Media linguistics is the linguistic study of language use in the media. It studies the functioning of language in the media sphere, or modern mass communication presented by print, audiovisual, digital, and networked media.
Media linguistics is being formed in the process of the differentiation of linguistics as a general theory of language, and is a sub-field of linguistics similar to other fields such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, developmental linguistics, legal linguistics, political linguistics, etc.
Modern media linguistics examines not only the written language of media, but also media speech. Media linguistics includes media speech studies that examine (1) the speech behavior of mass communication participants and (2) specific areas, textures, and genres of media texts. Media linguistics analyses texts, as well as their production and reception.
Thus, in principle, media linguistics seeks to explain the particular case of the functioning of language—in mass communication with its complex structure and changing properties—amid the overall trends of language and speech culture. It studies language in relation to medium-specific aspects, such as the specific properties of media texts or platforms, and sometimes includes analysis of multimodality. Other purposes include analyzing patterns of language use within certain historical contexts, and establishing differences between "normal" language and media language. Media linguistics is closely related to contemporary media practices and intends to impact on them, in particular, by means of media education. Studying language use in the media can be used to help develop critical media literacy, for example in relation to stereotypes.
Media linguistics includes the study of traditional mass media texts (typically, print or broadcast news) as well as social media and other digital media such as blog posts or SMS messages. Advertisements, amongst other multimodal media, are commonly analyzed in the context of media linguistics. The study of fictional film and television has recently emerged as an important area of media linguistics.
In recent years, media linguistics has been influenced by "transnational and translocal" communication and the relationship between a country's culture and its use of language.
Media linguistics provides that media is used as a source of historical and current data or research. It is critical in examining regional language and regional dialect models of media involving the portrayal of society and culture. Media linguistics is crucial in understanding how the media broadcasts language ideologies and is able to strengthen representation of a less common, minority language or maintain representation of a dominant language.
Sources of media language are used as learning material in second language courses given its ties to the language's culture and its surrounding context and its role in exposing students to native-speaker syntax and vocabulary.
Change over time
In the early 21st century, linguists are studying how "computer-mediated communication (CMC)" differs from older forms of media communication. While the level of interactivity between readers and writers remains the same, CMC shows increasing evidence of media attempting to gain more and more of their reader's attention.
The variables that have some of the strongest effect on how language changes over time are the number of speakers within a language and how connected they are to other speakers. This is especially evident within social media, which has the ability to connect many speakers of the same language. CMC also shows how people might form exclusive "groups" online, and form a sense of relatedness with these groups or other online users.
In different countries
- In English-speaking countries the terms media study and media discourse analysis are used, while interdisciplinary approaches such as Critical Discourse Analysis are often used to study news media. See, for example, Teun A. van Dijk's book News as Discourse. Some scholars have recently started using the term media linguistics, while others prefer the more narrow term media stylistics.
- In Germany-speaking countries the term Medienlinguistik is used, and the field is regarded as "one of the most dynamic fields of applied linguistics".
- In Russia, active usage of the term Медиалингвистика is associated with the publications of T.G. Dobrosklonskaya, where English media speech is investigated. Russian media linguistics is the successor of different linguistic fields, which were designated as and called "the language of newspaper", "the language of radio", "the language of media".
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- "Media Linguistics": a scientific web site: http://medialing.spbu.ru/world_of_medialinguistics/ and an international journal of the same name https://medialing.ru