Free Essay

Slexipedia: Word Formation and Social Use

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ashyviper
Words 11436
Pages 46
Slexipedia: Word Formation and Social Use

3.1 Introduction

In his publication A Glossary of Netspeak and Textspeak David Crystal blended the two words lexiconand encyclopaediato form lexipedia, a word he used to describe the nature and purpose of his publication as "a cross between a dictionary (lexicon) and an encyclopaedia" (Crystal, 2004: vii). For each term in the glossary there is information one would look up in a dictionary, and the sort of knowledge one would expect to find in an encyclopaedia, such as an etymology of the entry and a hint of its sociolinguistic use. For example:

newbie A newcomer to a chatgroup or virtual-world environment, especially one who has not yet learned the way to behave when participating in the dialogue. >>chatgroup; netiquette; virtual world (Crystal, 2004: 79)

The coinage of the neologism Slexipedia compounds the acronym SL with lexipedia to provide a term to describe the Second Life-specific lexis in my corpus. In addition to providing a SL glossary according to Crystal's method (Appendix X), this chapter investigates the creative and innovative word-formation processes of SL English and Arabic vocabulary by its residents. Since use of vocabulary reflects identity (Crystal, 2001; Benwell and Stokoe, 2006; Boellstorff, 2008), the final concern of this chapter is the manner in which these SL terms are used in conversational interaction inworld, to reflect the social purposes and circumstances in which these words are utilized. Forming a coherent slexipedia will provide more insight for forming an account of SL identity, or Slidentity.

It is argued by myself that communication in SL shares many attributes with internet chat, as they are both forms of CMC. However, with the influence of the virtual surroundings having graphic qualities, and the capability of communicating using both verbal and non-verbal strategies such as eye contact, gestures, body posture and facial expressions (Pojanapunya and Jaroenkitboworn, 2011), the language of SL becomes unique in this fact and develops its own attributes.

Compared with other text-based forms of communication in virtual worlds with similar chat applications, this type of communication provides users with more vivid verbal and non-verbal interaction through avatars' expressions and postures. With their 3D digital bodies, users can socialize and perform various activities that bear a very close resemblance to those in the real world. Through this medium, the language and the way SL participants communicate with each other are likely to have certain characteristics. (Pojanapunya and Jaroenkitboworn, 2011: 3592)

It is these characteristics that this study researches regarding their role in the formation of a virtual identity. Second Life gives its users a plethora of so-called freedoms with the purpose of it being a form of anti-reality. Language is merely one of these freedoms. Learning the specific SL code is part of the SL group membership process, as it leads to sense of belonging and affiliation, and also distinctiveness between group and non-group members. In order for any user to be considered a Resident by other Residents (purely socially and by no means technically as every user is considered a Resident by the program), that person has to become familiar with and practice using SL code. A competent user of SL code, in whatever language it may be communicated in, is placed higher up the SL virtual identity hierarchy and perceived by other residents as a well-established resident and not a noob - a user that is new and unfamiliar with the ways of SL. There are, of course, a number of non-linguistic factors that affect group acceptance like not dressing like a noob and having a sophisticated avatar, rather than the one provided by Linden Lab to a user when he/she first opens an account.

3.2 Word Play
Since Second Life is ideologically based on freedom and creativity, an escape from the constraints of reality and freedom to act as one pleases, as in the website definition "Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined and created by its Residents" (, 2010), it is only natural for dwellers of this virtual world to develop their own linguistic code. Sometimes it is the nature of the virtual world that requires for there to be certain site-specific terminology. Instances of such reference in Second Life include the SL currency known as the linden dollar (L$) and the means of transportation between worlds and lands, which is teleportation (TP). As can be seen in these examples, there is a tendency to form acronyms. Also, being a form of synchronous computer-mediated communication, the language in Second Life is influenced by Netspeak (Crystal, 2001) and Textspeak (Crystal, 2004) regarding its brevity, grammatical tolerance and graphicality (giving texts a graphic appearance mostly for decorative purposes or to convey a particular meaning). For instance, in example 1, Cherrie Pie graphically enhances her comment with colons, a graphic heart and capitalization, following it up with a vocalization that is extended and elaborated with alternating upper and lower case characters.

1. < PCbbMAY11.CC>
[16:13] CHERRIE PIE (cherrie.clowes): ::::::: I ❤ THIS T U N E ! ! ! ::::::: HOoOoOUlalalala :)

This graphicality is clear as the heart shape substitutes the word 'love', and the fluctuating capitalization and decapitalization of the 'o' letter shows graphical language play, therefore indicating an expression of happiness on the part of the interlocutor. These graphic norms of the language of chat are practiced in SL, but there are a number of additions that are site-specific to SL and it is these that are the interest of this chapter. New vocabulary items have emerged, some in the form of neologisms (e.g.), others semantic extensions of existing terminology such as lag (provide gloss) and rezz (provide gloss and refer to example 2). These are all forms of how it is possible to play with language in an environment which not only comprises but encourages language play.

2. < AVSWhomeOCT10.SC>

[17:20] Ashy Viper: cant you see snow?
[17:20] Stacey Woodrunner: no i am not fully rezd

These examples demonstrate the various forms of language play:

a. the use of acronyms and initialisms such as rofl (rolling on the floor laughing),
3. <>

[11:46] Nisdatracer Venom: wooo!
[11:46] Arkadasim Engineer: *~*~rofl*~*~

b. expressing one's emotional responses by the use of graphical emoticons such as  for happy,  for sad and :D for laughing.

4. <>
[11:15] Arkadasim Engineer: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! :D :p :D :p :D

c. Capitalization for loudness or emphasis,
5. < VWERxmasprtyDEC10.CC>
[15:17] Anetha Gyranaut: never knew you could have it WITHOUT booze!!!!

d. Creative graphic prolongation and extension of the spelling of words for prosodic effect to show emphasis.
6. < PClonukMAY11.CC>
[17:16] Blonde (blonde.avon): awwwwwwww

Welcome him!
Welcome hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!

In 6, we see extension of the letter 'w' which represents a prolonged pronunciation of the word aw to express sympathy or admiration. The capitalization of the whole word in 5 clearly emphasises that word, and in 4, we see in addition to the extension, alternating emoticons expressing laughter (:D) and cheek (:p), indicating cheeky laughter. Similar cases can be found amongst Arab residents in Second Life. In 7 we see the prolongation of the final vowel in /welkəmu:::::::::/and hence its equivalent in the three tier transcription and translation method. What also can be seen in this example is the fact that this is the English word welcome with the Arabic morphemes [/u:/you pl.] and [/hu/him] affixed to it, though the full Arabic form is /welkəmu:hu/ in which the [him] morpheme is fully formed rather than elipted, as in the SL form. Mixed-code and cross language agglutination is a common feature of SLArabic – the particular type of Arabic used in Second Life – with English being the lingua franca in SL. Cross-language agglutination is not uncommon, neither is it unexpected in SL, although it is a linguistically significant phenomena worthy of research. There are many cases of English words having Arabic morphemes attached to them in my corpus, especially in cases of:

• plurality /la:nd-a:t/ (lands),
• determination /'al-mayk/ (the-mic),
• preposition /fil-riel/ (in real(life)),
• and possessiveness /staiyl-ak/, (your style).

