Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Kira Hall

Second Advisor

Kaifa Roland

Third Advisor

J. Andrew Cowell

Abstract

In this study, I argue that new media discourse has facilitated the enregisterment of orthographies for languages that were primarily oral in the ‘pre-network society’ age. Specifically, I will look at this phenomenon as it applies to Trinidad English Creole, a formally oral Creole language from Trinidad and Tobago. I will investigate the sociolinguistic implications of orthographic and scriptural choices, and how such practices both index and constitute social hierarchies, identities, and relationships (Jaffe et al 2012). Prior to 1990, Trinidad English Creole rarely appeared in written form apart from fictional speech in postcolonial dialectal literature or as indirect speech in newspaper articles. Coinciding with ‘the rise of the network society’ (Castells 2000), Trinidad English Creole is increasingly being employed by diasporic members for written personal communication in computer-mediated discourse. Through the utilization of theoretical frameworks that have been posited by social scientists in regards to our interactions in this new ‘mediascape’ (Appadurai 1996), I intend to show that (i) computer mediated communication is facilitating the enregisterment of Trinidad English Creole, a formally oral language, and (ii) these orthographic choices are employed metapragmatically as a means of enacting a subversive identity, and more particularly, a cosmopolitan postcolonial identity.

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