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LINGUIST List 24.2922

Thu Jul 18 2013

Diss: Applied Ling/ Socioling: Lenihan: 'The Interaction of Language Policy, Minority Languages and New Media: A study of the Facebook translations application'

Editor for this issue: Rebekah McClure <rebekahlinguistlist.org>

Date: 15-Jul-2013
From: Aoife Lenihan <aoife.lenihanul.ie>
Subject: Applied Ling/ Socioling: Lenihan: 'The Interaction of Language Policy, Minority Languages and New Media: A study of the Facebook translations application'
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Institution: University of Limerick
Program: PhD Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Aoife Lenihan

Dissertation Title: The Interaction of Language Policy, Minority Languages and New Media - A Study of the Facebook Translations Application

Dissertation URL: http://academia.edu/2470294/The_Interaction_of_Language_Policy_Minority_Lan

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Dissertation Director:
Helen Kelly-Holmes

Dissertation Abstract:

The site of this research is new media, primarily the WWW. Language policy
has traditionally been seen as the work of governments and their institutions
and not related to domains such as Web 2.0. The primary research question
of this thesis is to consider: what impact do new media have on language
policy, in particular with regard to minority languages? It focuses on both the
‘top-down’ language policy and the increasingly ‘bottom-up’ language
practices in new media. It is situated within the field of ‘new media
sociolinguistics’ and aspires to move the focus of this area from the issue of
linguistic diversity to the issue of language policy. What differentiates it from
previous work is its attempt to link practice on the WWW with language
policy. The method of investigation is virtual ethnography, which involves
looking at computer-mediated communication (CMC) in online networks and
communities, analysing the language content and observing the online
interactions at the level of the users. It is used here to observe and
investigate the de facto language policies on Facebook. It was the potential
use of the community driven Facebook Translations app as a mechanism of
language policy by ‘bottom-up’ interests, which first drew the researcher’s
attention. In terms of language policy, Facebook, the Irish language
community and their members act in both a ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ sense
depending on the context of the situation, and thus the current research
demonstrates that the assumed dichotomy of ‘bottom-up’ forces opposed to
‘top-down’ forces is not always in evidence. It conceptualises language policy
as a process, ongoing and fluid, developed discursively and via the practices
of commercial entities and language speakers. Furthermore, it finds that
language ideologies play a primary role in language policy processes and
considers if the future of language policy will be driven by ‘produsers’ (Bruns,

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