Ways of Presentation Linguistic Identity in the Virtual Discourse

 © The Editorial Team of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 29, 2014, pp. 132-138

Ways of Presentation Linguistic Identity in  the Virtual Discourse

Alina Guseva

Article first published online: October 10, 2014 


Additional information

 Author Information: 

Alina S. Guseva, Post-Graduate Student of Department of General Linguistics and History of Language (specialty 10.02.15 "General Linguistics") in Donetsk National University. Correspondence: alyna201073@gmail.com

Citation: 
Guseva, A. Ways of Presentation Linguistic Identity in  the Virtual Discourse [Text] / A. Guseva // Linguistic Studies collection of scientific papers / Donetsk National University Ed. by A. P. Zahnitko. – Donetsk : DonNU, 2014. – Vol. 29. – Pp. 132-138. – ISBN 966-7277-88-7

Publication History:
Volume first published online: October 10, 2014

Article received: 12 September 2013, accepted: February 20, 2014 and first published online: October 10, 2014

Annotation.

Peculiarities of language usage in the internet are analyzed. Nicknames used by Ukrainians in their own blogs are described. The key methods of classification based on linguistic features are considered. The necessity of integrated approach to the consideration of names used to identification and self-presentation is proved.

Keywords: antroponimical formula, code switching, computer-mediated communication, language shared code, netspeak, nickname.


Abstract.

WAYS OF PRESENTATION LINGUISTIC IDENTITY IN THE VIRTUAL DISCOURSE

Alina Guseva

Department of General Linguistics and History of Language, Donetsk National University, Donetsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine

 

Available 12 September 2013.

 

Abstract

Relevance

The virtual discourse expanded boundaries of proper nouns’ functioning. Modern language and speech tendencies appear exactly in the internet communications. Therefore, investigation of the functioning of proper nouns in the Internet is the urgent task of onomastics for today. New communicative space affects the nature and methods of presentation of the linguistic identity. The proper noun as a user characteristic is onomastic unit. Relevance of the study is determined by the specifics of the environment in which the name is functioned. The internet-name can reflect some cognitive, psychological and social aspects linguistic identity.

Purpose

The purpose of the analysis is to review and detail the ways of the presentation of virtual linguistic identity.

Tasks

The purpose raises the following tasks: 1) analysis of the problem of the various languages ​​on the internet and the language code switching; 2) generalization of specific language features in the internet, compared with the types of spoken and written speech; 3) distinction of the approaches to classification nicknames as specific internet-names of users.

Novelty

The novelty of the analysis is determined by a comprehensive approach to the disclosure of ways of a person nomination in the virtual discourse, consideration and combination of different classification approaches in the development of system nicknames’ analysis.

Theoretical value

The theoretical value of the study is reasoned with analysis different scientists’ approaches; identifying the notions of language shared code and codeswitching; definition of specific netspeak and user’s name. Description of phenomena of virtual discourse can be extrapolated to another language material due to the universality particular events that are described.

Practical value

The practical value of the study is determined by its ability to use theoretical principles in the development of lectures about modern transformation and modification of onyms in the new (virtual) environment. And practical results can be used in the creation of computer databases, as well as in the development of internet-terminological dictionaries.

Conclusion

Analysis of different approaches to classification nicknames shows the imperfection each of them. It emphasizes the need for systematic consideration of these onomastic units based on communicative pragmatic and psycholinguistic aspects.

Perspective

A large database gives possibilities for further study on classification nicknames and expanding the criteria for their detailed specifications. Analysis of nicknames helps to understand a specific of the virtual linguistic identity and particularities of its presentation.

 

Research highlights

► Peculiarities of language usage on the internet are analyzed. ► Nicknames used by Ukrainians in their own blogs are described. ► The key methods of classification based on linguistic features are considered. ► The necessity of integrated approach to the consideration of names used to identification and self-presentation is proved.

Keywords: antroponimical formula, code switching, computer-mediated communication, netspeak, nickname, shared code.

 

References

Arutjunova, N. D. (1990). Diskurs, 136-137. Lingvisticheskij jenciklopedicheskij slovar'. Moskva: Sovetskaja jenciklopedija.

Asmus, N. G. (2005). Lingvisticheskie osobennosti virtual'nogo kommunikativnogo prostranstva. Diss. … kand. filol. nauk. Cheljabinsk.

Ahrenova, N. A. (2009). Lingvisticheskie osobennosti setevyh imen. Vestnik Cheljabinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 34 (172). Filologija. Iskusstvovedenie, 36, 5-10. Cheljabinsk.

