Language Varieties on Social Media. Different Word-Formation Processes and Their Definitions

Seminar Paper, 2021

17 Pages, Grade: 0


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 English as a lingua Franca on social media
2.1 Social media categories
2.2 the use oflanguage in social media

3 Abbreviation

4 Borrowing

5 Clipping

6 Blending
6.1 Blending with overlapping
6.2 Blending with thefirst splinter clipped
6.3 Blending with the second splinter clipped

7 Compounding

8 Conclusion

9 References

1 Introduction

Living in the digital era, the way people comminate has changed during the last decades. Traditional communicating patterns developed in a way that allows people to stay in their homes and make use of their technical devices to connect with others. Writing letters and going out to meet partners is outdated nowadays. As English is the lingua franca of the Internet in general it is also used in social media by most of the users. Long-distance relationships with one partner being an English-speaking country and the other one in a nonanglophone country also add to the fact that they communicate in English. The main question is how social media has changed the way people communicate in anglophone countries. It is very important to observe this topic because English is known as a language that changes constantly. Especially in social media, there are varieties of English that are used to communicate in the chat room or the comment section. The following paper aims to analyze the language that is used on social media. With word-formation processes as an umbrella term, the linguistic features which are part of digital communication will be listed. The first chapter will introduce the term social media and English as the lingua franca of digital communication. The next chapters will discuss the focus of the paper namely different word-formation processes and their definitions. With the help of secondary sources, each chapter will provide examples of daily written English on social networks. The paper concludes with a final summary and thoughts on the subject. This research paper discusses the different language varieties of social media with a deeper focus on word-formation processes.

2 English as a lingua Franca on social media

Standard English evolved as lingua franca during the late 19th century. The language is the medium of communication of people with different linguistic origins throughout the world.

English is now the dominant or official language in over 60 countries and is represented on every continent (Crystal, 1997). Moreover, English is the dominant voice in international politics, banking, the press, news agencies, broadcasting, the recording industry, motion pictures, travel, technology, knowledge management, and communications. It is the main language of the Internet, not to mention books, newspapers, airports and air traffic control, international business and academic conferences, sports, international competitions, pop music, and advertising. (A. Ariza and Navarro 2006)

According to the Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, English is also the common language of subjects like science, medicine, and social sciences. Thus, approximately 45% of the world’s mail is written in English and information is stored digitally in the native language. However, with the evolution of social media throughout the last decades, English also became the main language of communication on the different networks.

It is important to highlight that the version of English used on social media is not the same that is used in the world of natural science. The modern form of communication differs from standard English in its orthographic representation. Users want to bring their message across as fast as possible, without considering spelling rules. Besides that, social media is used by people of different age groups starting from approximately eight years until retirement age.

2.1 Social media categories

When talking about the different language varieties on social media, it is important to define the term. The first range of tools that developed as social media platforms started in the early 90s with the launch of eBay. During the following decade, the term web log was coined by Jorn Barger which later became blog. Several internet services were launched such as Wikipedia, which is still commonly used. In 2003 Skype and Word Press were introduced. In 2004 Facebook was an immediate success. With YouTube coming to existence one year later, also Twitter made its debut and virtual communication started. The services that initially were attractive to most users were forums, chatrooms, and blogs. Since every network has its individual services to offer, Jimma (2017) divided them into three categories:

Table 1: Three categories ofsocial media

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Depending on the service one requires, the respective category is available. When it comes to the change of language the Communications category has the biggest influence. The latter category includes networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that are used by people to maintain connections and relations. Facebook, for instance, is the primary source of personal opinions that the authors want to make public. These can include political statements, personal issues, commenting on an ongoing topic, or even jokes and fun content. On the contrary, if one feels the need to express themselves through longer text passages such as blogs or short stories, there are plenty of websites available for that. Collaboration services are beneficial for the increase of common knowledge such as Wikipedia or Wikihow. Any user can easily change the content and react to certain topics. Part of this category is also websites like Reddit or Newsvine “, that allow anyone that signs up for their services to spread news that they feel are noteworthy (Jimma 2017)”. Multimedia services, on the other hand, are usually connected to entertainment services. Streaming sites and video-sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitch allow users to broadcast live videos for their followers. Furthermore, Virtual Worlds are also part of the third category. Included are online video gaming in solo or multiplayer mode. Famous examples are modern warfare games like World of Warcraft, the GTA series, and Counterstrike.