Holes states that “The principle of Arabic derivational morphology is that of root and pattern.” (Holes, 1995; 81). What we witness here is that the English words are treated in the same way as Arabic root words (or base morphemes), and thus the possibility of adding inflectional and derivational morphemes is created.

Cross-language morpheme agglutination, graphicality, capitalization and acronymy are all instances of language play that is characteristic of Second Life. This playfulness has led to the unique formation of new words. Some of these words are formed in the known and well-documented word-formation processes such as acronymy, while others are quite innovative in their word formation technique, either being SL-specific or bringing together two languages in one word as in the case of SLArabic.

3.3 Slexipedia - Word Formation

Word formation is the study concerned with the origin of words and how new words are coined and invented. Many scholars of morphology, lexical semantics and etymology have been interested in word formation processes (e.g. Adams, 1973; Bauer, 1983; Durkin, 2009; Katamba and Stonham, 1993; Lieber, 2004; Stageberg, 1981). Bauer (1983: 7) claims that "any discussion of word-formation makes two assumptions: that there are such things as words, and that at least some of them are formed". Bauer's two main branches of morphology, inflectional morphology and word formation, serve us well here. Inflectional morphology is the branch of morphology that "deals with the various forms of lexemes", while word-formation "deals with the formation of new lexemes from given bases" (Bauer 1983: 33). Figure 1 shows Bauer’s classification of word formation into two types, derivation and compounding, with derivation composed of class maintaining and class changing forms, and compounding identified according to the word class of the resultant compound form, limiting it to only nouns, verbs and adjectives.

INFLECTIONAL (deals with forms of individual lexemes) CLASS-MAINTAINING




(Figure 1 – Bauer, 1983: p. 34)

Stageberg (1981) classifies eleven types of word formation process, including both compounding and derivation as the main processes, but adding the processes in figure 2: DERIVATION (affixation) - disadvise COMPOUNDING - breakfast ECHOISM - clang, hiss CLIPPING - prof, mic WORD-FORMATION BLENDING - smog, flunk BACK-FORMATION - singer, edit FOLK ETYMOLOGY - coleslaw, cockroach
REDUPLICATION - lovey-dovey INVENTION - nylon ANTONOMASIA - sandwich, hamburger ACRONYMY - MP, NATO

(Figure 2 – word formation processes with examples from Stageberg, 1983.) Scholars (such as Adams, 1973; Durkin, 2009; Katamba and Stonham, 1993; Lieber, 2004) who have worked in this field have similar taxonomies regarding the types of word formation, and all agree on compounding and derivation (or affixation) as the main processes. However, Stageberg's 1981 taxonomy will be used here as it is clear and has eleven different categories of word formation processes. Not all of Stageberg’s categories will be given attention as some are irrelevant regarding the data in my corpus, only those that appear in the data shall be discussed. However, some word formation processes will be added and their discussion also cherished until a later stage. Table 1 summarizes Stageberg’s word formation processes that are discussed with his examples and example words taken from the Second Life corpus.
Table 1: Stageberg’s Word formation processes
Process Stageberg examples SL examples
Compounding Cornflakes, smalltalk, darkroom, brother-in-law, player-manager, high school, hang glider Full prim, inworld, Rez Day
Derivation Teleplay, coachdom, counsellorship Tpd, tp'd, tping, rezd, rezzing, laggy
Clipping Lab, dorm, prof, exam, math Alt, AV, perm, rez, sim, resi
Acronymy and Initialism Radar, MP, NATO, UN, UNESCO, OK SL, RL, SLT, L$, MOTD, AFK, TP, LM
Blending Gasohol, smog, flunk Machinima,
Back-formation Peddle, beg, swindle, edit

I begin with the two processes clipping and acronymy as a way of introducing some of the new words in their base form that SL has brought to the English Language, and then move on to discuss their various derivations and compounded forms in other formation processes such as derivation and compounding . The reason is that the frequency of the words is higher when they appear in their base form and derived and compounded forms of these words are less frequent in the corpus. Accompanying each word will be an analytical discussion of the word’s frequency, distribution and use in context. An analysis of how these words are utilized in conversation provides insights towards forming an account of the features of virtual identity in Second Life.

A glossary has been formed of ‘new’ words that have come into use in SL in English and Arabic. By new, the researcher refers to the fact that they are either completely new formations that have established themselves in SLEnglish and/or SLArabic, or they are existing words that have experienced significant semantic or pragmatic alteration in the way they are used in context, usually in a way specific to SL. This section is concerned with presenting an account of how the entries in the SL Glossary (See Appendix X) are used in social circumstances, with the aim of discussing their role in the formation of a virtual identity. The glossary entries are organised alphabetically and also proceeding from the term that occurs most frequently (and its derivations) to that which occurs least frequently.

3.3.1 Clipping
"Clipping means cutting off the beginning or the end of a word, or both, leaving a part to stand for the whole. The resultant form is called a clipped word. […] Clipping results in new free forms in the language and sometimes in the creation of new morphemes," (Stageberg, 1981: p. 122). Some of Stageberg's examples are disco (from the source discotheque), deli (delicatessen), memo (memorandum) and chute (parachute). As brevity is a characteristic of Netspeak and any other form of online CMC, and clipping leads to economized forms of the source word, it is only natural that Second Life has brought us words such as av, alt, perm, prim, rez, and sim in English and/sakan/ (provide gloss) and /ri:l/ (provide gloss) in Arabic.Alt is a clipped form of the word alternative, used to refer to a Second Life user's alternative account. Av is a clipped form of the word avatar which is the graphic representation of a person when engaged in Second Life or any virtual world for that matter. Perm is short for 'permissions', particular to objects in Second Life and the specific permissions of that object, that is whether they are allowed to be sold, transferred, modified or copied. The word rez means toappear in Second Life, and refers not only to the appearance of avatars in Second Life, but the whole process of loading the avatar's surrounding environment. It is a clipped form of the source word resurrect. A specific region in Second Life, or rather the software behind simulating one or more regions is called a sim, clearly short for simulator. Here we present some examples to show how these words appear in the corpus followed by a more systematic discussion of each lexeme separately. Avatar / AV / avi / avie

Every Resident is virtually embodied by an avatar. Crystal (2004: p. 11) defines avatar as "The onscreen visual identity adopted by someone entering the environment of a virtual world". Avatars are however "not just abstract anchors of virtual perspective; they [are] the modality through which residents experience virtual selfhood" (Boellstorff, 2008: p. 129). In Second Life, people are avatars. One's most valuable belonging, it can be said, is one's avatar, the means by which one is represented to others. A salient feature of virtual worlds in general is that users have total control over their form of self-representation. "In Second Life embodiment could be changed for free, as often as one wished" (Boellstorff, 2008: 129). As Crystal implies in his definition, avatars also play a part in reflecting durable aspects of a person's identity. One can distinguish an established Resident from a noob just by looking at that person's avatar, as the latter is given a standard starting avatar at the opening of an account, and then usually goes on to change that avatar into a shape of their choosing. The linguistic representation of the two categories also reflects their status. Established users in SL who are somewhat settled and have become familiarized with the ways of SL and act and speak accordingly are referred to as “Residents” with the intentional capital ‘R’, whereas newcomers to SL who still have a lot of learning to do are known as noobs, which is somewhat colloquial and hence the change in register reflects the difference in status; one being elevated and the other rather low or deemed unworthy and even refused by the virtual society. Many people consider Second Life not to be a video game and it is partly avatars that "make virtual worlds real, not actual: they are a position from which the self encounters the virtual" (Boellstorff, 2008: p. 129) and hence deemed important in all its aspects, physical and representational regarding how it is referred to.