Balkunova, A. S. (2012). Rol' setevogo imeni (niknejma) vo vzaimodejstvii sub"ektov virtual'noj kommunikacii. Avtoref. diss. … kand. filol. nauk. Nizhnevartovsk: Nizhnevartovskij gosudarstvennyj gumanitarnyj universitet.

Vinogradova, T. Ju. (2004). Specifika obshhenija v internete, 63-67. Russkaja i sopostavitel'naja filologija: Lingvokul'turologicheskij aspekt. Kazan'.

Vorkachev, S. G. (2001). Lingvokul'turologija, jazykovaja lichnost', koncept: stanovlenie antropocentricheskoj paradigmy v jazykoznanii. Filologicheskie nauki. 1, 64-72.

Ermolovich, D. I. (2001). Imena sobstvennye na styke jazykov i kul'tur. R. Valent. Moskva.

Lutovinova, O. V. (2007). Sovremennyj virtual'nyj kreatiff: o nekotoryh osobennostjah jazyka Runeta. Trudy i materialy III Mezhdunar. kongressa "Russkij jazyk: istoricheskie sud'by i sovremennost'", 394-395. Moskva.

Pavlenko, N. O. (2005). Osnovni pidkhody ta metody doslidzhennya dyskursu. Visnyk Zhytomyrs'koho derzhavnoho universytetu imeni Ivana Franka. Zhytomyr, 22, 126-128

Khodorenko, H. V. (2006). Naymenuvannya osib u rosiys'komovniy internet-komunikatsiyi: strukturnyy i semantychnyy aspekty. Avtoref. dys. ... k. filol. n. Dnipropetrovs'k.

Jaroshenko, N. A. (2009). Leksiko-grammaticheskie innovacii v sovremennyh slavjanskih jazykah. Dnepropetrovsk: "Porogi".

Block, D. (2004). Globalization, Transnational Communication and the Internet. International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS), 6, 1, 22-37; E-portal: www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol6/issue1/art2.

Crystal, D. (2004). Language and the Internet. Cambridge University Press.

Kelly-Holmes, H. (2004). An analysis of the language repertoires of students in higher education and their language choices on the internet (Ukraine, Poland, Macedonia, Italy, France, Tanzania, Oman and Indonesia. International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS), 6, 1, 52-75; E-portal: www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol6/issue1/art3

Millard, W. B. (2007). I flamed Freud: a case study in teletextual incendiarism, 145-159. Internet culture. David Porter (ed.). New York: Routledge.

Scheidt, L. A. (2001). Avatars and Nicknames in Adolescent Chat Spaces. Gender and Computerization, Spring 2001. E-portal:

http://loisscheidt.com/working_papers_archive/Avatars_and_Nicknames.pdf

 

Sources and Abbreviations

Blogs of Ukrainians. E-portal: http://blog.i.ua/.


Article.

­Alina Guseva

УДК 81373.232

WAYS OF PRESENTATION LINGUISTIC IDENTITY IN THE VIRTUAL DISCOURSE

 

Peculiarities of language usage in the internet are analyzed. Nicknames used by Ukrainians in their own blogs are described. The key methods of classification based on linguistic features are considered. The necessity of integrated approach to the consideration of names used to identification and self-presentation is proved.

Keywords: antroponimical formula, code switching, computer-mediated communication, language shared code, netspeak, nickname.

 

The boundaries of functioning of the proper nouns are constantly expanding, as evidenced by today’s realities. Active implementation of the internet technologies in everyday life has led to the formation of a separate virtual discourse. It should be noted that we understand discourse as "language of life", text that "immersed in the life" [Арутюнова 1990: 136]. A discourse is "the focus of language and speech actions, socio-cultural and pragmatic, cognitive and psychological factors... interweaving interactions of agents communication language" [Павленко 2005: 2]. Virtual discourse is an environment in which modern language is developing rapidly. Internet is the widest communicative space in which its functioning is nothing stops there. Research of virtual discourse today is the actual linguistic problems [Асмус 2005; Виноградова 2004; Лутовинова 2007; Ходоренко 2006; Ярошенко 2009; Block 2004; Crystal 2004]. Modern language and speech tendencies appear exactly in the internet communications. Therefore, investigation of the functioning of proper nouns in the internet is the urgent task of modern onomastics.

Purpose of research is to review the ways of presentation of virtual linguistic identity. Purpose is realized by performing the following tasks: 1) analysis of the problem of the various languages in the internet and the language code switching; 2) generalization of specific language features in the internet, compared with the types of spoken and written speech; 3) distinction of the approaches to classification nicknames as specific internet-names of users. The material of research is database on 396 nicknames that are functioned in the internet-portal: http://blog.i.ua/.

