Enacting Personal Identity Through Language: An Exploration of Some Profile Statuses of WhatsApp Messenger

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Journal of Communications, Media & Society
Technology in the twenty-first century has transformed the world in multiple exciting ways facilitating the rapid flow of information, capital and services across the globe. The constant evolution of new media has spurred the growth of multimedia affordances enabling people to assemble texts that integrate language with visual, aural, gestural and spatial modes. This digital revolution has transformed language by triggering an explosion of new vocabularies, genres and styles by reshaping literacy practices (Darvin, 2016). Digitization provides the technological basis for globalization and media convergence is a bi-product of globalization. In this study, I set out to explore the linguistic elements employed on the WhatsApp statuses of individuals who use the application to communicate messages to their readers and also to establish the connection between these linguistic elements and how they portray the identity of the users. Using Hyland’s (2005) metadiscourse strategies - stance and engagement markers as the analytical framework- the study comes out with conclusions that users of WhatsApp application employ three main metadiscourse elements: self-mention, realized through first-person singular and possessive pronouns (I, my) (stance), reader pronoun (you, your, we, our) (engagement) and directive as linguistic strategies to negotiate their identity on the status . They achieve this by directly focusing the message unto themselves and indicating special relationship with others to reveal to readers their (users’) guiding principles and philosophies in life. Directives like imperatives, modal obligation and predicative adjectives were used to pull readers into the discourse as participants and instructing them to perform an action which ultimately leads them to appreciate and share in the user’s ideas, worldview, experiences and orientation.
Research Article