Article in:Internet Pragmatics: Online-First Articles
The construction of heterogeneous and fluid identities
Translanguaging on WeChat
This paper presents a case study of identity construction and performance by examining the dynamic translanguaging practices of a Chinese student in the UK on a widely-used social media platform, WeChat. Drawing on data from WeChat Moment posts, chatting records, face-to-face interviews and online interviews over a period of 10 months, the study discusses identity construction in a digital world with a particular focus on heterogeneity and fluidity. The main findings include the following two points. First, the participant is the epitome of his world; he selects and manipulates linguistic and other semiotic resources indicating his beliefs, attitudes and life trajectory, and he actively, creatively, critically and strategically uses resources from his communicative repertoire to construct heterogeneous and fluid self-identities in his interactions with others. Second, the participant actively creates a virtual translanguaging space on WeChat, within which his new and old identities and different knowledge meet, integrate and fuse. The findings of this research provide detailed insights of digital translanguaging practices of WeChat users and contribute to a comprehensive understanding of identity (re)construction and (re)formation of an increasing number of overseas Chinese students.
Keywords: identity, translanguaging, communicative repertoire, WeChat, overseas Chinese students, Goffman, internet neologism, social media
Published online: 17 February 2020
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