The internet as the major example of new electronic information and communication technologies, in fact, affects patterns of the language usage in many aspects. On the one hand, it seems to support the trends of linguistic standardization which accompany the more general processes of globalization, for example, the spread of English as a lingua franca of the Internet. On the other hand, the internet may actually support the maintenance of the local minority languages in situations, where access to national spheres of communication is restricted and conventional resources for storing multilingual information are scarce. D. Block shows that there is little consensus on the definition of globalization and no agreement at all on whether it is a beneficial or malevolent force in the world [Block 2004]. Despite a variety of views, all commentators agree that globalization is characterized by unprecedented flows of information, exchanges among different groups and networks that transcend the local and national. As D. Crystal said, "there is a widely held intuition that some sort of Netspeak exists" [Crystal 2004: 18] – a type of language displaying features that are unique to the internet, and encountered in all the above situations, arising out of its character as a medium which is electronic, global, and interactive. The distinct between purposes and procedures involved in e-mailing, chatgroups, virtual worlds, and the Web makes for significant differences between them.

There are a lot of specific netspeak features: electronic form of information, interactivity, hypertext, multimedia, variable nature of communication (synchrony or asynchrony) and variable status of communicants. All these facts give wide possibilities for demonstrating different language behavior by users. H. Kelly-Holmes reports on the findings from the questionnaire in eight of the ten countries [Kelly-Holmes 2004]. She recounts what the university undergraduates were doing during their last ten sessions in the internet, and what language they were using to do it. As they were all literate in the language of their national education system and with some knowledge of English, their language repertoires gave them some degree of choice in the channels that they could exploit in the internet. H. Kelly-Holmes underlines that the tendency to use English correlates closely with the first language of the respondent and that it is not really possible to talk of global tendencies in behavior [Kelly-Holmes 2004]. Emailing family and friends in the languages that respondents usually use with these groups is the prime activity in this area. And where they use English (or less frequently another international lingua franca), the reasons are not always because they are contacting others across language boundaries. Sometimes the topic of the message dictates the language used, with those studying through English at university tending to use this language to discuss information acquired through English. Here some scientists suspect a large degree of code switching, since users report a lot of dual language use within the same session [Kelly-Holmes 2004]. This is an interesting aspect of the Internet since written language has not traditionally been a medium which admits switching and one which merits further investigation. The term "netspeak" is an alternative to "Netlish" or "Internet language", "cyberspeak", "computer-mediated communication" (CMC), and other more cumbersome locutions [Crystal 2004: 17].

Linguistic identity of the virtual person can be represented by the concept of mask, which is understood as a characteristic that reflects individual linguistic behavior of communicants.
People use different means to underline their individuality: an unusual username or nickname, a bright avatar, some spelling errors, certain symbols and abbreviations.

In this situation name functions is a mediator between the sender and the addressee of virtual communication. "The problem of encoding / decoding information carried by the name is closely related to the specific environment in which this name operates" [Балкунова 2012]. The notion of shared linguistic code is actualized in terms of virtual communication. After all, understanding between communicators in the network can happen only when the language they use is comprehensible for both of them. For investigating the role of a name as an intermediary between subjects of communication, it is important to describe features of nickname and login as examples of virtual identity’s code.

There is a problem of ratio between the user’s intention (encoding) and the degree of recipient’s perception (decoding) in the virtual communication. The main differences are determined by different communication strategies – self-presentation (image of "Me") on the one hand, and identification (image of "He / She"), on the other hand.

"Cognitive activity of both subjects of communication is manifested in the creation of personal image. As a result, there is parameterization "own" and "alien" [Балкунова 2012: 12]. It is important to note that the communication strategy of self-presentation in the construction of the concept of "Me" is implemented in the pragmatic information of a linguistic sign a name, whereas the strategy of knowledge operates with cognitive memory, which interprets semantic characteristics of the linguistic sign [Воркачев 2001: 65-66].

W. Millard uses the term "metacommunicative minimalism" for speech in cyberspace explaining it as follows: "Textual cyberspace filters out personal, identifying, emotionally-colored items... Phatic and metacommunicative signals, linguistic and paralinguistic signs that indicate the social relations between sender and addressee, are sharply reduced in this environment" [Millard 2007]. However, in our opinion, this statement is quite conventional nowadays. In fact, communication in the internet today is an extremely branched diversity of speech genres, according to the ways of communication and specific tools which are available to the user change. Language presented in the CMC is called language centaur, i.e. it combines the features of different speech genres [Crystal 2004]. It should be noted that netspeak is a synthetic, organic combination, not artificial one. This is not just a hybrid of spoken and written text. So netspeak, as defined by D. Crystal and others, is actually another new environment.

