Multilingualism In Global Communication

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Introduction Ever since the first message was sent more than two decades ago, the short message service (SMS) or text messaging has come a long way as a means of communication. With constantly evolving technologies on one hand, and the growing number and diversity of users on the other, mobile text messaging continues to be an immensely popular mode of communication. In terms of situating text messaging as a means of communication, at one level, there has been an emphasis on the importance of recognizing the interplay between the affordance of technology and what users bring to the technology (Thurlow and Poff 2011). On another level, as technological spaces begin to evolve into diverse linguistic landscapes, the contextualization of the ‘global’…show more content…
In a population of over a billion people, there are a total of 122 languages and 234 mother tongues with over 10,000 speakers according to the 2001 Census of India. Of these, 22 languages have been included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. (http://peopleslinguisticsurvey.org/aboutus.aspx?page=Census). There are forty million users of English on a regular basis, and many more have some ability in the language (Edwards, in Auer and Wei, 2007). Although, not entirely representative, these numbers do point towards the multilingual milieu of India. In fact, the phenomenon of multilingualism in India can be witnessed at both individual as well as societal levels. According to Sridhar (1996), multilingualism, when viewed as an individual phenomenon, considers how one acquires two or more languages in childhood or later, how these languages are represented in the mind, and how they are accessed to fulfil different communicative purposes. When viewed as societal phenomenon, multilingualism, considers roles of languages in a society, attitudes toward languages, determinants of language choice, symbolic and practical uses of the languages, and the correlations between language use and societal factors such as ethnicity, religion, and class (Sridhar in Mckay and Hornberger, 1996). The linguistic landscape of India is essentially characterized by…show more content…
A study of language choice and use in South African SMS communication among bilingual isiXhosa users shows how the writers communicate in the electronic medium using two different languages as well as two non-overlapping sets of sociolinguistic norms (Duemert and Masiyana, 2008). Another study regarding language choice among Jordanian university students looks at socio-linguistic functions of Arabic-English code-switching in mobile text messages (Khatib and Sabbah, 2008). As Haggan (2007) addresses linguistic and cultural questions using English characters to transcribe Arabic texts on one the hand, Spilioti (2009) investigates marked choices employed in the alphabetical encoding of Greek text-messaging, on the other. While the mentioned studies focus on the use of English in a combination with another dominant national language within particularly bilingual contexts, and confirm the importance of cultural diversity, studies pertaining to language choice and use for mobile communication in multilingual contexts such as India, and their implications on texting practices in heterogeneous linguistic contexts are few and far between. The current study sets out to address this gap in research. While the terms bilingualism and multilingualism are
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