Lecture: Posthumanist Approaches to Language in Digitalized Societies
Uncovering Ideologies of Voice Assistant Users (Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant)
What do the users think about their interactions with their voice assistants? How do they perceive Siri or Alexa – a person, a computer or something in-between? Is Alexa female or male? Does our perception change when we can carry some voice-controlled assistants in our smartphones, and some have a fixed place at home? I asked these questions to myself and my interviewees to explore the language ideologies and practices in digitalized societies. To translate this issue into contemporary practices that may influence and create new language norms, I take the perspective of posthumanist applied linguistics that emphasizes the cognitive distribution of language.
The presentation will be about an ongoing research project for my master’s thesis. The qualitative study that I am currently conducting aims to identify the language ideologies of voice assistant users. I will firstly introduce the two main fields that guide my thesis: language ideology research and posthumanist applied linguistics. These approaches should allow us to have a common ground for discussion and ask critical questions to our former definitions of language as well as their implications in current digital practices. The posthumanist perspective also aims to showcase that language is cognitively distributed, which pushes scholars to consider the external objects and environment during the analysis and interpretation process. Following the theoretical framework, I will present the current findings of my research that deals with the interactions of users with their gadgets, their perceptions and reflections. My focus group is currently set on Turkish speakers who reside in Germany. This sampling enables me to observe interesting uses of the speakers who are able to speak at least two languages fluently and mostly do not use these devices in their mother tongue.