"Bilingual Chat Rooms are Changing the Way Language is Used"
It would appear that forums such as this are actually changing the way language is being used, especially by young people, around the world. For example, in his article, “Second Language Socialization in a Bilingual Chat Room: Global and Local Considerations,” Wan Shun Lam (2004) discusses how new forms of social networking have emerged on the Internet; and how these forms encourage particular types of uses of English among ESL students. Interestingly, Lam found that young people are inventing their own pidgin* languages for use in online forums such as this one.
The author describes two young Chinese students, Yu Qing and Tsu Ying, who had turned to a bilingual Chinese/English chat room such as this one to develop their fluency in English.
Lam examined the language practices of this online community and how it provided an additional context of language socialization for these two girls. The author found that when the girls were at school, they had difficulty interacting with their English-speaking peers; however, on the Internet, they were able to use English to create social and ethnic identifications with other young people of Chinese origin in different parts of the world.
“It was in the chat room environment that they participated in the verbal culture of teenagers (in English) and socialized to a collective identity related to the kind of English that they were acquiring. In analyzing the exchanges in the bilingual chat room, I demonstrate and argue that a mixed-code variety of English that includes writing in romanized Cantonese was adopted and developed among the girls and their peers to construct their relationships as bilingual speakers of English and Cantonese. This language variety served to create a collective ethnic identity for these young people and specifically allowed the two girls in this study to assume a new identity through language. This new identity follows neither the social categories of English -speaking Americans nor those of Cantonese-speaking Chinese” (p. 44).
I wonder what things will be like 100 years from now? To see what things are like right now, please participate in my poll. Thanks!
*pidgin: language with a greatly reduced vocabulary and a simplified grammar, often based on a western European language. Pidgins usually arise as methods of communication between groups that have no language in common; the pidgins in some instances later become established first or second languages of one of the groups involved. Some examples of pidgin are Chinese Pidgin English, Haitian French Creole, and Melanesian Pidgin English
Article Title: Second Language Socialization in a Bilingual Chat Room: Global and Local Considerations. Contributors: Wan Shun Lam - author. Journal Title: Language, Learning & Technology. Volume: 8. Issue: 3. Publication Year: 2004. Page Number: 44.