The fictional world, the atricalization, unlimited virtual space provides virtual discourse stylistic originality [Асмус 2005: 83]. Getting into the virtual world, user wants to realize his / her creative abilities, which allows him / her to behave the way he / she wants, to say what he / she wants and the way how he / she can do it. "A specific of new environment dictates the rules of language and behavior" [Crystal 2004: 63]. "To put on a mask means to reincarnate, i.e. to have unlimited possibilities in the choice of language, and thus forget about responsibility for the spoken word" [Scheidt 2001]. Virtual communicants are not real people, they are masks or roles. Therefore, it is important to identify personality through a vivid nick or avatar.

Synchronous and asynchronous CMC environments have opened new channels for people to explore their personality. In this medium they engage in written conversations under a nickname, "a participant selected name used to disguise their real identity" [Scheidt 2001]. In the virtual internet-world users meet and talk about their lives, their personal problems, their activities or nothing in particular. In this way CMC mirrors real life face-to-face dialogue.

Many of CMC’s unique qualities revolve around the fact that it is an austere mode of communication. Nickname becomes the participant’s identifier. Nicknames can be very fluid, and are easily and quickly changed to meet the participant’s needs or desires.

Communication in the internet space allows participants to communicate in the relative safety of anonymity. CMC participants, bereft of nonverbal cues, may engage in "selective self-promotion" [Scheidt 2001]. Without visual clues and societal norms gender becomes more malleable in CMC. "Nicknames are used as stand-ins for the participant in their process of self-promotion, as signs. The metaphor of standing-in for is the basis of the observation that signs are used to infer something not directly perceptible, or not directly obvious, from something that simply is" [Ахренова 2009]. Therein lays the point of sign use, representational conceptions of signs, construing their perceptibility as a replacement or representative of that which is not directly perceptible: the expression stands for that which is meant.

Virtual nicknames and nicks in the real life are different. The user invents a nickname for him depending on professional activity, emotional state, life situation, etc. Accordingly, researchers primarily interest in the reasons that have led to the formation of nickname. It is difficult to determine the motivation of such nicknames as Aprel8, Azorel, Fallen_Man, SerjSh, etc. Thus, from the point of motivation it would be correct to allocate motivated and unmotivated nicknames. However, this approach does not always justify itself, because motivation can vary, and sometimes it is absent.

Gender related classification is the most clear. "From early childhood, individuals learn to signal their gender identity in accord with gender stereotypes. They learn to perform "masculinity" or "femininity" [Ходоренко 2006]. Separation into male and female names is doubtless (especially when an icon next to the name identifies sex). But sometimes a nickname is not correlated with either male or with female by its semantic content (ReLLe, e n g, Mir_tobi_ua, Hana Mana), so it falls in the third category unknown gender. However, the number of nicknames that do not fall under one of two categories is very significant (see Table 1), and therefore requires more detailed classification within this "indeterminate" group.

We have identified such distinctive features of the sense female and male nicknames: women prefer diminutives (NynUshka, Yagusya), hypocoristic names that emphasize beauty, sexuality (Mila, Rassvetnaya_, Milady, sonce-33, AprilLove); men names express a sense of superiority over others (Rabynovich, votre reve), rudeness or, conversely, romance (prince).
Considering the usernames from the perspective of their use, we concluded that, as a rule, they do not correspond with the image of the user in real life, but rather indicate that the user is a complete contrast to image created on the network.

Table 1. Gender Classification of Nicknames

Gender

Totals

Male

112

Female

150

Unknown gender

134

 

The semantic classification of male and female nicknames is presented in Table 2 and Table 3.

Table 2. Classification of Male Nicknames

Nicknames

Totals

Percentages

Actual name / Nickname (diminutive)

71

63.39%

Self-character traits

28

25.00%

Typography

22

19.64%

Sex-related

13

11.61%

Famous people / groups

11

9.82%

Tagged as belonging to a "gang" or group

9

8.04%

Age related

6

5.36%

Literature, fairy tales, characters from films, plays, television

6

5.36%

Provocative

5

4.46%

Place names

4

3.57%

Relationships to others

4

3.57%

Technology related

4

3.57%

Inanimate objects

3

2.68%

Flora & fauna

2

1.79%

Meta comment on the anonymity of the medium

2

1.79%

Ethereal

1

0.89%

Multiple chatters

1

0.89%

Popular sayings

1

0.89%

Social / status comments

1

0.89%

Onomatopoeia

0

0.00%

 

