Virtual Frisian: A comparison of language use in North and West Frisian virtual communities

Belmar, Guillem
Heyen, Hauke
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University of Hawaii Press
Social networking sites have become ubiquitous in our daily communicative exchanges, which has brought about new platforms of identification and opened possibilities that were out of reach for many minoritized communities. As they represent an increasing percentage of the media we consume, these sites have been considered crucial for revitalization processes. However, the growing importance of social media may also pose a problem for minoritized languages, as the need for communication with a wider audience seems to require the use of a language of wider communication. One way in which this apparent need for a global language can be avoided is by creating virtual communities where the minoritized languages can be used without competition, a virtual breathing space. This study analyzes language practices of eight communities: four North Frisian and four West Frisian virtual communities. The analysis focuses on the languages used in each community, the topics discussed, as well as the status of the minoritized language in the community. A total of 1,127 posts are analyzed to determine whether these communities function as breathing spaces, the factors that may foster or prevent the emergence of these spaces, and the similarities and differences between these two sociolinguistic contexts.
North Frisian, West Frisian, virtual communities, breathing spaces, minoritized languages, language revitalization
Belmar, Guillem & Hauke Heyen. 2021. Virtual Frisian: A comparison of language use in North and West Frisian virtual communities. Language Documentation & Conservation 15: 285-315.
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