The Use of English on Social Media: Deviation or Variation?


This study examined the use of English on social media with a view to assessing the extent to which the language of social media conforms to the standard English usage. The theoretical framework adopted for this study is constructed homophony. The data for the study were drawn from selected messages and posts on Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram. Thirty (30) texts were randomly selected from the data gathered and analysised textually within the framework of constructed homophony. The study revealed that the non-conforming social media use of English appears at the grammatical level; sentences, phrases and words are condensed to series of letters, figures and signs that somehow correlate with English orthography and structural patterns. Orthographically, some words are misspelt probably to speed up the rate of communication and lexically, there is reappropriation of existing words; new words are literally created and new meaning given to existing words. The study concluded that since the rules and conventions of word and sentence patterns in English are not complied with by social media users, then there is deviation. Thus, since the description and codification of social media linguistic features and the provision of conducive linguistic, educational and political environments for its popularity and use have not been established, it could not be regarded as a variety of English. Hence, users of social media should always be conscious of not transferring the linguistic features of social media language to the formal use of English to preserve the standard of the language.

Author Information
Cecilia Folasade Ojetunde, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Nigeria

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2019
Stream: Arts - Media Arts Practices: Television

This paper is part of the ECAH2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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