Stoefpears run the world’: the use of English code-mixing in Dutch youths’ computer-mediated communication.

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The aim of this thesis is to analyse and describe the use of English in computer-mediated communication by Dutch youths. The main research question is: how and how much do Dutch youths code-mix and adopt elements from the English language in their Dutch written computer-mediated communication? This question has been answered through corpus research, using a CMC corpus consisting of messages by male and female youths between the ages of 12 and 23 on MSN, SMS, Twitter and WhatsApp. Based on previous research on code-mixing, youth language and computer-mediated communication, various language-internal and -external factors that contribute to these topics have been analysed. The following ten factors are taken into account: length of switches, number of switches per CMC item, lexical category of switches, integration of switches, semantic fields of switches, intentionality of switches, frequency of switches, CMC mode, gender, and age. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of how these factors influence the use of English and interact with each other has been conducted. A total of 8619 switches to English by youths on the four different CMC modes was collected and analysed. The main conclusion from the analysis is that 2.19% of the words in the corpus were English elements, in itself a considerable amount. However, the results suggest that the Dutch youths do not communicate in English with a near-native proficiency level: although they exhibit a certain level of creativity in code-mixing, the English elements are mostly conversational words and phrases such as greetings, affective language, swear words and fixed expressions. The results imply that Dutch youths mainly use English as a part of ‘teenage talk’: to boost their expressivity and to distinguish themselves from older speakers of Dutch.
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