#GlockeAktiv: A corpus linguistic study of German youth language on YouTube

Cotgrove, Louis A (2022) #GlockeAktiv: A corpus linguistic study of German youth language on YouTube. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis is a corpus linguistic investigation of the language used by young German speakers online, examining lexical, morphological, orthographic, and syntactic features and changes in language use over time. The study analyses the language in the Nottinghamer Korpus deutscher YouTube‐Sprache ("Nottingham corpus of German YouTube language", or NottDeuYTSch corpus), one of the first large corpora of German‐language comments taken from the videosharing website YouTube, and built specifically for this project. The metadatarich corpus comprises c.33 million tokens from more than 3 million comments posted underneath videos uploaded by mainstream German‐language youthorientated YouTube channels from 2008‐2018.

The NottDeuYTSch corpus was created to enable corpus linguistic approaches to studying digital German youth language (Jugendsprache), having identified the need for more specialised web corpora (see Barbaresi 2019). The methodology for compiling the corpus is described in detail in the thesis to facilitate future construction of web corpora. The thesis is situated at the intersection of Computer‐Mediated Communication (CMC) and youth language, which have been important areas of sociolinguistic scholarship since the 1980s, and explores what we can learn from a corpus‐driven, longitudinal approach to (online) youth language. To do so, the thesis uses corpus linguistic methods to analyse three main areas:

1. Lexical trends and the morphology of polysemous lexical items. For this purpose, the analysis focuses on geil, one of the most iconic and productive words in youth language, and presents a longitudinal analysis, demonstrating that usage of geil has decreased, and identifies lexical items that have emerged as potential replacements. Additionally, geil is used to analyse innovative morphological productiveness, demonstrating how different senses of geil are used as a base lexeme or affixoid in compounding and derivation.

2. Syntactic developments. The novel grammaticalization of several subordinating conjunctions into both coordinating conjunctions and discourse markers is examined. The investigation is supported by statistical analyses that demonstrate an increase in the use of non‐standard syntax over the timeframe of the corpus and compares the results with other corpora of written language.

3. Orthography and the metacommunicative features of digital writing. This iii iv analysis identifies orthographic features and strategies in the corpus, e.g. the repetition of certain emoji, and develops a holistic framework to study metacommunicative functions, such as the communication of illocutionary force, information structure, or the expression of identities. The framework unifies previous research that had focused on individual features, integrating a wide range of metacommunicative strategies within a single, robust system of analysis.

By using qualitative and computational analytical frameworks within corpus linguistic methods, the thesis identifies emergent linguistic features in digital youth language in German and sheds further light on lexical and morphosyntactic changes and trends in the language of young people over the period 2008‐2018. The study has also further developed and augmented existing analytical frameworks to widen the scope of their application to orthographic features associated with digital writing.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: McLelland, Nicola
Walsh, Olivia
Keywords: youth language, online language, CMC, DMC, German language, sociolinguistics, YouTube, corpus linguistics, digitally-mediated communication, computer-mediated communication, metacommunication, syntax, lexis, morphology, orthography, language change
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and literature > PF West Germanic
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 69043
Depositing User: Cotgrove, Louis
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 04:41
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 04:41
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/69043

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