Table 3. Classification of Female Nicknames

Nicknames

Totals

Percentages

Actual name / Nickname (diminutive)

95

63.33%

Typography

77

51.33%

Self-character traits

43

28.67%

Age related

22

14.67%

Sex-related

22

14.67%

Provocative

15

10.00%

Literature, fairy tales, characters from films, plays, television

13

8.67%

Social / status comments

13

8.67%

Flora & fauna

8

5.33%

Relationships to others

8

5.33%

Inanimate objects

4

2.67%

Famous people / groups

3

2.00%

Ethereal

2

1.33%

Multiple chatters

2

1.33%

Onomatopoeia

2

1.33%

Popular sayings

2

1.33%

Technology related

2

1.33%

Metacomment on the anonymity of the medium

0

0.00%

Place names

0

0.00%

Tagged as belonging to a "gang" or group

0

0.00%

 

So, nicknames can express desired traits, not just real ones. Thus, the user extols or even advertises himself. A nickname is not a real face of the user, as N. Asmus writes in more details [Асмус 2005].

In our opinion, one of the objective approaches to the classification of nicknames is division into single and multiple units. This separation is applied by linguists [Асмус 2005; Ермолович 2001; Балкунова 2012] in the anthroponomy analysis. So, antroponim is single when in the users’ language consciousness it is correlated with particular person (eg, Platon, Shakespeare, Napoleon). Modern names are not unique because they belong to multiple people (eg, John, Mary, Ivanov, Smiths, etc). But every user wants to ensure that his name was single, original. This is why nickname correlated with anthroponim is changed in different ways. Username can be transformed (eg, La-roch-ka, victor_i_YA, Valenta, PetrenkoPS, e n d, olx, egorka-klim). Classification of names regarding to anthroponimical formula is presented in the investigation made by N. Yaroshenko [Ярошенко 2009]. It seems relevant to use this approach to nicknames’ classification. Most people add to anthroponims signed number to stand out from the masses (Grigorij202, Valenta123, svetik05). It makes the name unique. So, it is important for linguists to analyze the form of nicknames, not just their meaning.

The next approach to classification – division into situational and non-situational nicknames – due to the fact that each individual situation dictates its own rules, and communicators can have multiple nicknames. Situational nickname is the common noun used for the nomination. It succinctly describes the person. Nickname ceases to be situational, when it is assigned to the user and other users start to recognize and differentiate him by this nickname. Situational nicknames are based on random features and various associations. If the nick begins to be used regularly (becomes non-situational), it bonds with the primary motive for the nomination is eventually lost. However, it is difficult to determine is the concrete name situational or not (eg, l_skywalker, Man-go). It is necessary to conduct additional survey of users.

Thus, analysis of different approaches to classification of nicknames shows the imperfection of each of them. It emphasizes the need for systematic consideration of these onomastic units based on communicative pragmatic and psycholinguistic aspects. In our opinion, system analysis of nicknames should include determination of the following parameters: is unit one-word, two-word or wordy in its structure; is it motivated or not; situational or nonsituational; is it correlated with common or proper noun; if it is correlated with anthroponim, which anthroponimical formula corresponds to the nickname. Today, we have a large database for further study on classification nicknames and expanding the criteria for their detailed specifications. Analysis of nicknames helps to understand the specifics of the virtual linguistic identity and particularities of its presentation.

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Millard 2007: Millard, W.B. I flamed Freud: a case study in teletextual incendiarism[Text] / W. B. Millard // Internet culture / David Porter (ed.). – New York : Routledge, 1997. – Pp. 145-159. – ISBN: 0415916844

Scheidt 2001: Scheidt, L.A. Avatars and Nicknames in Adolescent Chat Spaces [Text] / L. A. Scheidt // Gender and Computerization. – Spring 2001. – Access mode : URL : http: // loisscheidt.com / working_papers_archive / Avatars_and_Nicknames.pdf. – Title from the screen.

 

Sources and Abbreviations

Blogs of Ukrainians. – Access mode : URL : http://blog.i.ua/. – Title from the screen.

 

Проаналізовано особливості використання мови в Інтернеті. Описано ніконіми, використовувані українцями у власних блогах. Розглянуто основні підходи до класифікації інтернет-імен, засновані на лінгвістичних особливостях. Доведено необхідність комплексного підходу до розгляду імен, використовуваних для ідентифікації і презентації віртуальної мовної особистості.

Ключові слова: комп'ютерно-опосередкована комунікація, мова інтернету, спільний мовний код, перемикання кодів, ніконім, антропонімічна формула.

Available 12 September 2013.