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An ethnographic sociolinguistic study of virtual identity in Second Life

Abdullah, Ashraf R. A. (2014) An ethnographic sociolinguistic study of virtual identity in Second Life. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

Text (PhD Thesis)
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The virtual world Second Life (SL) offers its millions of users a fertile environment in which to socialise and engage in digital communication, immersed in a world where it seems like anything is possible and imagination is the only limit. To become an established resident of this virtual world is to acquire a virtual identity, which in turn requires an understanding and acquisition of phenomena such as how to dress, walk and talk. The acquisition of a SLidentity involves various linguistic acts. Users must familiarise themselves with the creative vocabulary of SL in order to reflect in-group identity. They must recognise the deictic field of the virtual environment and act accordingly through appropriate use of indexical and deictic expressions, to show awareness of the virtual surroundings. The final step towards becoming 'virtual' is recognising, acknowledging and fulfilling pragmatic acts in all of their complexity. These acts, such as those of an instructive nature, have different communicative intentions and short and long-term aims that contribute to the (co)construction of virtual identity. A SL corpus of approximately 200 thousand words and 24 hours of video data was gathered through systematic participant observation and ethnographic data collection methods. Wordsmith Tools(Scott, 2011) was used to examine the corpus observing frequencies, concordances and collocations of lexical items, leading to qualitative discussions of examples. Through the use of SLEnglish and SLArabic, reflecting in-group identity, the use of personal pronouns and place and time deictic expressions, indexing one's personal, spatial and temporal awareness in the virtual world, and through instruction and direction, a noob (Crystal, 2004) or novice can transform into a Resident (www.secondlife.com) or established user, and it is this transformation process and the linguistic (co)construction of a virtual identity that is the focus of this study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: sociolinguistics, ethnography, corpus linguistics, computer-mediated communication, digital communication, language and identity, language and social media, virtual identity, Second Life, pragmatics, morphology, word-formation, deixis, indexicality
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.634278
Depositing User: Dr. Ashraf R. A. Abdullah
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 10:41
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7334

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