Volume 12, Issue 5
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722



This article introduces the concept of the to explore how social meaning is indexed through the interplay of communicative resources at different levels of expression (from choice of media to individual signs) in digitally mediated interactions. The multi-layered polymedia repertoire highlights how people move fluidly between media platforms, semiotic modes and linguistic resources in the course of their everyday interactions, and enables us to locate digital communications within individuals’ wider practices. The potential of our theoretical contribution is illustrated through analysis of mobile phone messaging between participants in a large multi-sited ethnography of the communicative practices of multilingual migrants working in linguistically diverse UK city neighbourhoods. Our analysis of mobile messaging exchanges in a of these networked individuals reveals the importance of in shaping interpersonal interactions, as well as the complex ways in which choices at different levels of a polymedia repertoire are structured by social relationships, communicative purpose and (dis)identification processes.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Adami, Elisabetta
    2014 “Retwitting, reposting, repinning; reshaping identities online: towards a social semiotic multimodal analysis of digital remediation.” LEA – Lingue e Letterature d’Oriente e d’Occidente3: 223–243.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Agha, Asif
    2007Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Androutsopoulos, Jannis
    2008 “Potentials and limitations of discourse-centred online ethnography.” Language@Internet5, article 9.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 2015 “Networked multilingualism: some language practices on Facebook and their implications.” International Journal of Bilingualism19 (2): 185–205. 10.1177/1367006913489198
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006913489198 [Google Scholar]
  5. 2021 “Investigating digital language/media practices, awareness, and pedagogy: introduction.” Linguistics and Education62: 1–4. 10.1016/j.linged.2020.100872
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2020.100872 [Google Scholar]
  6. Artamonova, Olga, and Jannis Androutsopoulos
    2019 “Smartphone-based language practices among refugees: mediational repertoires in two families.” Journal for Media Linguistics2: 60–89.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bell, Allan
    1984 “Language style as audience design.” Language in Society13: 145–204. 10.1017/S004740450001037X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450001037X [Google Scholar]
  8. Blackledge, Adrian, and Angela Creese
    2018 “Interaction ritual and the body in a city meat market.” Social Semiotics30 (1): 1–24. 10.1080/10350330.2018.1521355
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2018.1521355 [Google Scholar]
  9. Blackledge, Adrian, Angela Creese, and Rachel Hu
    2017 “Translanguaging, volleyball and social life.” Working Papers in Translanguaging and Translation (WP19).
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Blommaert, Jan
    2010Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511845307
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511845307 [Google Scholar]
  11. Blommaert, Jan, and Ad Backus
    2013 “Superdiverse repertoires and the individual.” InMultilingualism and Multimodality: Current Challenges for Educational Studies, ed. byIngrid de Saint-Georges and Jean-Jacques Weber, 11–32. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 10.1007/978‑94‑6209‑266‑2_2
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-266-2_2 [Google Scholar]
  12. Boczkowski, Pablo J., Mora Matassi and Eugenia Mitchelstein
    2018 “How young users deal with multiple platforms: the role of meaning-making in social media repertoires.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication23: 245–259. 10.1093/jcmc/zmy012
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jcmc/zmy012 [Google Scholar]
  13. Bolter, Jay D., and Richard Grusin
    2000Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Bou-Franch, Patricia, Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, and Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich
    2012 “Social interaction in YouTube text-based polylogues: a study of coherence.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication17: 501–521. 10.1111/j.1083‑6101.2012.01579.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2012.01579.x [Google Scholar]
  15. boyd, danah
    2008 “Taken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics.” Unpublished PhD thesis, University of California, Berkeley.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Busch, Florian
    2018 “Digital writing practices and media ideologies of German adolescents.” The Mouth: Critical Studies on Language, Culture and Society3: 85–103.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Canagarajah, Suresh
    2021 “Materialising semiotic repertoires: challenges in the interactional analysis of multilingual communication.” International Journal of Multilingualism18 (2): 206–225. 10.1080/14790718.2021.1877293
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2021.1877293 [Google Scholar]
  18. Cohen, Leor
    2015 “World attending in interaction: multitasking, spatializing, narrativizing with mobile devices and Tinder.” Discourse, Context & Media9: 46–54. 10.1016/j.dcm.2015.08.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2015.08.001 [Google Scholar]
  19. Creese, Angela, and Adrian Blackledge
    2019 “Translanguaging and public service encounters: language learning in the library.” The Modern Language Journal103 (4): 800–814. 10.1111/modl.12601
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12601 [Google Scholar]
  20. Djonov, Emilia, and Theo van Leeuwen
