Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Center for the Study of Language and Society

"Where the f* am I from?" Negotiating language and belonging online

Dienstag, 16.10.2018, 18:15 Uhr

Das Forum Language and Society ist eine Reihe von Gastvorträgen zu Themen der Soziolinguistik. Doktorierende der GSH können sich die Teilnahme als Zuhörende mit 0,25 ECTS pro Vortrag anrechnen lassen.

Veranstaltende: Forum Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Prof. Dr. Unn Røyneland, Center for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan, University of Oslo
Datum: 16.10.2018
Uhrzeit: 18:15 - 19:45 Uhr
Ort: F-121
Lerchenweg 36
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich

In this talk, I will discuss dialect use, language and identity negotiations, metalinguistic commentary, and language policing online, looking at a rap video and YouTube commentary where language, place and belonging are thematised. Following Bucholtz and Hall (2005), Woolard (2008), and also the works of Schegloff (2007) and Stokoe (2012) on membership categorization analysis (MCA), I look at how identities are negotiated online through evoking common categories, activities and attributes. The analysis shows that hybrid identities seem to be particularly difficult to negotiate and are often rejected and policed along with the mixed linguistic practices with which they tend to be associated. The analysis also shows that the use of dialect features may add diametrically opposed social meanings – it can both grant and subvert legitimacy, authenticity and authority. In some cases, dialect features are taken to index local belonging and authenticity, and in other cases to index insularity and lack of authority, while language correctness is used as a measure for determining who is and who is not to be considered a legitimate citizen.

The study analyses the YouTube video “Where I come from” by the Norwegian-Chilean-Peruvian rapper, Pumba, and the comments following the video (N=661) (Røyneland 2018). The video, which includes both working class Oslo features and multiethnolectal features, triggers a rather heated discussion in the comment string. Whereas some commentators align with Pumba and report similar experiences and stances, others strongly disalign with him and express a rather essentialist views on language and belonging. Metalinguistic and metapragmatic comments directed to both the video itself and to previous comments are analysed. In this presentation I particularly focus on how dialect features are used and what meanings are attributed to them by the different participants.



Bucholtz, M. and K. Hall 2005. Identity and interaction: a sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies 7(4–5): 585–614.

Røyneland, U. 2018. Virtually Norwegian: negotiating language and identity on YouTube. In Cutler & Røyneland (eds.), Multilingual Youth Language in Computer Mediated Communication. Cambridge University Press, 145–168.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. 2007. A tutorial on membership categorization. Journal of Pragmatics 39: 462–482.

Stokoe, Elisabeth 2012. Moving forward with membership categorization analysis: Methods for

systematic analysis. Discourse Studies 14(3): 277–303.

Woolard, K. A. 2008. Language and Identity Choice in Catalonia: The Interplay of Constrasting Ideologies of Linguistic Authority. In Süselbeck, et al. (eds.) Lengua, Nación E Identidad: La Regulación Del Plurilingüismo En España y América Latina, 303–323.