Various Tongues Updated: Mediatisation, Visualisation and the Digitalisation of Social Multilingualism – the Continuing Role of English

  • Allan James University of Klagenfurt


The present paper revisits the publication Vielerlei Zungen (2003) and examines whether some of the tentative conclusions of the volume as to the then analysed sociocultural traits of practised multilingualism have been substantiated over time. Indeed, the observed development of pluralistic and shifting linguistic identities, of multilingual discourse spaces and the associated ‘crossings’ availed to language users all would appear to be confirmed and even intensified in the time period since. Above all, the latterly massively increased mediatisation of language, its visualisation and in particular the digitalisation of social communication on a global scale have led to a re-shaping of social heteroglossia/polyphony as a contextually constructed multimodal and multi-media total-communicative event in which multilingual discourse spaces flourish. At the same time, the affordances (and constraints) of the digital medium itself has led to a sociocultural re-positioning of the languages which constitute the linguistic resources employed in such exchanges, not least with regard to ‘English’ in this respect. By adducing relevant research worldwide the paper will examine the role that anglophony as anglography now fulfils as both a codal and modal resource in online multilingual discourse.