    2017 “The power of semiotic software: a critical multimodal perspective.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies, ed. byJohn Flowerdew and John E. Richardson, 566–581. Abingdon: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315739342‑39
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315739342-39 [Google Scholar]
  21. 2018 “Social media as semiotic technology and social practice: the case of ResearchGate’s design and its potential to transform social practice.” Social Semiotics28 (5): 641–664. 10.1080/10350330.2018.1504715
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2018.1504715 [Google Scholar]
  22. Dovchin, Sender, Alastair Pennycook, and Shaila Sultana
    2018Popular Culture, Voice and Linguistic Diversity: Young Adults On- and Offline. London: Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑61955‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-61955-2 [Google Scholar]
  23. Fraiberg, Steven
    2013 “Reassembling technical communication: a framework for studying multilingual and multimodal practices in global contexts.” Technical Communication Quarterly22 (1): 10–27. 10.1080/10572252.2013.735635
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2013.735635 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gee, James
    2004Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra
    2017 “‘Friendly’ comments: interactional displays of alignment on Facebook and YouTube.” InSocial Media Discourse, (Dis)identifications and Diversities, ed. bySirpa Leppänen, Elina Westinen and Samu Kytola, 179–207. Abingdon: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Georgalou, Mariza
    2017Discourse and Identity on Facebook. London: Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Gershon, Ilana
    2010 “Media ideologies. An introduction.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology20 (2): 283–293. 10.1111/j.1548‑1395.2010.01070.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1395.2010.01070.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Goffman, Erving
    1982 “The interaction order: American Sociological Association, 1982 Presidential Address.” American Sociological Review48 (1): 1–17. 10.2307/2095141
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2095141 [Google Scholar]
  29. Gumperz, John
    1982Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511611834
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834 [Google Scholar]
  30. Harwitt, Eric
    2017 “WeChat: social and political development of China’s dominant messaging app.” Chinese Journal of Communication10 (3): 312–327. 10.1080/17544750.2016.1213757
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17544750.2016.1213757 [Google Scholar]
  31. Hine, Christine
    2000Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage. 10.4135/9780857020277
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9780857020277 [Google Scholar]
  32. Hymes, Dell
    1966 “Two types of linguistic relativity”. InSociolinguistics, ed. byWilliam Bright, 114–158. The Hague: Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Iedema, Rick
    2001 “Resemiotization.” Semiotica137 (1–4) 23–39. 10.1515/semi.2001.106
    https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2001.106 [Google Scholar]
  34. Ito, Mizuko, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr Stephenson, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Z. Martínez, C. J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, Christo Sims and Lisa Tripp
    2010Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Jones, Rodney H.
    2013 “Rhythm and timing in a chat room interaction”. InThe Pragmatics of Computer-Mediated Communication, ed. bySusan C. Herring, Dieter Stein, and Tuija Virtanen, 489–514. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110214468.489
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110214468.489 [Google Scholar]
  36. König, Katharina
    2019 “Sequential patterns in SMS and Whats­App dialogues: practices for coordinating actions and managing topics.” Discourse & Communication13 (6): 612–629. 10.1177/1750481319868853
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1750481319868853 [Google Scholar]
  37. Kusters, Annelies, Massimiliano Spotti, Ruth Swanwick, and Elina Tapio
    2017 “Beyond languages, beyond modalities: transforming the study of semiotic repertoires.” International Journal of Multilingualism14 (3), 219–232. 10.1080/14790718.2017.1321651
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2017.1321651 [Google Scholar]
  38. Lee, Carmen
    2007 “Affordances and text-making practices in online instant messaging.” Written Communication24 (3): 223–249. 10.1177/0741088307303215
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088307303215 [Google Scholar]
  39. 2014 “Language choice and self-presentation in social media: the case of university students in Hong Kong.” InThe Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet, ed. byPhilip Seargeant and Caroline Tagg, 91–111. London: Palgrave. 10.1057/9781137029317_5
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137029317_5 [Google Scholar]
  40. 2018 “Introduction: discourse of social tagging.” Discourse, Context & Media22: 1–3. 10.1016/j.dcm.2018.03.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2018.03.001 [Google Scholar]
  41. Leppänen, Sirpa, Samu Kytölä, Henna Jousmäki, Saija Peuronen and Elina Westinen
    2014 “Entextualisation and resemiotization as resources for identification in social media.” InThe Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet, ed. byPhilip Seargeant and Caroline Tagg, 112–136. London: Palgrave. 10.1057/9781137029317_6
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137029317_6 [Google Scholar]
  42. Lexander, Kristin V. and Jannis Androutsopoulos
    2021 “Working with mediagrams: a methodology for collaborative research on mediational repertoires in multilingual families.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development42 (1): 1–18. 10.1080/01434632.2019.1667363
