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Card-index course

Linguistics : The Sociolinguistics of Cyberspace

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Arts

Teacher(s): Jennifer Thorburn
Lecturer(s): -

Validity: 2019 -> 2019

No timetable defined.


Autumn semester
2 hours per week
28 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): English
Public: Yes
Credits: 0


After successfully completing this course, student will be able to:
- Understand and apply essential sociolinguistic concepts and theories
- Engage critically with the literature on sociolinguistics and computer-mediated communication
- Assess and analyse a variety of digital materials/sources
- Demonstrate the relationship between data and theory
- Discuss academic argumentation and research in an informal setting using visual aids (e.g. hand-out, PowerPoint slides, poster, whiteboard) where appropriate
- Conduct ethical primary research
o Find a niche (based on existing research) and construct a focussed, realistic research question
o Interpret and summarize previous research for research papers and in-class discussion
o Select, adapt (if necessary), and apply an appropriate research method


The Internet and digital media have impacted nearly every aspect of modern culture, changing the way that we communicate, interact, work, learn, and more. As a result, computer-mediated communication (CMC) has become a part of everyday life. People are constantly connected, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are omnipresent, and new forms of communication spring up (and sometimes die), such as textspeak, leetspeak, emoticons/emoji.

With the advent of the digital age, we are also faced with new questions and issues. How do people behave linguistically and construct identities online? Do our online personas reflect our IRL ones? How can we define authenticity? Does digital literacy impact other kinds of literacy? Do so-called 'digital natives' make use of cyberspaces or engage sociolinguistically with technologies differently from previous generations? To explore these issues, students will debate the nature of ethics when working with digital material, issues of authenticity and identity, and the various ways we communicate digitally, as we cover topics ranging from studies of computer-mediated communication to ethical data collection to catfishing and trolling.


BA exams may be taken in connection with this class
(see special requirements for BA exams)


Readings provided on Moodle

Programme requirements

Introduction to English Language and Linguistics (IELL)
Development of the English Language (DEL)

Minimum B2

Additional information


Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15