Article in:Internet Pragmatics: Online-First Articles
“I am a real cat”
French-speaking cats on Twitter as an enregistered variety and community of practice
This paper is an exploration of the variety of French-speaking cats on Twitter. Among the many creative phenomena that the internet has produced, animal-related language varieties, the language used by pets, have been explored as early as the 2000s, yet with a strong and almost exclusive focus on English. I first describe the shared repertoire of lexical, semantic, phonographic, and syntactic features used by French-speaking cats, and show how the simultaneous use of a childlike code and a formal register constructs the sociolinguistic persona of cats as ambivalent animals. I argue that the French variety has become “enregistered” (Squires 2010) insofar as it is perceived and ideologically constructed as a variety of its own while promoting a welcoming culture towards new members. In doing so, cats show that the belonging to a community of practice, notably by drawing on a common repertoire of resources, does not need to be linked with processes of exclusion.
Keywords: Twitter, internet variety, enregisterment, community of practice, French, cats, cat-related language varieties, LOLspeak, LOLcat
- 1.Introduction: Francophone cats online
- 2.Cat-related language varieties until now
- 3.Typical features of English-speaking cats
- 4.Investigating cats online: The corpus
- 4.1How it all began
- 4.2Sütterlin Scat Katz: The established member at the core of the community
- 4.3A structured network of interrelated accounts
- 4.4Data selection and researcher’s involvement with the online community
- 5.Constructing an ambivalent sociolinguistic persona: Cats as arrogant yet needy pets
- 5.1Recurring topics: More than snapshots of the cats’ daily lives
- 5.2Lexical features: Euphemisms, exaggerations, and wordplays
- 5.3The semantic field of personal relations: Childlike politeness and obsequiosity
- 5.4Phonographic features: Between sociolect and language acquisition
- 5.5Syntactic features: A mix-and-match
- 6.Constituting a community of practice: Towards the enregisterment of the variety
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Published online: 11 July 2022
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