The influence of Covid-19 pandemic emergency on the economy principle applied to Nigerian migrants’ ELF-mediated online interactions


This paper investigates the impact of Covid-19 pandemic emergency on the grammaticalization processes identified in a set of ELF-mediated online interactions produced by a group of Nigerian migrants residing in Southern Italy during the lockdown period in the early months of 2020. Case-study analysis illustrates how such interactions, though propositionally conveyed in writing, in fact come to be perceived with the same analogical immediacy as spoken language. Through such a hybrid mode of discourse, migrants give vent to their concern at finding themselves suddenly caught in a condition of anxiety and even more segregation. Case-study data demonstrate how migrants make a linguaculturally-marked use of novel forms of syllabic notations, acronyms, emojis, and phrasal verbs triggering unusual relexicalization and decategorialization processes which, indeed, challenge what has conventionally been considered as the natural course of language change, governed by the ‘economy principle’ at both structural and functional levels.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v39p179

Keywords: economy principle; grammaticalization processes; ELF-mediated online interaction.


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