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Title: Thais' writing in English on Facebook : language choice and perceptions of multilingual writing
Author: Sonkaew, Thitichaya
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 5918
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Facebook provides immense space where not only is the environment multilingual but the users are also multilingual. This is linked to the latest way of thinking in ELF where multilingual users generate ‘English as a Multilingua Franca (Jenkins, 2015). Facebook users have not only increased the use of English but are also increasingly creative in their use of English. In public or semi-public spaces in Facebook walls, the posts might be read by multiple audiences with multiple linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This qualitative research focuses on 10 Thai multilingual Facebook users, who reside in Thailand, and other countries. The study aims at examining Thais’ writing on Facebook, revealing language choice and the influences behind the use of their choice and various perceptions of writing in English and other languages. A 3-month Facebook corpus and 2 rounds of interviews reveal that communication on Facebook is complex, fluid, context dependent and adaptable with different audiences. The participants tended to use all the choices from their full ranges of linguistic repertoires with blurred boundaries between languages. This is known as translanguaging, a more recent concept of code-switching and goes beyond code-switching. With affordances provided by Facebook, it has shaped communication in a more complex way than face to face. The affordances allow Facebook users to create their semi-public communication and play with multimodal features such as photos, videos, emoticons with or without written texts. A number of different scripts and the use of different languages with multimodality are commonly found. Diverse choice of languages includes switching between English, Thai and other languages. Separate sections of different languages and switching between languages and scripts in the same chunks are also common practice. Several participants have added Thai value by putting Thai particles in their English conversations, using numeral 555 referring to sound of laughing, and using Thai Romanisation known as karaoke language. Such choices are chosen with purposes including the target audience, convenience, communicative clarity, creativity, English competence, identity and technology issues. There were various perceptions of writing in English on Facebook. Writing in English was viewed as part of the everyday life of most Thai participants, although they presented different degrees of feeling comfortable or less comfortable writing in English with certain groups of Facebook Friends. Perceptions of Thais’ writing in English to other Thais were context dependent. This practice can be perceived as positive, neutral and negative, and the majority of participants did not show a preference for a particular version of mainstream English to be used on Facebook. Although many of them were aware of being watched by other Thais for their ability to write grammatical English on Facebook, they understood that the main purpose of writing in English was for successful communication. They considered themselves legitimate users of English on Facebook. The original contribution of this study is that there are few studies in relation to multilingual practice and multimodal practice on social network sites. This study can open up new research areas and add new knowledge about a linguistic phenomenon at a particular time. The study suggests accommodation strategies in online writing which can support the existing studies of accommodation strategies in ELF research in different settings and channels. The study will benefit researchers who would like to generate greater understanding of multilingual writing on Facebook. English has penetrated social network sites, not only as a lingua franca among speakers who have linguistic and cultural differences, but also among Thais who share their mother tongue. In terms of English language teaching, teachers can encourage their students to use Facebook to learn and practice writing in English, and make them aware that there are variations of English. To communicate successfully in writing, accommodation strategies should be prioritized, rather than an excessive focus on grammar. It appears that focusing on grammar can lead to social pressure when Thais are aware of their grammar being watched. This can impede the opportunity for them to use English for fear of losing face. As Facebook can be an additional channel to learn and practice English, Thais should change their attitude of watching the grammar used by other Thais’ Facebook Friends, and they should be encouraged to use English without feeling embarrassed.
Supervisor: Baker, William ; Archibald, Alasdair Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available