Truan N.A.L. (2023), "I am a real cat" : French-speaking cats on Twitter as an enregistered variety and community of practice


Naomi Truan

Year: 2023

Internet Pragmatics 6(1): 67-106.

Keywords: cat-related language varieties; cats; community of practice; enregisterment; French; internet variety; LOLcat; LOLspeak; Twitter
Language(s): English

This paper is an exploration of the variety of French-speaking cats on Twitter. Among the many creative phenomena that the internet has produced, animal-related language varieties, the language used by pets, have been explored as early as the 2000s, yet with a strong and almost exclusive focus on English. I first describe the shared repertoire of lexical, semantic, phonographic, and syntactic features used by French-speaking cats, and show how the simultaneous use of a childlike code and a formal register constructs the sociolinguistic persona of cats as ambivalent animals. I argue that the French variety has become “enregistered” (Squires 2010) insofar as it is perceived and ideologically constructed as a variety of its own while promoting a welcoming culture towards new members. In doing so, cats show that the belonging to a community of practice, notably by drawing on a common repertoire of resources, does not need to be linked with processes of exclusion.

Post created by: Lymor Wolf Goldstein

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