The uses of multilingualism in digital culture : the case of inter-language linking

Petzold, Thomas (2011) The uses of multilingualism in digital culture : the case of inter-language linking. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Language-use has proven to be the most complex and complicating of all Internet features, yet people and institutions invest enormously in language and crosslanguage features because they are fundamental to the success of the Internet’s past, present and future. The thesis takes into focus the developments of the latter – features that facilitate and signify linking between or across languages – both in their historical and current contexts. In the theoretical analysis, the conceptual platform of inter-language linking is developed to both accommodate efforts towards a new social complexity model for the co-evolution of languages and language content, as well as to create an open analytical space for language and cross-language related features of the Internet and beyond. The practiced uses of inter-language linking have changed over the last decades. Before and during the first years of the WWW, mechanisms of inter-language linking were at best important elements used to create new institutional or content arrangements, but on a large scale they were just insignificant. This has changed with the emergence of the WWW and its development into a web in which content in different languages co-evolve. The thesis traces the inter-language linking mechanisms that facilitated these dynamic changes by analysing what these linking mechanisms are, how their historical as well as current contexts can be understood and what kinds of cultural-economic innovation they enable and impede. The study discusses this alongside four empirical cases of bilingual or multilingual media use, ranging from television and web services for languages of smaller populations, to large-scale, multiple languages involving web ventures by the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service Australia, Wikipedia and Google. To sum up, the thesis introduces the concepts of ‘inter-language linking’ and the ‘lateral web’ to model the social complexity and co-evolution of languages online. The resulting model reconsiders existing social complexity models in that it is the first that can explain the emergence of large-scale, networked co-evolution of languages and language content facilitated by the Internet and the WWW. Finally, the thesis argues that the Internet enables an open space for language and crosslanguage related features and investigates how far this process is facilitated by (1) amateurs and (2) human-algorithmic interaction cultures.

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ID Code: 49757
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hartley, John, Bruns, Axel, & Spurgeon, Christina
Keywords: languages, internet research, media studies, complexity research, language evolution, governance of languages on the internet, Wikipedia, television, Google, translation technology
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Apr 2012 02:03
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2012 01:38

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