YouTube Comments as Metalanguage Data on Non-standardized Languages: The Case of Trinidadian Creole English in Soca Music
This chapter takes an innovative look at YouTube comments as a source of language attitudinal data, otherwise known as metalanguage. Social media sites are linguistically emancipatory spaces where users of non-standardized/non-codified languages are free to communicate, interact, and collaborate as they see fit, free from prescriptivism and censure. Within the framework of indexicality, specific units of language (e.g., vocalic/consonantal sounds or words) may become associated with multiple social correlates such as gender, socio-economic class, and education. At higher levels of indexicality or indexical orders, the same unit of language may index particular stances in specific contexts. In this analysis, YouTube comments on soca music—a genre of party music popularized during Trinidadian carnival and performed in non-standardized Trinidadian Creole English—are treated as metalanguage data. A model of indexical orders associated with a particular Trinidadian Creole English vowel is proposed, based on YouTube metalanguage and data from other established empirical studies. The analysis highlights how this particular Trinidadian Creole English vowel indexes oppositional stances against respectability in a carnival context. Overall, the chapter positions computer-mediated communication via social media as a powerful means through which users of non-standardized/non-codified languages can display and exert their social and linguistic agency.
KeywordsSocial Meaning Linguistic Intuition Creole Language Oppositional Stance Carnival Music
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