Mapping the Contours of Language Used on Social Media

Prof. Lata Dubey

Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi- 221005, India

Keywords: social media, linguistic analysis, Web 2.0, neologisms, online communication, cognitive orality, linguistic economy, context collapse


This paper seeks to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the language utilized on contemporary social media platforms. The exponential growth of these platforms is closely intertwined with advancements in web technologies, particularly those heralded by the advent of Web 2.0. This evolution has facilitated a transformative impact on the English language, as observed through the widespread adoption of neologisms, abbreviations, acronyms, numeronyms, logograms, and emoticons. The study will focus on the linguistic practices evident on platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Flickr, YouTube, and in user generated content on review sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon. The unique nature of online language can be attributed to several key factors. Cognitive orality refers to the way online communication mimics spoken language, despite being text-based. The semiotics of compensation highlights how users employ visual and textual elements to convey meaning and emotion that might otherwise be expressed through non-verbal cues in face-to-face interactions. Linguistic economy describes the tendency towards brevity and efficiency in online communication, often resulting in the use of shorthand and symbols. The economy of attention emphasizes the competitive nature of online spaces, where users must capture and maintain the attention of their audience in an environment saturated with information. Context collapse refers to the blending of multiple social contexts into a single online space, requiring users to navigate and adapt their language to diverse audiences simultaneously. 


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