Shifting Boundaries in a Multilingual Context: The Case of Tunisian Social Media Network Writing

Abderrazak Ben Hamida & Dr. Hatem Haddad,

iCompass, Tunisia

With the advent of new technologies, and the global spread of social media networks as a dominant and powerful medium of communication and interaction, new trends and phenomena, relevant to sociolinguistics and language communication are emerging. In fact, observing social media language nowadays sheds light on the nature of these new developments, their impact on established sociolinguistic concepts, as well as on the shifting nature of productive language skills. In the multilingual context of modern Tunisia, the pervasive use of social media, displays interesting and complex linguistic manifestations characteristic of an Arabic-French bilingual community; in addition to its endemic Arabic diglossia. These developments are a challenge to computational linguistics. In this paper, we will focus on the use of writing in social media networks by the Tunisian community. We will revisit the relevant sociolinguistic concepts of diglossia and bilingualism, and attempt to demonstrate the shifting boundaries between Speaking and Writing, as users adopt new communication strategies to express their feelings, attitudes and opinions within a growing digital community. The data collection and analysis carried out with the collaboration of iCompass confirm these shifting sociolinguistic boundaries, and more permeable boundaries between speaking and writing. We expect to highlight new areas for research in linguistics, language teaching, in addition to offering solutions, in the context of regional dialects, to challenges facing computational linguistics applications dealing with sentiment analysis, churn identification and Chatbots.

The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Fourth Annual International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature (WWW.LLLD.IR), 1-2 February 2020, Iran-Ahwaz.