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A social network analysis of Irish language use in social media

Caulfield, John 2013. A social network analysis of Irish language use in social media. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Statistics show that the world wide web is dominated by a few widely spoken languages. However, in quieter corners of the web, clusters of minority language speakers can be found interacting and sharing content. This study is the first to compare three such clusters of Irish language social media users. Social network analysis of the most active public sites of interaction through Irish – the Irish language blogosphere, the Irish language Twittersphere and a popular Irish language Facebook group – reveals unique networks of individuals communicating through Irish in unique and innovative ways. Firstly, it describes the members and their activity, and the size and structure of the networks they share. Then through focused discourse analysis of the core prolific users in each network it describes how the language has been adapted to computer-mediated communication. This study found that the largest networks of Irish speakers comprised between 150-300 regular participants each. Most members were adults, male, and lived in towns and cities outside of the language’s traditional heartland. Moreover, each group shared one common trait: though scattered geographically, through regular online interaction between core members they behave like communities. They were found to have shared histories, norms and customs, and self-awareness that their groups were unique. Furthermore, core users had adapted the language in new and innovative ways through their online discourse. This study is the first comprehensive audit of who is using the Irish language socially on the web, where they are forming networks online, and how they are adapting the language to online discourse. It makes a unique contribution in re-imagining what constitutes an Irish language community in the context of the Network Society. In the process, it contributes to the growing body of sociolinguistic research into globalisation and local identity on the web.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Welsh
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages > PB1001 Celtic languages and literature
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social network analysis, Irish language, Gaeilge, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Gaeltacht
Funders: Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Government of Ireland
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:28

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