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A Linguistic Profile of Power and Identity in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

Friedline, Benjamin Earl (2009) A Linguistic Profile of Power and Identity in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Sociolinguists have claimed that a relationship exists between language and power. That being said, past studies addressing language and power have been concerned with issues of how language and power are created and maintained in face-to-face conversation (e.g., Brown & Gilman, 2003; Kiesling, 1996) and the role that institutions play in creating power roles and powerful language (e.g., Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 2003; Fishman, 2006). Kiesling (1996) proposes a framework for studying language and power in face-to-face conversation in which he theorizes that "people place themselves in certain power roles by using language to index these roles; however, every speaker cannot simply use any strategy or form to index any role. They are limited by ascribed traits, previous roles they have filled in the community, the roles available in the situation, and their competence in a certain strategy or form" (Kiesling, 1996, p. 41). The purpose of the current study will be to adapt Kiesling's power framework to the study of language and power within virtual communities in order to explore the following research questions: 1) How is power defined in World of Warcraft?, 2) What are the power roles within World of Warcraft?, 3) How does a player's use of language create or reflect the power role(s) that they occupy within World of Warcraft?, and 4) Can language be used to create power ex nihilo or does language use reflect the power that an individual has according to their power roles? The answers to these research questions reveal that participants within World of Warcraft have a variety of beliefs about power, power roles, and powerful language. Additionally, participants may use language to both create powerful positions and reflect powerful positions that they already have.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Friedline, Benjamin Earlbef25@pitt.eduBEF25
Date: 14 January 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 22 April 2008
Approval Date: 14 January 2009
Submission Date: 2 November 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: discourse analysis; game studies; language and power; online discourse; sociolinguistics
Other ID:, etd-11022008-165743
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:03
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:51


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