ABSTRACT

This chapter approaches Latin-alphabet Greek (henceforth also LAG) from D VRFLROLQJXLVWLF DQG GLVFRXUVHDQDO\WLF SHUVSHFWLYH ,W RƨHUV DQ RYHUYLHZRI LWV development and contemporary use, and examines its linguistic hallmark, namely spelling variation, and the way this is constructed in the discourse of internet users and the wider Greek speech community. Moreover, it aims at drawing wider implications for the sociolinguistics of orthography in the age of computermediated communication. For the purposes of my argument, I shall draw on the distinction between ‘autonomous’ and ‘ideological’ approaches to orthography, on the sociolinguistic notions of digraphia and focusing, and on the distinction between transliteration as an abstract system and as individual practice. ,QWKHƩUVWSODFHWKHQRWLRQRIGLJUDSKLD4 will provide a conceptual frame for this chapter. In particular, the term ‘computer-mediated digraphia’ is coined for the simultaneous use of both the native Greek and the Latin script in computermediated interaction. The characteristics of Greek computer-mediated digraphia include: a lack of stability and societal agreement on the use of LAG; its persistence in transnational communication; the lack of a widely known transliteration standard, which results in a wide range of variability in transliteration practice; the emergence of metalinguistic discourses among internet users as well as in nationwide media; and the importance of technological developments for the shifting patterns of LAG use and evaluation. Within this frame, transliteration practices and discourses on ‘Greeklish’ will be examined in terms of ‘ideological’ and ‘autonomous’ approaches to orthography.5 %ULHƪ\DQDXWRQRPRXVDSSURDFKYLHZVRUWKRJUDSK\DVDŚQHXWUDOśWHFKQRORJ\IRU the representation of spoken language. In contrast, an ideological approach views RUWKRJUDSK\DVDVHWRIVRFLDOSUDFWLFHVLQVSHFLƩFVRFLDODQGFXOWXUDOFRQWH[WV)URP this perspective:

Rather than being a mere matter of technological necessity, as an autonomous approach would assume, ‘Greeklish’ is a rich site of aesthetic and ideological FRQƪLFW 7KLV KROGV WUXH IRU ERWK LWV UHODWLRQVKLS WR WKH *UHHN VFULSW DQG WKH UHODWLRQVKLS EHWZHHQ GLƨHUHQW YHUVLRQV RI *UHHNWR/DWLQ WUDQVOLWHUDWLRQ $Q

ideological approach to orthography allows us to understand how writers’ spelling choices and metalinguistic assumptions are shaped by the symbolic and aesthetic meanings they attach to alternative schemes of transliteration.7 On the other hand, the distinction between ideological and autonomous approaches to orthography will be used as an analytical tool in order to reveal that the opinions and arguments expressed for and against ‘Greeklish’ are sometimes ‘autonomous’ and sometimes ‘ideological’ in nature. The variability of ‘Greeklish’ spelling is due to the fact that Greek-to-Latin transliteration is not acknowledged within the Greek educational system. With transliteration standards hardly known outside expert circles, Greek internet users have developed a range of informal transliteration schemes, appropriating the Latin script in innovative ways. The distinction between transliteration as an abstract system and individual style, along with the notion of focusing,8 will be used to examine how individual regularity and ‘local’ norms emerge in a normative vacuum, in which choices of Latinized spelling are neither prescribed nor sanctioned. I shall reconstruct two main transliteration schemes, ‘phonetic’ and ‘orthographic’, and argue that they are relevant orientation points for both transliteration practice and discourse. Moreover, I shall draw on the notion of ‘focusing’ to examine how the range of transliteration alternatives is reduced as individual spelling styles converge towards ‘local’, group-related norms.