Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 2, No 1 (2006)

Where East Meets West – Dual Hybridity in the E-Discourse of Hong Kong Bilinguals

Ronald Carter, Loretta Fung
Issued Date: 19 Mar 2007


Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is a growing topic in linguistic research. Based on an 80,000-word corpus of MSN messaging data of twenty English-Cantonese bilingual interlocutors, this paper investigates cross-linguistic and cross-cultural features of e-discourse in relation to spoken and written language. Where East meets West, the new register demonstrates a dual form of hybridity: a hybridity of an amalgam of spoken and written language with a largely oral orientation and a hybridity of transcreative language, as a construct of modality, technology, linguistic and cultural diversity.1 Four central forms of language, namely, compressed language, personalised language, transcreative language and visual language are identified for expressing interpersonal solidarity and cultural identity. Against this background sounds, letters, words, typography, spellings and graphics are manipulated and played with under parameters such as modality as well as temporality, synchronicity and spatiality in computer-mediated communication.2 It is speculated that some generic forms of text features and interactional strategies are common in non-English Internet users but this emerging form of online writing is challenging and reshaping the conventional literacy practices that formal education promotes.

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v2i1.29


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