Supervernaculars and their dialects
This paper introduces the term ‘supervernacular’ as a descriptor for new forms of semiotic codes emerging in the context of technology-driven globalization processes. Supervernaculars are widespread codes used in communities that do not correspond to ‘traditional’ sociolinguistic speech communities, but are deterritorialized and transidiomatic communities that, nonetheless, appear to create a solid and normative sociolinguistic system. Such systems — we illustrate them by referring to mobile texting codes — can be seen as the outcome of complex processes of englobalization-and-deglobalization, of globally circulating affordances that always and inevitably get taken up within the possibilities and constraints of local sociolinguistic economies. Consequently, they only occur as ‘dialects’ of the supervernacular: instances of locally constrained and ‘accented’ realization that display an orientation to the ideological ‘standard’ supervernacular. Investigating supervernaculars, seen from this angle, illustrates and clarifies fundamental sociolinguistic processes of ‘standardization’ and sheds light on the cultural dynamics of superdiversity.
Published online: 31 August 2012
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