In the corpus, the word avatar takes more than one form, as is the playful nature of the language of Second Life and the nature of variation in human communication. The variants are: avatar (full form), AV (clipping), avi and avie (clippings with two variants of the diminutive morpheme –y). Clipped forms are expected such as av, as too are pet names with the diminutive endings like avi and avie. These variants all appear in the corpus and are distributed amongst different genres of conversation in a way shown in table 2 below.

Distribution of the realizations of Avatar
Glossary Entry Total CC AD INT

Avatar 44 3 40 1
Av 24 16 6 2
Avi 12 10 0 2
Avie 4 3 1 0
Table 2
The full form avatar occurs more frequently than any one of its clipped versions, but altogether, there are 44 occurrences of the full form and 40 of the various clipped forms, so they are similar in quantity but differ in distribution across the population of the corpus. Out of 44 occurrences, avatar is mentioned 41 times in formal settings; 40 of which in academic discussions and once in an interview setting. It is only mentioned 3 times in casual conversation, whereas if one looks at the majority of the occurrences of the clipped and nicknamed forms av, avi, and avie, their informal nature places them among the norms of casual conversation in informal surroundings. The word avatar has the clipped form av which is comprised of a single syllable ending in a voiced consonant. It occurs in the corpus in the modified forms avi and avie. Although these two forms, which occur 12 and 4 times in the corpus respectively, aren’t as frequently used as the 24-time-occurring av, they are of noticeable and therefore linguistically noteworthy existence. In Example 8 we see the word in use (underlined) in a multi-party conversation.

[16:12] Vici Martynov: dated a resident twice
[16:12] Ashy Viper: ooooh how did that work out?
[16:12] Vici Martynov: it fell apart when he admitted that in SL he was a lesbian
[16:12] Ashy Viper: but you knew him in SL before RL right?
[16:12] Vici Martynov: i met him at cloud 9
[16:13] Vici Martynov: said he lided in hampshire
[16:13] Aeralynn: lol
[16:13] Ashy Viper: and he wasnt a les then?
[16:13] Vici Martynov: lived
[16:13] Vici Martynov: he lived 5 miles from my mum
[16:13] Vici Martynov: anyway i met him down there
[16:13] Ashy Viper: female AV? ...
[16:13] Vici Martynov: then a week later again
[16:13] Ashy Viper: keep him away from your mum's AV then!
[16:13] Vici Martynov: no he had a great male avatar - best i ever saw
[16:13] Knightly Crescendo: the best? Taps a foot
[16:14] Niamph: haha
[16:14] Aeralynn: Giggles.....
[16:14] Vici Martynov: tyhen he admitted he only used that now and again to transfer stuff
[16:14] Vici Martynov: his main avie was female

Example 8 is a conversation which takes place in a club The word avatar appears once in its complete form with the other three occurrences being abbreviated. We can claim that as the first two occurrences are in the clipped form AV, and they precede the full form in the conversation with there being no signs of miscommunication, the other residents are familiar with this form and its use. As Ashy Viper asks the question “female AV?” and receives a negative reply with an emphatic structure, the resident Vici Martinov feels the need to use the unclipped form avatar to express the emphasis. When she later repeats the word in the last line in the example, she uses the diminutive form avie, hence showing us that she uses both the full and the diminutive form as part of her vocabulary, which clearly states that different speakers appear to have different preferences.
[17:49] Zachary Zufreur: customers who come into my shop
[17:49] Zachary Zufreur: one said "hi i like ur avi, u're cute"
[17:50] Zachary Zufreur: i replied "can u focus on my photos on sale?"

12. < VWERampitheatresMAY-JUL2011.AD>
Tayzia Abattoir: I am a total introvert, I flourish in SL, behind an avie and/or computer screen. In 11, Zachary is reporting on a conversation that took place between him and a user with a female avatar) In this example the avatar (avi)and you (u’re)coexist for the speaker, whereas in Example 12 the speaker sees their identity and the avatar as separate things, signaled by the choice of the preposition behind an avie. For this self-confessed introvert, SL allows her to “flourish” and paradoxically the mask of the avatar frees her from herself. Alt
Alt is another example of a clipped form, originating from alternative, referring to a Second Life user’s alternative account(s). It appears in the corpus 9 times across user types, as it is used in casual conversation and also in academic discussion. Some people claim that they have a ‘wild side’ and practice things that are even in Second Life to some extent socially unacceptable with their alternative account, with which they are unknown to their main account’s social circle. Other users simply like to experience the world (virtual world) differently through a different character bearing a different name and avatar, whilst still socializing with the same people and performing the same daily activities as in Example 13:

13. < AVHcreamy12AUG2011.IE>
[10:04] Haleigh: But this av is an alt
[10:04] Haleigh: And although I am not hiding who my main is
[10:04] Haleigh: The reason I've been logging on as her is because I associate my main with having certain relationships with people who hang at this club
[10:04] Haleigh: Whereas even though it's still me. And all my friends know it. I don't feel like I have the same um... expectations with this av

Realistically though, a logical reason is usually eventually revealed, and in Haleigh’s case, she lets her friend know that she is using an alternative account, but her reason being as follows:

13. (continued)
[10:05] Haleigh: And they all keep thinking I'm hiding from someone
[10:05] Haleigh: But I'm really not
[10:05] Haleigh: They look different
[10:06] Haleigh: But I'm still me
[10:06] Haleigh: And on my main I dated a guy in here for a few months. But we broke up. :(
[10:06] Ashy Viper: :(
[10:07] Haleigh: I feel more sad when I'm here on my main than on my alt. If that makes sense.

Here Hayleigh says “they [the av and the alt] look different/But I’m still me”. As complicated as the issue of identity already is (Benwell and Stokoe, 2006), one having a complicated real world identity and more than one virtual identity , having an alternative account makes a user feel and act differently. It is as if the user can reject the sad identity and only inhabit the happy one by choice. Their identity is multifaceted in the real world, and multiple in the virtual world. There are many more examples that further support this argument. ‘Jenny’ in Example 14 has a male alt, presuming in reality she is female.

