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Introduction: Sociolinguistics and computer-mediated communication


Address correspondence to:
Jannis Androutsopoulos
Universität HannoverDeutsches Seminar
Juniorprofessur Medienkommunikation
Königsworther Platz 1D-30167 Hannover


This theme issue of Journal of Sociolinguistics comprises a number of empirical studies focusing on a range of ways in which people use language in computer-mediated communication (CMC). This introduction contextualizes the contributions to this issue by providing an outline of linguistically focused CMC studies. A critique of the research on the ‘language of CMC’ is given, and aspects of CMC research from a sociolinguistic viewpoint are presented: the move from the ‘language of CMC’ to socially situated computer-mediated discourse; its grounding in the notion of online community; and the application of sociolinguistic methodologies to its study. It is argued that CMC provides a new empirical arena for various research traditions in sociolinguistics; conversely, sociolinguistics can contribute to the interdisciplinary theorizing of CMC by demonstrating the role of language use and linguistic variability in the construction of interpersonal relationships and social identities on the Internet.

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