Computer Mediated Communication: Enregisterment of Gamerspeak and Intertextual Borrowings by 4chan Users

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Virginia Tech


Digital spaces are opening the doors to developing types of registers within languages that rely on computer mediated communication. Participants in the video game community have enregistered language that is concise and efficient for the purposes of game play to make snap decisions. However, the register is being borrowed by 4chan users, adapted to their sociocultural needs, and employed by some to communicate threats of violence. The aim of this thesis is to understand the structure of gaming language both inside and outside of a gaming platform and to examine how some users of 4chan make use of this less commonly understood register for expressions of violent intent. I observe professional eSports athletes in game play, interviews, and news articles to establish a baseline of gaming terminology and examine the structure within this enregistered facet of language. I found that much of gaming terminology is derived through processes already common in the development of slang and other forms of language change, and I used the results of this analysis to generate a survey about understanding of these language forms. This survey was distributed to participants who had different amounts of experience with video games (mega gamers vs. non-mega gamers) to determine each groups' awareness of gaming terminology and their understanding of certain phrases as communication of a threat. The survey revealed that mega gamers more commonly define terms in relation to video games than non-mega gamers, but that they were not more likely to identify phrases with gaming terms as threats except in a few isolated cases.



Linguistics, Enregisterment, Internet, Video Games