14. < VWERampitheatresMAY-JUL2011.AD>
Jenny: I have a male ‘test alt’, but I rarely ‘use’ him

Jenny’s alt is a ‘test alt’ through which she conducts social experiments regarding gender issues that she has mentioned at the VWER meetings during academic discussions. The fact that she rarely uses him contributes to the fact that the alt has a secondary nature, and is used for purposes other than to live out one’s Second Life in the relatively ‘usual’ way. Examples 13 an 14 illustrate how users use alts differently. Boellstorff provides some good insight on alternative accounts reflecting on the questioning of the isomorphism between user and avatar. He states that alts are used for different purposes and categorizes them as follows:

- The banking alt: this alt is used for banking purposes to hold funds and transfer them among other alts, simplifying the work of bookkeeping.
- The building alt: Building is sometimes an arduous and tedious task and requires concentration and patience. Some users have an alt especially for building and scripting so as not to be deluged by ims from their SL friends.
- Testing alt: this alt usually has an intentionally standard body shape and is used to try out clothing and animations.
- Exploring alts: some people enjoy wandering anonymously across the SL grids exploring.
(Boellstorff, 2008: 132)

Boellstorff goes on to term the above kinds of alts as “escape alts”, since they all help “insulate residents from inworld social networks”. As in example 12 above, Haleigh wants an escape from the feelings she gets when ‘inworld’ in her main avatar. Boellstorff provides a similar example, stating that as he and friends were in a park (in Second Life) one day, an avatar named Mona approached and asked if she could ‘hang out’ with the group for a while. They agreed, mentioning that none of them had met her before, and she stated that the avatar she was using was an alt: “This is a spare alt I have only used a couple of times. I was out on a date from hell and had to get away. … this alt is my getaway” (Boellstorff, 2008: 132). She wanted to escape from the person she was with, without having to exit the program completely, so she logged out and back in with her alternative account information. That way, the person she wants to avoid has the impression that she is offline and cannot contact her. The titles given to the different types of alternative accounts, whether they are escape alts or building and banking alts, reflect the kind of isomorphic relationship between users and their avatars. Different isomorphic relationships, in turn, reflect different identities. Prim, rez, sim
The clipped word prim originates from the source primitive, and refers to the basic unit for building in SL. Everything is made up of prims. If one imagines a chair with a base, four legs and a back rest, each piece constructing the chair is made up of one shape and these shapes are put together to form the whole, hence a chair may be made up of 6 prims. This explanation is relevant here as often the word prim is used in conversations and discussions on subjects such as building, redecorating and buying a structure or an item of furniture. Prim has 46 occurrences in the corpus and all of which appear in one of the mentioned contexts.
15. < PBChereandthereOCT10.CC>
[19:26] Stacey Woodrunner: that fire place is 11 prims

Prim is often collocated with count as there is always a concern for the prim count; that is the amount of primitives allowed in a particular piece of land. My own land in SL for example, on which my virtual house is built, allows me to have 453 prims. I cannot go over this number, as the program automatically will not allow this.

16. < AVSWhomeOCT10.SC>

[17:48] Stacey Woodrunner: ok now do we have to watch our prim count?
[17:48] Ashy Viper: oh yeah I forgot
[17:48] Ashy Viper: uummm ...I think we have something like 250 prims or something
[17:49] Stacey Woodrunner: according to land permits you have 453 total
[17:49] Ashy Viper: actually its 453 prims
[17:49] Ashy Viper: yeah
[17:49] Stacey Woodrunner: we used 172 already


[14:36] Claudia13 Rossini: keep an eye on the prim limit Iggy...i used quite a few
[14:36] Ignatius Onomatopoeia: okies Claudia

All users who have experienced any sort of building, redecorating, or buying furniture and setting up a home in SL will be familiar with this term and will express concern when nearing the prim limit in a particular area. In 16, two residents are making a home, whereas in 17 academics who are members of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable reading and research group are preparing for a Christmas party. The use of this word is an indicative of in-group identity rather than being an act of creativity and language play. There is a shared lexicon which residents have, and prim is a word than doesn’t change in form or figure, but is rather part of the technical language of SL.

When one logs into Second Life, his/her avatar 'appears' or it is safe to say, 'spawns' inworld. The word rez originates from the verb to resurrect and in this context means to appear after a period of absence, that is going online after being offline. The use of spawn is very popular in video games, especially those of the combat genre, as every time a player ‘dies’ in the game, the character respawns. This term is not used in Second Life as it is limited to the spawning of the character, whereas rez is used to refer to anything appearing onscreen. The official Second Life glossary in the SL online help system defines the term in the following way:
Rez: To create or to make an object appear inworld. To rez an object, drag it from your inventory or create a new one using the Build window.
There are 66 total occurrences of rez and its 9 different spelling variants and inflections in the corpus as shown in table 3.

Table 3: Rez
Word Occurrences
Rez 16
Rezz 19
Rezzed 14
Rezzing 5
Rezing 3
Rezed 3
Rezd 3
Rezzin 2
Rez’d 1

In the table, one notices that rezz has more occurrences in the corpus than rez. Thus it would seem sensible to use the former as the main spelling for this section, but the SL official website prefers the latter way of spelling and have listed it as such in their ‘help’ section. Based on my own experience in Second Life, and evidence taken from the way rez and its realizations are used in the corpus, the definition above is rather limited. Rez is not just used to refer to the creation of objects or making them appear inworld from the inventory, nor does it only entail the resurrection of an avatar every time a person logs on or teleports inworld, but it is the actual appearance and loading of the world itself, that is the avatar’s surrounding environment, including buildings, furniture, landscape and other avatars. Examples 18-XX support this.
[19:25] LASHAY Viper: no its my connection
[19:26] LASHAY Viper: ok gotta go try rezz
[19:26] LASHAY Viper: brb
In 18 Lashay Viper is having problems with her connection and she uses rez to refer to the operation of logging out and then back in to Second Life as this is a common way of overcoming connection difficulties known as lag (see 3.?).
In 19Knowclue Kidd is referring to his own avatar fully appearing (rez could be replaced with appear, indicating this is a possible synonym), as the loading process sometimes takes time depending on one’s internet connection speed. A user sometimes first appears as a cloudy substance, slowly gaining shape while remaining a grey colour.
Knowclue Kidd: just waiting to fully rez… little sluggish
It is clear that the word rez is a clipped form (with some semantic shift from resurrect) and it means ‘to (make) appear in SL’. Its uses are specific to SL. While saying that something has rezzed in real life sounds strange, so does claiming that something has appeared in Second Life, and only a newcomer to SL would be expected to make that sort of ‘mistake’, as this would certainly imply that the user is not yet of resident status. This is underlined by the fact that the word appear only occurs twice in the SL corpus, once referring to an item appearing in the inventory, whilst rez refers to something appearing inworld. The second instance is in a context where it is synonymous with seem. The verb rez appears in many forms and in addition to its lexical meaning, it has the social connotations of reflecting an in-group identity of a resident belonging to the world of SL.

