The Pragmatics of Virtual Environments. Compliment responses in Second Life


The advent of the Internet has dramatically changed, among other things, the way people learn a language. With the new ICT tools, more and more users can interact with native speakers in their target language, potentially without ever moving from home. To this regard, virtual worlds appear to be a resourceful place where language learners can meet and practice their L2. However, while these virtual worlds are being increasingly employed for language learning purposes, they still remain a linguistically unexplored ground. But if the Internet has changed the way people interact, it is also plausible that the pragmatic norms underlying this new form of communication have changed; therefore understanding their literacy would help understand their efficacy too. This study sets out to fill a gap in the literature by looking at how compliments are responded in Second Life. The results are then compared with compliment responses in real life to find out whether the language used in virtual environments faithfully reproduces the language used in face-to-face conversation, and to what extent it is convenient and significant for instructors to integrate such environments in their teaching practices. The results show a greater tendency to accept compliments than in real-life conversation. Possible pedagogical implications and directions for further research are discussed.

Keywords: pragmatics; compliment responses; virtual environments; language learning

L’avvento di internet ha radicalmente cambiato, tra le altre cose, il modo in cui le persone imparano una lingua. Con i nuovi mezzi ICT, sempre più utenti possono interagire con parlanti nativi nella lingua d’arrivo, senza potenzialmente mai muoversi da casa. A questo riguardo/In questo ambito, i mondi virtuali sembrano essere un luogo pieno di risorse dove gli apprendenti di una lingua possono incontrarsi e praticare l’L2. Tuttavia, mentre questi mondi virtuali vengono sempre più utilizzati per l’apprendimento linguistico, rimangono ancora un terreno linguisticamente inesplorato. Ma se internet ha cambiato il modo in cui la gente interagisce, è anche plausibile che le norme sottostanti questa nuova forma di comunicazione siano cambiate; pertanto comprenderne il funzionamento aiuterebbe a comprenderne anche l’efficacia. Questo studio si propone di colmare un vuoto nella letteratura osservando come si risponde ai complimenti su Second Life. I risultati sono poi confrontati con le risposte ai complimenti nella conversazione reale per capire se la lingua usata negli ambienti virtuali riproduce fedelmente la lingua utilizzata nella conversazione faccia a faccia, e fino a che punto è conveniente e significativo per gli insegnanti integrare tali ambienti nelle pratiche d’insegnamento. I risultati mostrano una tendenza maggiore ad accettare i complimenti rispetto alla conversazione reale. Possibili implicazioni pedagogiche e indicazioni per ricerche future sono prese in considerazione.

Parole chiave: pragmatica; risposte ai complimenti; ambienti virtuali; apprendimento linguistico

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v7p37


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