Lilja Björk Stefánsdóttir

Project Manager; PhD student; MA thesis (2018)

MA thesis:
Localists and Globalists: Cultural motivation in digital language contact

In recent years, societies have undergone many fundamental changes, many of which are the result of the general trend of globalization. Advancements in access to information and technology have, in a way, completely altered many people’s perceptions of the world around them, leading some to feel the world is getting smaller. Alongside this, the importance of a widely understood international language has increased, and so these transitions can be expected to have an impact on languages, their status and people’s attitudes towards different languages.
The thesis is based on data captured in an online survey which is a part of the project Modeling the Linguistic Consequences of Digital Language Contact, with the aim of examining how globalization and societal changes can affect people’s attitudes towards their native language, Icelandic, and towards the global language of English. I argue that cultural motivation and people’s cultural identities can influence people’s attitudes towards languages and their willingness to embrace language standards. I do that by systematically comparing two groups from the survey, Cosmopolitans and Localists, focusing on how they answer questions about their attitudes towards Icelandic and English. Comparison of the two groups shows systematic differences towards Icelandic and English, indicating that cultural motivation and cultural identity can have an impact on people’s attitudes towards languages.