Sim is a clipped form of simulator which relates to sense 2 of the noun, as defined in the Online Oxford English Dictionary:
Simulator, n.
1. One who practises simulation.
2. A. a thing which simulates another. (

However, in SL the word is restricted to the region in which one’s avatar is present. A sim can be any sort of environment (urban, country, tropical, space, underwater, science fiction, horror … etc.). There are virtually no limits as imagination is the only limit to what kind of environment a SL resident can create. The word is used interchangeably with place, region, area etc.

[15:30] Claudia13 Rossini: Hattie.we keep a skating rink up year round on the Penn're always welcome to use it

[9:32] Jed Tylman: the magazine's name is AFK Magazine
[9:32] Jed Tylman:
[9:32] Jed Tylman: the main focus is business in sl
[9:32] Jed Tylman: mostly small businesses
[9:34] Jed Tylman: do you know how salaries are in sl?
[9:35] Ashy Viper: not really ...
[9:36] Jed Tylman: articles are paid L$0.5 per word, with a maximum limit of 1,000 words. So in effect $500 per article.

This was my first business meeting with an editor of a magazine that is issued in SL. He is informing me of the magazine’s focus regarding its contents and also how writers are paid. Since it was my first meeting, Jed Tylman felt the urge to mention “salaries in SL” so I don’t get the idea that I would be paid outside of the program.

Another genre of the corpus, which is not part of the conversational interaction, thus not subject to in-depth sociolinguistic analysis, but worthy of mention, is automated texts generated by the Second life program software. Cases where the program uses the acronym SL are relatively rare, with there being only 7 occurrences altogether. The full form Second Life does occur more frequently, with there being 29 automated responses out of a total of 61 instances of Second Life. The full form appears 28 times in the academic discussion portion of the corpus. This acts as a reminder to members of the VWER academic discussion group that it is a formal setting, and not totally encouraging of the use of forms of colloquial language such as clipped forms and Netspeak-like abbreviations and acronyms. In casual conversation, Second Life only occurs 4 times, emphasizing the fact that brevity is an attribute of CMC in general and in this case, SLEnglish in particular. Examples 41 and 42 below show an automated text and an instance of formal nature respectively.

41. from multiple occurrences in different files [2011/06/12 09:56] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and

Stanley Horsley: We established a Second Life support operation within our distance learning office
It can be added that there are also 61 occurrences of secondlife without a space between the two words, but this case is only present in the citation of URLs and in reference to websites as in 43 and 44 respectively.

43. ^.^< greatly
[16:30] Ashy Viper: how so, can you tell me?
[16:32] MrNasty Crumb: in rl i have bills and resondsabilty in sl i do as i please..i guess you could say that the role i play inworld is care free
[16:33] Ashy Viper: so no constraints
[16:33] MrNasty Crumb: none..i look at this as a rp game and thats it
[16:35] MrNasty Crumb: i dont drink
[16:35] MrNasty Crumb: i dont gamble
[16:35] Ashy Viper: but you do in SL?
[16:35] Ashy Viper: drink and gamble that is
[16:36] MrNasty Crumb: yesah >^.^< ...because there no repercushions for what i do here

MrNasty Crumb obviously distinguishes between the two worlds (54: line 4) and acts accordingly. He acknowledges that there are activities that residents take part in inworld that are perhaps socially rejected in reality. As a person with real life responsibilities pursuing a career as a construction worker, he knows that in his life gambling and drinking are unacceptable and perhaps hazardous and irresponsible. He cannot partake in these activities in real life and therefore pursues them in SL where there are no social constraints against them and certainly no repercussions. His statements that he doesn’t drink or gamble (lines 8 and 9) are somewhat linguistically ambiguous with the absence of the implication as to in which life, and hence the question is needed in the following line (10) to disambiguate the fact. The social use of the acronym SL is associated with freedom, escape, role-playing, deceit, perfection and anonymity, whilst RL is associated with social constraints, limitations, responsibilities, imperfection, laws, and consequences of actions of grievance. TP
Teleportation is the means by which avatars transport themselves from one sim to another, or within one single sim, like from one floor to another in a building and so on. There are sometimes teleportation devices that an avatar can stand on, click the remote and be teleported. There are landmarks (LMs) in the form of electronic cards that can be saved into one's inventory. Each landmark has a teleport option when opened, which enables any avatar to be transported to the specific location the LM represents. One of the most popular way of transportation however, is avatars teleporting other avatars. In the private chat window between two avatars there is a teleport option, which enables any avatar to teleport any other avatar to their location. So it is expected to see sentences like "shall I teleport you?" or "teleport me" in conversations. Although, previous evidence has shown us that extended forms are rather unpopular in casual conversation, with the clipped forms being preferred to them, table 7 compares the distribution of these two lexical items.
Comparison between the distribution of teleport and TP QTY Auto (2000) AC (47500) CC (127000) teleport 41 35 5 1
Tp 61 3 5 53
Table 7
The table shows the frequency of the lexical items and mentions the total word count for each genre along the top line. Clearly teleport is hardly used in casual conversation and present 5 times out of 47500 words in the formal setting of an academic discussion amongst academics from all over the world. The vast majority of teleport appears as an automated response where the SL program communicates to the resident every time a teleportation is made from one location to another (example 56). TP on the other hand is much more popular, as it is much more frequently used by residents and not the program. As can be observed in the CC column in table 7, it is the norm to say TP and not teleport in conversation(example 54). As for academic discussions (example 55), it is evident from the numbers that both lexical items are recognized as equally acceptable in an academic context.
[2011/06/12 18:45] Ayngel Resident: i got my kiss delux hud... do i want to send it from Stacey to me?
[2011/06/12 18:45] Ayngel Resident: it says i will lose it from my inventory
[2011/06/11 20:07] Arley Darkthief: the AO you have on now came with the shape you are wearing

This example shows that a HUD is actually an object that can be stored in a resident’s inventory. The animation override is actually ‘worn’ on one’s avatar.

Tayzia Abattoir: I have an LM for a wonderful Macbeth exhibit too if anyone would like it.

Tayzia is offering to give a landmark to anyone who would like to visit an exhibit she has discovered in Second Life. One notices the use of the indefinite article ‘an’ instead of ‘a’ as it is not only written in acronym form, but is supposed to be read in that way also, as opposed to being read as the word ‘landmark’, where it would require ‘a’ for its indefinite article as the pronunciation starts with a consonant phoneme.

[10:09] Petuniia: we have a walking box and it needs help..
[10:10] Petuniia: if anyone happens to see the name of the box..please im me..hahaha i cant catch it..
[10:11] Petuniia: did i really just say that??

Petuniia is asking people to send her an instant message if they are able to read the name on a moving box. IM here is similar to TP in that it is also a case of an acronym used as an imperative form of a verb.

