Sirpa Leppänen


Professor Sirpa Leppänen  

Professor, Head of the Jyväskylä unit
Tel: +358 40 80 53 201
Internal short number: 7210
Email: sirpa.h.leppanen(a)
Room: P 320

Sirpa Leppänen's publications


Mixed language and discourse in social media

In my research I focus on a number of mediated youth language contexts, or 'youthscapes' where a great deal of cultural, communal and identity work meaningful for the young and youth cultures gets done in ways which span the local and the global. A particular interest in my research has been mixed language uses involving Finnish and English as resources with which the locality and translocality of the particular youthscapes are negotiated.  From a discourse analytic and sociolinguistic perspective, I investigate discourse types which in different ways all involve the use of English in the context of interactions with social media. These data include multimodal discourse - YouTube videos - spoken interaction - video game sessions - and written text - fan fiction, weblog and IRC.

The different contexts demonstrate, first of all, that while Finnish continues to be the primary means of communication for Finnish young people, English is currently an increasingly important resource for them in a range of everyday settings in Finland. Secondly, it seems clear that media uses and language uses are closely connected, and that the use of English is often motivated by the fact that the mediated cultural practice or activity involves English in some way. Thirdly, my data illustrate the different degrees to which English, together with Finnish, is drawn upon by young Finns. In some contexts, the speakers/writers may select English as the code for communication; in others, they alternate between Finnish and English.

Play, transgression, identity work and normativity are endemic in mediated youthscapes.  The textual activities in them is often controlled play with parts – with bits of language and texts, textual patterns and genre conventions – disassembling and reassembling them for retextualisation and resemiotization. In essence, such texts are often both imitative and transgressive: their craft lies in creating recognisable versions of other texts while appropriating and subverting aspects of their language, style and discourse in ways that are deemed appropriate and interesting in the local and translocal social spaces of fan fiction. Further, they are performative practice through and with which social and cultural capital and identities can be ascribed. And like human communicative activities in general, they are shaped by a range of normative expectations, some of which are to do with more general aesthetic, cultural and social values and attitudes, while others are more specific to the cultures and sites with which they align themselves.