Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Hi there!
It is a real pleasure to be part of sociocmc blog. Thanks to Lauren for letting me participate in this intellectually exciting blog. By the way, for those who do not have any idea who I am (not that it matters a lot ;)), let me just introuduce myself to them. I am Anupam Das- a doctoral student in Linguistics at Indiana University, Bloomington with a minor in Information Science. My primary research interests include sociolinguistics and pragmatic approaches to computer-mediated communication, especially computer-mediated discourse analysis and social network analysis. Currently, I am working on my pilot study for my dissertation. I am looking at the the relationship of social closeness of bilingual Bengalis on orkut and codeswitching. This paper examines linguistic variation among bilingual Bengalis on orkut with respect to the hypothesis, based on the model of Milroy and Milroy (1992), that standard variants tend to be associated with weak social network ties, while vernacular variants are associated with strong network ties. In the case of this study, the standard variant is English, and the vernacular variant is Bengali. Specifically, the study examines whether the strength of ties (i.e. weak vs. strong) of users’ social network has any relation to their choice of language in their ‘scrapbook,’ which is a public interface in which orkut members can leave messages, or ‘scraps’, for their friends. The study also examines what Bengalis talk about on orkut (i.e., topic of their scraps) and how interlocutors achieve their communicative goals (i.e. functional aspects of their scraps).

I would appreciate any constructive suggestions/feedback for my research. Does anyone know if there are any studies that looked at social network sites from sociolinguistic point of view?

i'm completely in the dark about social network research, though danah boyd seems to be the it-girl in that area lately (her work isn't specifically linguistic, but looks waaay interesting). your own research sounds great, and reminds me a lot of paolillo's work on social networks and codeswitching in irc on a larger/different scale. two quick questions about the project-

what's the precedent for looking at bengali as a vernacular? are the users on orkut orienting to it as such because of prior ideologies about the language that exist among bengalis, or is the idea of bengali as vernacular new to the group and stems more from the online community?

i know in english we have a nice continuum of language styles that are 'particular' to CMD, some of which are oriented to as more vernacular than others - are you going to be looking at these different kinds of use in your analysis, or are you going on more of a strictly english/bengali kind of diglossic model? i'm personally really interested in whether a more 'standardly written' bengali would be seen as more or less vernacular than a very CMC-form laden style of written english by the users (also to what extent bengali has its own CMC-forms that get thrown around in CMD, and the ideas that speakers have about those).
Welcome welcome! The project sounds great. Like Joshua, I'd say the only precedent I can think of is Paolillo, which you no doubt know of because you no doubt work with him :)

Unfortunately there's no work on linguistics in social network sites that I can think of - boyd talks about language a little, but not from a linguistic point of view. I wrote a paper last year about Friendster testimonials as a discourse genre, identifyinng what social functions they serve and what linguistic strategies serve to, uh, serve them. I can send it to you if you'd like, though it was just for a class, so I don't vouch for its utmost professionalism. (And yes, I know Friendster is dead now, but whatev)
thanks joshua and squires for the guys are right... paolillo have done lot of work on codeswithing and online social networking. squires! i will be really happy to read your paper. you may send me the link or even send me the paper as email attachment (

joshua, i believe your question needs an elaborate explanation. currently i am caught up with several things but i promise to come up with an appropriate explanation shortly. a brief answer to your question about the precedent for looking at bangla as vernacular is based on prior ideologies. in my own mphil dissertation where i looked at immigrant's bengalis' processes of linguistic assimilation, i found that bengalis despite having positive attitudes towards bangla believe that bangla is good for personal gains but not for social/professional gains. for most educated urban bangalis english is the medium of education and thus they have very little exposure to literary bangla. they also claim that in social gatherings (even when most people are bengalis) they prefer to use english over bangla yet they hold highly positive attitude towards bangla (however, that may or may not be the case for the bengalis living in bangla speech communities). one of my (and some other people Mukherjee, 1980)main findings is that there is functional seperation between bangla and english.bangla is mostly used at home while english (and sometimes hindi) are used in public places.

unlike english, bangla does not exibit (at least i am not aware of) much variation that are particular to cmc. i am not sure why...however, in one of my term papers that i wrote for one of my classes i found that postpositional inflections (bangla is fusional type)are often typed separately much like english prepositions ( john 'johnke'(usual way of writing) but cmc version would be john ke (to)).
whoa - that's a nice set of ideologies to be working with. it'll be interesting to see how that functional separation is being replicated (or not) in the online community.

keep us posted!
absolutely! i have just started to work on this project...preliminary analysis indicates that inter-sentencial codeswitching is rather common. however, percentage of bangla is greater than English. one very interesting fact is that despite the fact that they use bangla often than English while scraping on their friends' scrapbook, they would use English to write testimonials. i believe this has to do with the perception of the members... it may be the case that they think that testimonials are written for public and 'scraps' are only for their intended friends and thus this difference!
Hi Anupam,
This is Aushima Thakur. I wanted to get in touch with you regarding some help for my PhD research work. If you could give your email id, that would be nice! Your area is really interseting any any help in making the right choice for my PhD topic will be highly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Aushima Thakur
Hello Guys,

I am currently doing some research on computer-mediated communication: speech and writing: comparing blogs and chats

I can't seem to find a way to gather data quickly.....

Would anyone of you know how to do that in order to compare variation in English.
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