S1712 The Sociolinguistics of Cyberspace

Thorburn Jennifer

The Internet and digital media have impacted nearly every aspect of modern culture, changing the way that we communicate, interact, work, learn, and more. As a result, computer-mediated communication (CMC) has become a part of everyday life. People are constantly connected, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are omnipresent, and new forms of communication spring up (and sometimes die), such as textspeak, leetspeak, emoticons/emojis.

With the advent of the digital age, we are also faced with new questions and issues. How do people behave linguistically and construct identities online? Do our online personas reflect our IRL ones? How can we define authenticity? Does digital literacy impact other kinds of literacy? Do so-called ‘digital natives’ make use of cyberspaces or engage sociolinguistically with technologies differently from previous generations? Furthermore, as researchers, we must question how to conduct research in an ethical manner in cyberspace. To explore these issues, students will debate the nature of ethics when working with digital material, issues of authenticity and identity, and the various ways we communicate digitally, as we cover topics ranging from studies of computer-mediated communication to ethical data collection to catfishing and trolling.