Dr Elise Kramer is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the UIUC Anthropology Department. She will be presenting on the following topic:
Net-Savvy Cats and Newbie Dogs: Textual Materiality and the Embodiment of Computer-Mediated “Voices”
In this presentation I suggest that, more than merely facilitating already-existing trends in linguistic change, the internet has changed the very way that we play with language by elevating the written word — and specifically the typed word — to the primary communicative medium for millions of people. This is most visible, I argue, in the joking registers that have emerged online. Many of these registers are in the service of Bakhtinian “voicing,” used either to explicitly represent the utterances of another person (or animal) or to implicitly inhabit a “jokey” role (only recognizably funny to those familiar with the register as a jocular one). This use of voicing for humorous purposes is nothing new, but what is new is that the “voices” being ventriloquated are not voices at all: they are fingers typing on a keyboard or swiping on a touch screen. Unlike typical eye dialects, many of these imitative registers consist of textual phenomena that do not correspond to spoken registers.
Looking at examples of humorous internet registers, I argue that the particular materiality of computer-mediated communication has generated a new genre of language play, the practitioners of which are not writing the way someone speaks, but writing the way they would write — and, more specifically, typing the way they would type. Though this distinction is subtle, it represents a significant shift in the ways that language is thought of as an embodied phenomenon.
For now, Elsie's CV and Academia.edu profile can be found here.