Maria: If Linden Lab opened up to the metaverse, they could become the central hub that everything revolves around. If LL allowed the Linden Dollar to other grids, they’d become the PayPal of the Metaverse
In academic contexts Linden Laboratories are frequently mentioned. In the 190, 000 word corpus, LL is only present in the academic genre, which constitutes about 25% of the corpus whole. This statistic is less than 1/1000 word but it is subject-specific. In discussions about virtual education where there is a need for technical support and software issues, the designers and owners of the program are mentioned, especially when the academics have a request or a suggestion as in 60. Even here, because it is an academic context of a decent level of formality, the acronym is only used as an antecedent after the extended version (Linden Lab) has been mentioned for brevity. The Linden Dollar here is even in its full form, and later in the conversation is mentioned in another retracted form, before the acronym is used.

Prof. Dan: I use Linden $ with students during their orientation/scavenger hunt, offering L$ for those who do all of tasks.
Olivia Hotshot: ooooh interesting Dan…. using Lindens as a reward

In this context, the abbreviation used by Prof. Dan is clearly to avoid the possibility of causing ambiguity where the pronouns ‘it’ or ‘them’ would usually be used.
The final acronym in the list is SLT, and it simply refers to the time in Second Life.

AJ Brooks: The VWER meets each Thursday at 2:30pm SLT for an hour. We are considering changing our meeting day and time based on input from the community.

As Second Life has residents from all over the world, it is important to have one unified time. It can sometimes be confusing though when stating the time and not mentioning the acronym SLT:


[16:41] Ashy Viper: so what time's this wedding?
[16:41] LASHAY Viper: think around 9
[16:41] LASHAY Viper: my time
[16:41] Ashy Viper: 9SLT?
[16:41] LASHAY Viper: bout another hour it hink
[16:42] Ashy Viper: what time is it for you now?
[16:42] Ashy Viper: rl?
[16:42] LASHAY Viper: 7:41pm

Ashy is clearly confused in this example as to what time the wedding starts. Lashay states that it is 9 “her time”, but Ashy is not sure whether that means wherever she geographically lives in real life, or whether it is SLT. It turns out that her time zone in real life and SLT are identical (+8 GMT), and that is what caused the confusion and generated the question.

The acronyms specific to Second Life are not many. There are other acronyms listed in the online SL glossary, but we have only dealt with the one’s that appear in our corpus and are actually used by residents. Acronyms like ARC (Avatar rendering cost) and CG (community gateway) are rather technical and specific to technical use and not social use. These can be accessed at but are of no concern to us here.

3.3.4 Compounding
"Compounding is simply the joining of two or more words into a single word, as in hang glider, airstrip, cornflakes, busybody, downpour, cutoff, skywarn, alongside, breakfast, long-haired, devil-may-care, high school" (Stageberg, 1981: p. 121). As we can see, the compounded words can take three forms, separated, unseparated or hyphenated. In the Second Life glossary (see Appendix A) there are three instances of new words that are compounded which are inworld, full prim and rez day. 'Inworld' is clearly compounded from the words 'in' and 'world' and simply means being online in Second Life; being connected to the Second Life servers and present in the Second Life world. It also bears the meaning of referring to anything that takes place within the virtual environment of Second Life.

63. < AVNCleedsuniOCT10.INT>

[16:56] MrNasty Crumb: you cant go to work and say some of the things people say inworld

It is usually used as a contrast to the real world. Hence, by ‘work’, MrNasty Crumb refers to his real life occupation. The other two entries in this category are more complicated as they are formed by more than one process (see 3.4). Full perm, for instance,refers to the specifications of objects having full permissions, i.e. have the ability to be copied, transferred from one avatar to another, and modified. This compounded unit is made up of the free morpheme ‘full’ and the clipped form ‘perm’ short for permissions.

[2011/06/11 21:05] Ayngel Resident: And make yourself at home... that is our house
[2011/06/11 21:05] Arley Darkthief: damn, i didnt get a lm to it, i was too busy looking up stores and forgot
[2011/06/11 21:05] Ayngel Resident: ok i will tp you there

In examples 69-71 TP is treated as a verb with the past tense suffix in 69 and the present participle in 70. In 71, the base form of the verb is required as it follows the modal auxiliary ‘will’. Here we notice that the rules of grammar are generally followed, even though the past suffix in 69 takes the form of , as the resident perhaps sees this more appropriate since the suffix is attached to capital letters. In 68 however, TP is a nominal in the context “get those TPs out”, and it is in plural form, and acting as a request to teleport friends in to the location of the party.

3.7.2 Cross-language Affixation

We stated above that English is the lingua franca of Second Life. Second Life specific terminology is communicated in English even by non-English speakers, and we observed the cases of Second Life and real life. There are many borrowed words from English that are used by Arab residents (see borrowing, 3.X) like land, mic, rez, profile, welcome, design, blog, ban and so on. During communication, when the need for some of these words is present, Arabs don’t hesitate to attach Arabic morphemes to them, regardless of whether those morphemes are internal or external. Internal morphemes are the equivalent of bound morphemes in English, and they are usually inflectional such as the [s (pl.)]. External morphemes are those morphemes which in Arabic are attached to the word by affixation, but when translated into English, they are separate words, as in the case of the prefix /‘al/ in Arabic which is the definite article ‘the’ in English and can be prefixed to most nouns, and also the final /k/ phoneme representing an external morpheme which is the equivalent of the English possessive pronoun ‘your’. Examples of these words are:

Arabic English
/‘al-lānd/ - the-land
/maik-ak/ - mic(rophone)-your

In the transcription, the morphemes are separated by a hyphen, and the same method is followed to separate morphemes in the English transliteration of the words. In Arabic script however, there is no form of separation between the morphemes as Arabic has a cursive script, i.e. all the letters are joined to each other. Table 9 shows the English borrowed words in the Arabic corpus that have undergone Arabic derivations. They are ordered according to frequency and the table shows the transcription, translation, number of morphemes the word consists of, a list of the morphemes of each word, classification of the morphemes and the frequency in the corpus.

(see table 9 in separate file)

As we can see from the table, the most common combination of an English base and an Arabic morpheme is the (determiner /‘al-/the + noun) with a total of 133. This is innovation in word formation and it is taken a step further in the fact that 78 out of the 133 consist of common nouns, whereas 39 are a combination of a determiner and the acronym AO, and 16 are a determiner and the clipped form av. These new words have crossed into Arabic and not only are they recognized by Arab speakers as Second Life terminology, but they are used in innovative ways by the attachment of Arabic morphemes.

A: /ʾinti ṣāḥbat ʾal-lānd yā fūfū/
- you owner(fm) the-land oh Fofo
- Are you the owner of the land Fofo?
B: /ʾal-ʾay-ō māl-ak wāyid ḥilwa ḥarak-āt-ah/
- The-AO yours very nice movement-s-his
- Your AO’s movements are really cool.

