As English has gradually become the global language, users of this lingua franca find themselves constantly challenged and intimidated by a new wave of linguistic attack online known as “language shaming practices on YouTube.” Language shaming in general or English shaming in particular can be understood as any forms of interaction that degrade any certain ways of using language.
My MA thesis investigates English shaming in the context of Vietnam. More specifically, it aims to examine how Vietnamese YouTube users, by responding to a video of a Vietnamese beauty queen speaking in what is deemed “bad” English, articulate the existing local ideologies surrounding English in an era of globalization. Employing the theories of language ideologies and indexicality as the foci of my conceptual framework, I illustrate the discursive “shaming” processes by which Vietnamese users attribute new indexical values to English. In terms of research methodology, I apply notions from New Media Sociolinguistics on a macro-level and a three-phased inductive coding on a micro-level.
Findings indicate a complex network of first and second-order indexicalities associated with the role and status of English in Vietnam. Particularly, English is not merely seen as a popular foreign language (first-order) but may also serve as a powerful (second-order) index of: 1) education and intelligence level, 2) beauty queen standard, 3) national prestige, and 4) an imagined, superior globalness. These indexicalities are not independent of each other but subtly interwoven to form a complex of local ideologies revolving around English in Vietnam. They echo not only the attitudes towards the English language but further shed light on intricate discourses of education, intelligence, feminine beauty, banal nationalism and Western-centrism. Overall, the thesis provides an impetus for the problematization of Western-centric globalization and what is commonly perceived as “standard” English. It also discusses the role of new internet technologies—of which YouTube is a prime example—in affording a potential platform for articulating as well as observinglocal ideologies.
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