Online Sociolinguistics

New “Grammar Nazi” article out

In 2013, me and my American-born and Prague-based sociolinguist colleague, Tamah Sherman, started a research side project on “Grammar Nazis”, language management and humor. Our first article on the topic is available here, and the second one, on “Grammar Nazis” and literacy privilege, has just come out in New Media & Society. You can also read a blog post about it here.

Here goes the abstract:

In contemporary online culture, Grammar Nazi (GN) is a derogatory term used to label individuals who practice excessive language policing but has also been ironically appropriated by groups of users who engage in evaluation of other people’s grammar for entertainment purposes. In this article, we combine approaches from media studies and sociolinguistics to analyze the adoption of the phenomenon by two GN Facebook pages in two languages: English and Czech. Our mixed-method analysis shows that while both pages can be read as examples of media participation, they also exemplify their users’ “literacy privilege” associated with standard language ideology. However, there are differences in the practices associated with the label, reflecting the specific sociolinguistic contexts. While Czech GNs act as “guardians” of the public space, collecting and displaying localized orthographic errors for collective dissection, the English page is more dedicated to sharing jokes and puns typical of international online culture.

Note: The image is a meme of unknown origin circulating on online joke sites.