C: /’‘ṭī ʾal-mayk li-ġer-ak/
- Give the-mic to-else-you
- Give the mic to someone else

SS: / ʾal-āv māli mā ‘ājibni/
- The-av mine not like-I
- I don’t like my AV

In 72, A is asking the question of whether Fofo is the owner of the land. There is no use of the Arabic interrogative word /hal/ which is the equivalent of the subject-auxiliary inversion in yes/no questions in English, as it is A’s rising intonation that makes it a question. A is not referring to any land, but rather the land that they are in, hence it has already been determined and the word land can have the definite article external morpheme ‘the’ attached to it. 74 is a statement in that B is complimenting someone’s AO (animation override) as that person’s avatar is moving in an eye-catching way. The use of the definite article with AO here is justified in the choice of the ‘your’ pronoun. In Arabic, your can have two forms, either as a separate word as we see in 74, or as an external morpheme attached to the word as we see in 78 below in the form of /k/. As an attached pronoun, the context would not require the presence of the definite article, and would be /ʾay-ō-ak/ [AO-your] translating your AO. Although, saying AO on its own would sound strange and not Arabic without ‘the’ attached and followed by the separate ‘your’, because the combination in fact translates “The AO that is yours”. The same case is repeated in 75 only in this instance a clipped form of the word avatar is as the base morpheme of the word which is a noun.

The second most frequent combination, although a lot less frequent than the first, is the English noun with the attachment of the Arabic sound plural /-āt/ having being frequent 26 times in the Arabic plural forms of prim, land and link.

B: /ʾal-sekən malyān land-āt lil-‘arab/
- The-second full land-s for Arabs
- Second Life is full of Lands for Arabs

SS: /‘aṭānī linkāt li-mawāqi’ ʾat‘allam fīha ʾal-bināʾ/
- Gave-he-me link-s for-location-s I-learn in-them the-building
- He gave me links to locations where I could learn how to build.

The Arabic sound plural form is added successfully in 76 and 77 to land and link respectively. In 76, there is also a mention of Second Life, which is expressed in English with the Arabic determination attached as an external morpheme word-initially.

There is also the [noun + pronoun] combination as in his profile, your style and your mic. This combination appears 23 times in the Arabic corpus. Here we notice that mic is a clipped form of microphone, but this is a well-known clipped form and not SL-specific.
D: /ḥabīb-i māyk-ak ʾijanen/
- Love-my mic-your makes-crazy
- Dude you’re great on the mic!

E: /šift škātib fi prōfail-ah/
- See-you what-write-he in profile-his
- Did you see what he has written in his profile?

The word /ḥabīb-i/ in Arabic is very common especially among the youth. It is quite diverse in its meaning. Its literal meaning is mylove and frequently used in courting, poetry and song lyrics. However, it also has other social uses between friends and even acquaintances in that it simply means friend or colloquially dude. It is also used frequently in compliments as in example 78, where D is complimenting someone’s style on the microphone as if he was some radio presenter. The collocation “your mic” here does not have a possessive meaning in such a way like ownership, i.e. the person speaking does not own the microphone. What is meant here rather is “your style/method on the microphone” is colloquially “driving us crazy”, i.e. it is great. In 79 we witness a simple addition of the final position possessive pronoun ‘his’ to the noun profile to express ownership
The last combination and least frequent, although not by a marginal difference, is the imperative form of the verb which already has the implied pronoun morpheme [you] combined with another pronoun as in welcome him and rez it. This combination is present 19 times in the corpus. Welcome is clearly not a Second Life specific word, but it is a custom in Second Life as part of the greeting process to welcome people, and especially welcome people back if they go offline for a period and return to the virtual world. As discussed at the beginning of this chapter, the welcoming process can be quite outstanding as the word /welkəmu:/(welcome him) not only appears in its normal form regarding its length, but there is frequently a version with a clear graphic prolongation in the writing of the text or the pronunciation of the word to show emphasis (example 7). Rez however, is an SL-specific word and one of our glossary entries. It is in form a verb, and therefore Arabs see it fit to use it in context as a verb with verbal affixes.

/rez-u hina xal-na nšūfu/
- Rez-it here let-us us-see-it
- Rez it here, let’s see it.

In 80, we see the imperative form of rez which already has the implied pronoun you and also has affixed to it the pronoun it as an antecedent of a previously mentioned noun (an inanimate object). By rez it the speaker is asking his interlocutor to make the object virtually appear on the ground in front of them so they can see it and use it for whatever purpose.

Affixation by inflection and agglutination, as has been observed in this section, is a common source for new words that have emerged from Second Life in both languages: English and Arabic. We have witnessed the combination of morphemes across languages, morphemes combined with acronyms, initialisms and clipped forms, which in turn have established themselves and have been treated as free morphemes. Another form of combination of morphemes involving free morphemes is blending and is discussed in the following section.

3.8 Blending

Stageberg defines blending as "the fusion of two words into one, usually the first part of one word with the last part of another, as in gasohol, from gasoline and alcohol" (Stageberg, 1981: 124). Another example is brunch blended from the first part of breakfast and the last part of lunch. In Second Life, a popular activity especially in education, is making short films and video excerpts called machinima which is a blend of machine and cinema. Users make movies in Second Life for various reasons like recording their virtual weddings or other ceremonies, or making educational or instructional videos for other users. Virtual medical procedures are often recorded as well as virtual engineering, design, and architecture videos. Also, videos are created for advertising reasons or just plain experimentation and enjoyment. The word machinima is one of the few blended forms in our corpus.

81. < VWERampitheatresMAY-JUL2011.AD>
Grizzla (grizzla.pixelmaid): I understand that Merlot is doing machinima with their virtual safaris, but I haven’t succeeded in finding any finished vids.

Being preceded by the present participle “doing”, machinima here is regarded as an activity by Grizzla rather than just an object, but the resulting recorded video is also named machinima as in the following definition:

"Machinima" is a neologism based on the phrase machine cinema. The term is used to distinguish between traditional animation techniques (which use specialized 3D animation software) and animation projects that record the action in real-time interactive 3D environments, such as single-player video games or Second Life.


Machinima is clearly a blended form, but its origins are not found in Second Life. There are however, words that have originated from SL and are formed by blending. Stageberg though mentions that blending involves two ‘words’ and making them one. One thing we have learnt from the language in Second Life is that it does not follow the rules of morphology that are known to us. The acronym SL has indeed become a word in the sense that it can be blended with others to form new ones. Words like SLEnglish, SLArabic, and SLidentity have been used by the researcher. It can be argued however, that these are forms of compounding and not blending since they don’t involve a reduction in the form of any of the morphological constituents. However, the word SLex involves blending the initialism SL with the word sex and refers to the activity of cyber-sex in Second Life. In the process, the initialism SL, pronounced /ɛs ɛl/, appears to become an acronym, in that it is pronounced /sl/ and blended with sex to become /slɛks/ not / ɛsɛlɛks/. It is a unique process of acronym-word blending as in Example XX (underlined).

82. < AVSWLVhomeDEC10.INT>
[19:18] Stacey Woodrunner: and gotta be thankful for the poses on the beds to help make that possible
[19:18] Ashy Viper: lol
[19:19] Ashy Viper: so that explains why alot of SL users are very much attracted by SLex
[19:19] Stacey Woodrunner: yes some even go further than the SLex
[19:20] Stacey Woodrunner: some bring it outside of SL and use yahoo or something similar.

