looks at how the issues covered in the case studies have developed over time and a new afterword which discusses new concerns which have emerged in the last 15 years, from the regimentation of language in the workplace to panics about immigration and terrorism, which are expressed in linguistic terms. Addressed to linguists, to professional language-users of all kinds, and to anyone interested in language and culture, Verbal Hygiene calls for legitimate concerns about language and value to be discussed, by experts and lay-speakers alike, in a rational and critical spirit.
This article explores the linguistic landscape (LL) of a tourist town named Dingle located in the Southwest of Ireland. Building on recent theorizing in LL studies, where a discourse-analytical approach to LL data is promoted, the study uncovers a number of contesting language ideologies that circulate in the LL of Dingle. The contest involves two key actors, namely the State and the local community, who promote a number of discourse frames that show contesting language ideologies. On the one hand the State promotes an Andersonesque (Anderson, 1983) modernist ideology of ‘one Nation one language’, where Dingle is a key space where such an ideology can be safeguarded. While, on the other hand, local people promote a postmodernist ideology of multilingualism, in which the value of the Irish language is part of a wider bi/multilingual repertoire. This suggests that the LL can be viewed as a dynamic space that is significant in indexing and performing language ideologies that are continually being contested and renegotiated.
Linguistic diversity on the Internet is often said to be increasing, particularly by marketing research groups seeking to identify global trends in Internet business. This chapter addresses how well such statements reflect the reality of global linguistic diversity and online multilingualism, by applying a statistical index of diversity based on the notion of entropy. A comparison of the indexes for the marketing data and for global and regional demographics, as reported in the Ethnologue, shows that marketers' statements both overstate Internet linguistic diversity and underestimate global linguistic diversity. Internet language diversity is similar to that seen in a typical South East Asian country, and is hundreds of times less than global linguistic diversity. Moreover, Internet resources are concentrated in the US and Europe, where linguistic diversity is very low. Indications are that Internet linguistic diversity is stabilizing at this modest level, rather than increasing, as has been previously suggested.
Policies concerning language use are increasingly tested in an age of frequent migration and cultural synthesis. With conflicting factors and changing political climates influencing the policy-makers, Elana Shohamy considers the effects that these policies have on the real people involved. Using examples from the US and UK, she shows how language policies are promoted and imposed, overtly and covertly, across different countries and in different contexts. Concluding with arguments for a more democratic and open approach to language policy and planning, the final note is one of optimism, suggesting strategies for resistance to language attrition and ways to protect the linguistic rights of groups and individuals.