Corpus-Approaches to the New English Web: Post-Colonial Diasporic Forums in West Africa and the Caribbean

Christian Mair


The present contribution reports on research carried out since November 2011 in the framework of the project 'Cyber-Creole' funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG MA 1652/9). The Cyber-Creole project is complemented by 'RomWeb' (DFG PF 699/4), which is headed by Stefan Pfänder of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Freiburg, Germany. The two projects both use data downloaded from web-based forums, employ identical strategies of data collection and mark-up and have developed a shared search and analysis interface, NCAT (= Net Corpora Administration Tool). The two projects also share a similar general theoretical orientation, being motivated by an interest in how the new media impact on the spread of standard and non-standard varieties of European ex-colonial languages in conditions of economic, political, cultural and media globalisation. In this regard, their work is intended to make a substantial contribution to the emerging research paradigm of the sociolinguistics of globalisation (Blommaert 2010, Coupland, ed. 2010, Mair 2013, Mair and Pfänder (forthcoming)). The present brief survey will introduce the theoretical stance the "English" branch of the project takes in the context of contemporary World Englishes research (section 1). Building on this, I will introduce the analytical tool-kit which we have developed to study computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the diasporas at the centre of our attention (section 2) and describe the sociolinguistic profile of the "Cyber-Jamaican" and "Cyber-Nigerian" developed by two such groups (sections 3 and 4). The conclusion (section 5) will summarise the most important insights and outline perspectives for further work.

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