Although some people enjoy the global atmosphere, others may feel left out when major conversations are held in a foreign language. The social obligation of language choice becomes more subjective as people deal with context collapse. This uncertainly of appropriate language choice on SNSs led us to investigate factors that affect the language choice of multilingual users online.
In this project, we explore the language choice of multilingual Chinese and Korean students studying in the United States on Facebook. We survey the effects of collectivist culture, imagined audience, and language proficiency on their language choice.
Results show that multilingual users use language for dividing and filtering their imagined audience. Culture played two contrasting roles; users wanted to share their culture in English but share their emotions in their native language. Through this work, we hope to portray language choice not as a tool for exclusion but of consideration for the potential audience and adherence to one’s culture.
H. Kong, W. Wu, B. Bailey, and K. Karahalios. Culture, Imagined Audience, and Language Choices of Multilingual Chinese and Korean Students on Facebook, SocInfo 2015. pdf