2.2 the use of language in social media

After having discussed the term and the categories, it is important to observe the importance of language varieties on social media networks. As already mentioned in the above chapter, every category offers different services to the users. Hence, there are different communication habits in online interaction. While users on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are mainly communicating in the comment section or via the private messenger (PM) or Instagram Direct (DM), Online gamers are communicating through a headset. Therefore, the language they use differs from each other. In addition to that, there are also a few language restrictions for every network. While Twitter only allows a certain number of characters i.e., 280, YouTube, on the other hand, allows users to discuss in the comment section of videos without a restriction of words, whatsoever. The topics to discuss are related to the topic of the video. Private messaging on Instagram is a personal way of communication with one person only and, that means the text passage is not visible for others.

Social media users are all over the world, therefore, the languages used to communicate often switch from one’s mother tongue to a second language, which is English, most of the time. This global user basis resulted in different new speech styles, which are applied in the dialogues. To make the conversation as lively as possible, there are a variety of acronyms used to describe emotions. One of the most famous ones is LOL, which means laughing out loud. One party sends it to the other one to convey the feeling of something being funny. There is a variety of new vocabulary and usage of digital language in the online world. For a better understanding, it is worthy to observe the different word-formation processes in throughout the following chapters in deep.

3 Abbreviation

The main aim of abbreviation is to change two or more elements of words to create a new lexeme. It deals with the internal structure of words and their different meanings once they are changed. These complex words require a certain understanding of semantics to interpret the words correctly without excessive analysis. However, there are certain rules to follow when it comes to word-formation processes, which will be discussed during the next chapters. The first process, which is worthy to highlight is abbreviation. It describes the shortened forms of lengthy words or phrases, which are used in a lot of different fields in spoken English and written English. There are, however, several different types of abbreviation.

- Acronym - a word created from the initial letters of a name or phrase
- NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

- Initialism - Letters reduced to initials and every letter pronounced as an individual.
- FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation

The main question now is, which abbreviations are common on social media. Even though they started in written communication in the private chatroom or the caption or comment section, the following examples of abbreviation heavily influenced the speaking habits, especially of English-speaking young people.

- ASAP - as soon as possible
- DIY - Do it yourself
- est. - established
- prep - preparation/preparing
- tel. - telephone
- AKA - away from keayboard
- ROFL - rolling on the floor laughing
- OMG - Oh My God
- FYI- for your information

It is important to highlight that the examples listed above may be spelled differently depending on individual preferences. While some put periods after each letter, the others leave it out. Some may also use the shortened forms in lower-case letters, which reduced the typing time on the keyboard. The basic process of abbreviation is also applied to many other word­formation processes, especially using shortening a word to create a new one. There are, however, processes that need more than one word to create a new lexeme. (Faradisa et al. 2019)

4 Borrowing

Borrowing is the process of taking vocabulary from other languages. It is not only present in English but also in other languages like Indonesian or Malaysian which is very popular on social media. For instance, the word guru is a loanword from Hindi and is typical in the English language. As a matter of fact, throughout history, English has adapted many loan words in its dictionaries. A social media is a platform that is used by people all over the globe, it is interesting to observe how other languages use Anglicisms in their daily speech. Food bloggers and travel bloggers are part of the majority who use Anglicisms on their Instagram pages. The following foreign terms were provided by Nunez (2019) as common Anglicisms used in Spanish and their equivalent.

Table 2: Anglisicm -used by food bloggers

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On the other hand, there are the Anglicisms used by travel bloggers.

Table 3: Anglicisms -used by travel bloggers

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Excerpt out of 17 pages


Language Varieties on Social Media. Different Word-Formation Processes and Their Definitions
Klagenfurt University
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
language, varieties, social, media, different, word-formation, processes, their, definitions
Quote paper
Farisa Chamajewa (Author), 2021, Language Varieties on Social Media. Different Word-Formation Processes and Their Definitions, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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