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2019.1667363 [Google Scholar]
  43. Ling, Richard and Birgitte Yttri
    2002 “Hyper-coordination via mobile phones in Norway.” InPerpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance, ed. byJames Katz and Mark Aakhus, 139–169. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511489471.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511489471.013 [Google Scholar]
  44. Lyons, Agnieszka
    2018 “Multimodal expression in written digital discourse: the case of kineticons.” Journal of Pragmatics131: 18–29. 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.05.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.05.001 [Google Scholar]
  45. Madianou, Mirca
    2014 “Smartphones as polymedia.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication19: 667–680. 10.1111/jcc4.12069
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12069 [Google Scholar]
  46. 2015 “Polymedia and ethnography: understanding the social in social media.” Social Media + Society, April-June, 1–3. 10.1177/2056305115578675
    https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115578675 [Google Scholar]
  47. Madianou, Mirca, and Daniel Miller
    2012 “Polymedia: towards a new theory of digital media in interpersonal communication.” International Journal of Cultural Studies16 (2): 167–187.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Markham, Annette
    2004 “Internet communication as a tool for qualitative research.” InQualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice, ed. byDavid Silverman, 95–124. 2nd edn. London: Sage. 10.4135/9781848608191.d28
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781848608191.d28 [Google Scholar]
  49. Mavers, Diane
    2007 “Semiotic resourcefulness: a young child’s email exchange as design.” Journal of Early Childhood Literacy7 (2): 155–176. 10.1177/1468798407079285
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1468798407079285 [Google Scholar]
  50. Miller, Daniel
    2016Social Media in an English Village. London: UCL Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Miller, Daniel, and Jolynna Sinanan
    2014Webcam. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Nordquist, Brice
    2017Literacy and Mobility: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Agency at the Nexus of High School and College. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315641409
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315641409 [Google Scholar]
  53. Papacharissi, Zizi
    2010 (Ed.). A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203876527
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203876527 [Google Scholar]
  54. Pennycook, Alastair
    2018 “Posthumanist applied linguistics.” Applied Linguistics39 (4): 445–461. 10.1093/applin/amw016
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amw016 [Google Scholar]
  55. Pennycook, Alastair, and Emi Otsuji
    2015Metrolingualism: Language in the City. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315724225
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315724225 [Google Scholar]
  56. Richardson, Ingrid, and Larissa Hjorth
    2017 “Mobile media, domestic play and haptic ethnography.” New Media & Society19 (10) 1653–1667. 10.1177/1461444817717516
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817717516 [Google Scholar]
  57. Rymes, Betty
    2010 “Classroom discourse analysis: A focus on communicative repertoires.” InSociolinguistics and Language Education, ed. byNancy Hornberger and Sandra L. McKay, 528–546. Buffalo, N.Y.: Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781847692849‑021
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781847692849-021 [Google Scholar]
  58. 2014 “Marking communicative repertoire through metacommentary.” InHeteroglossia as Practice and Pedagogy, ed. byAdrian Blackledge and Angela Creese, 301–316. New York: Springer. 10.1007/978‑94‑007‑7856‑6_16
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7856-6_16 [Google Scholar]
  59. Scollon, Ron
    2001Mediated Discourse: The Nexus of Practice. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Spilioti, Tereza
    2019 “From transliteration to trans-scripting: creativity and multilingual writing on the internet.” Discourse, Context & Media29: 100294. 10.1016/j.dcm.2019.03.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2019.03.001 [Google Scholar]
  61. Su, Hua
    2016 “Constant connection as the media condition of love: where bonds become bondage.” Media, Culture & Society38 (2): 232–247. 10.1177/0163443715594037
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443715594037 [Google Scholar]
  62. Tagg, Caroline
    2012Discourse of Text Messaging. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Tagg, Caroline, and Rachel Hu
    2017 “Sharing as a conversational turn in digital interaction.” Working Papers in Translanguaging and Translation (WP29).
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Tagg, Caroline, Agnieszka Lyons, Rachel Hu, and Frances Rock
    2017 “The ethics of digital ethnography in a team project.” Applied Linguistics Review8 (2–3): 271–292. 10.1515/applirev‑2016‑1040
    https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2016-1040 [Google Scholar]
  65. Thurlow, Crispin
    2017 “‘Forget about the words’? Tracking the language, media, semiotic ideologies of digital discourse: the case of sexting.” Discourse, Context & Media10–19. 10.1016/j.dcm.2017.06.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2017.06.008 [Google Scholar]
  66. Varis, Piia
    2016 “Digital ethnography.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication, ed. byAlexandra Georgakopoulou and Tereza Spilioti, 55–68. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Zhu Hua, Li Wei, and Agnieszka Lyons
    2015 “Language, business and superdiversity in London: translanguaging business.” Working Papers in Translanguaging and Translation (WP5).
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error