English on the internet and a ‘post-varieties’ approach to language

Seargeant, Philip and Tagg, Caroline (2011). English on the internet and a ‘post-varieties’ approach to language. World Englishes, 30(4) pp. 496–514.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2011.01730.x

Abstract

This article examines the use of English in computer-mediated discourse, and considers the extent to which the traditional varieties-based approach to the study of global English can provide adequate analytic tools for describing the actuality of communicative encounters conducted on the Internet. Starting from the contention that languages as discrete entities are a problematic sociolinguistic category, the article addresses the question of how the study of global English may be refined to accommodate the type of English-related communicative phenomena found in many online encounters. Drawing upon examples of communication between Thai speakers via social networking and instant messaging services, the article outlines the complexity of English-related forms in this genre of online interaction, and considers the metatheoretical questions this complexity poses for the discipline of world Englishes in terms of how best to describe and categorise such phenomena.

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