When asked about relationships in Second Life, and the general appeal towards Slex, Stacey told the researcher that it is a very intimate process, depending on the power of the language involved. But, as in 82, she says some people take it further by using other forms of software that allows them to see each other through webcams and perform cybersex in its better known form.
Potentially any word can have SL added in initial position which adds the meaning ‘specific to Second Life’. SL is not a grammatically recognized prefix for the process to be categorized under 'affixation' nor does the blending abide by Stageberg's blending rule. Therefore I have coined the term SLization (S-L-ization) to refer to the process of compounding or blending the acronym SL to potentially any word, with the condition that that word either begins with a vowel, or the part of the word used in the blended form begins with a vowel in order for the blended or compounded result to be euphonious and pronounceable. Another form of word formation that involves the initialism SL is when it is compounded with URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to result in SLurl, during which the initialism becomes and acronym. This process of acronym compounding is also quite unique.

Professor Silverweb: What is the difference between an LM and a SLURL?
Ignatius Onomatopoeia: @Professor, a landmark is an inventory item, where a SLURL is just an address

Ignatius Onomatopoeia explains that a SLurl is just an address in Second Life, and differentiates it from a landmark stating that the latter is an item one can save in one’s inventory. The compounded acronym SLurl occurs 44 times in the corpus, 10 of which in academic conversation, and the other 34 in web-address forms as in 84.

84. < PClar's3AUG2011.IE>
[06:31] Teleport completed from
[06:31] The region you have entered is running a different simulator version.

This message appears as an automated response by the program upon completion of a teleportation. SLurl is mentioned in an address line, that looks like a URL web address, an is in some respects, but is actually an address in Second Life, which in this case happens to be Halsey Island.

3.9 Cross-language root formation

One final case where Second Life has been involved in the formation of new words that can also be categorized under SL-ization is cross-language root formation. As has been observed in the Arabic corpus, SL has been referred to as /sakan/, and we have seen the closer-to-English variation /sekən/, along with the addition of the external morpheme the. What has been reserved until now is the fact that the researcher came across an interesting case where /sakan/ became a root (base morpheme) that underwent a certain type of transformation. Arab residents used existing patterns of words of nationalism in Arabic to transform /sakan/ to a word which refers to themselves (meaning ‘residents’ i.e. “citizens of Second Life”). That word is /sakāynah/ and it coincides with /xalāyjah/ (people from the Gulf), /baġādlah/ (from Baghdad), /maṣārwah/ (from Egypt). This is a very innovative technique and can be found in the data as in Example XX.

A: ʾē min mata ʾinti fil sakən layf ya fūfū
- Yes. from when you in Second Life oh Fofo?
- Yes. How long have you been in SL Fofo?

B: m min ʾarbaʿ šhūr kiḏa
- Erm from four months about
- For about four months

A: ʾrbaʿ šhūr kēf ʾitʿarafti ʿalē-h
- Four months … how you know(fm) about it
- Four months … How did you come about knowing it?

B: m ṭarīg ʾaṣḥābi ʾal-sakāynah
- through friend-s-my the-seconders
- From my friends the second-lifers.

This last example is from a first encounter experience with a Saudi Arabian female who’s SL name is Fofo Mode. Whilst getting to know Fofo, the researcher asked her how long she has been in Second Life and how she was introduced to it. Fofo does not hesitate to say that she has been in SL for four months and she was introduced to it through her real life friends who were already in Second Life, hence she names them /ʾal-sakāynah/, i.e. the residents of Second Life.

3.10 Conclusion

The virtual world Second life has been a source for the formation of new words in the English language. Familiar word formation processes like acronymy, clipping and compounding have been observed in such words as SL, RL, TP, inworld, Rez Day, rezz, sim. Further new words have been derived from these words by adding derivational prefixes and suffixes such as the plural as in TPs and tense derivation like the cases of TP'd, and rezzed. Cross language derivation has been witnessed in which Arab speakers have added Arabic internal and external prefixes and suffixes have been added to English base morphemes such as /ʾal-lānd/ (the-land) and /rez-u/ (rez it).More new words have been formed through processes which haven’t been previously witnessed and documented by scholars in the field. One of the processes is the addition of the acronym SL to some words in initial position to add a meaning of “specific to Second Life”. This acronym has been compounded with other words (acronym-word compounding) in words like SLEnglish, SLArabic, and SLidentity. The acronym has also been compounded with another acronym to form words like SLurl and blended with the word sex to form SLex, a process the researcher refers to as acronym-word blending. The final process that was noticed was cross-language root formation and transformation. Arabs took their clipped version of Second Life /sekən/ and made it a root (base morpheme), and then performed a transformation according to a known linguistic pattern to form a word which denotes nationalism in /sakāynah/ which also in turn had the possibility of adding the determiner ‘the’ to it in the form of an external suffix.


Adams, V., 1973.An Introduction to Modern English Word-Formation. London, Longman.

Bauer, L., 1983. English Word-Formation.Cambridge, Cambridge University press.

Benwell, B. and E. Stokoe, 2006.Discourse and Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Boellstorff, T., 2008.Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human.Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Bratt Paulston, C., and Tucker, G. R. (eds.), 2003.Sociolinguistics: The Essential Readings. Oxford, Blackwell.

Crystal, D., 1991. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics.Oxford, Blackwell.

- 2001. Language and the Internet. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

- 2004. A Glossary of Netspeak and Textspeak. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press

Danet, B., 1998. Text as Mask: Gender, play and performance on the Internet. In: S.

De Klerk, V. and B. Bosch, 1997. 'The Sound Patterns of English Nicknames' in Language Sciences, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 289 – 301.

International Telecommunication Union,

Durkin, P., 2009. The Oxford Guide to Etymology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Herring, S., 1996 (ed.).Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Holes, C., 1995.Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions and Varieties. London and New York, Longman.
- 1999. 'Interactional Coherence in CMC'. In Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Jones (ed.) Cybersociety 2.0, London: Sage, pp. 129 – 158.

- 2001. Cyberpl@y: Communicating Online. Oxford, Berg.

Katamba, F., and J. Stonham, 1993.Morphology. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Lieber, R., 2004. Morphology and Lexical Semantics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Maybin, J., and Swann, J., 2006. The art of English: everyday creativity. Milton Keynes, Palgrave Macmillan.

Montgomery, M., 1995.An Introduction to Language and Society. London and New York, Routledge.

Palfreyman, D. and M. Al Khalil. 2003. '"A Funky Language for Teenzz to Use": Representing Gulf Arabic in Instant Messaging'. In: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Vol. 9(1).

Rouzie, A., 2001. 'Conversation and carrying-on: play, conflict, and serio-ludic discourse in synchronous computer conferencing', College Composition and Communication, 53, pp. 251-99

Stageberg, N. C., 1981. An Introductory English Grammar.New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Second Life,

Second Life Glossary, 2011.

Thurlow, C., L. Lengel, and A. Tomic, 2004.Computer Mediated Communication: Social Interaction and the Internet.London: Sage.

Wardhaugh, R., 2006. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Oxford, Blackwell.

Similar Documents