YouTube Comments as Metalanguage Data on Non-standardized Languages: The Case of Trinidadian Creole English in Soca Music

  • Glenda Alicia LeungEmail author
Part of the Multimedia Systems and Applications book series (MMSA)


This chapter takes an innovative look at YouTube comments as a source of language attitudinal data, otherwise known as metalanguage. Social media sites are linguistically emancipatory spaces where users of non-standardized/non-codified languages are free to communicate, interact, and collaborate as they see fit, free from prescriptivism and censure. Within the framework of indexicality, specific units of language (e.g., vocalic/consonantal sounds or words) may become associated with multiple social correlates such as gender, socio-economic class, and education. At higher levels of indexicality or indexical orders, the same unit of language may index particular stances in specific contexts. In this analysis, YouTube comments on soca music—a genre of party music popularized during Trinidadian carnival and performed in non-standardized Trinidadian Creole English—are treated as metalanguage data. A model of indexical orders associated with a particular Trinidadian Creole English vowel is proposed, based on YouTube metalanguage and data from other established empirical studies. The analysis highlights how this particular Trinidadian Creole English vowel indexes oppositional stances against respectability in a carnival context. Overall, the chapter positions computer-mediated communication via social media as a powerful means through which users of non-standardized/non-codified languages can display and exert their social and linguistic agency.


Social Meaning Linguistic Intuition Creole Language Oppositional Stance Carnival Music 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. R.D. Abrahams, The Man-of-Words in the West Indies: Performance and the Emergence of Creole Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1983)Google Scholar
  2. R. Allsopp, Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (University of West Indies Press, Kingston, 2003)Google Scholar
  3. J. Androutsopoulos, in Discourse 2.0: Language and new media, ed. by D. Tannen, A. M. Trester. Participatory culture and metalinguistic discourse: Performing and negotiating German dialects on YouTube (Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2013), pp. 47–71Google Scholar
  4. J. Androutsopoulos, Introduction: sociolinguistics and computer‐mediated communication. J. Sociolinguist. 10(4), 419–438 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. J. Androutsopoulos, J. Tereick, in The Routledge handbook of language and digital communication, ed. by A. Georgakopoulou, T. Spilioti. YouTube: language and discourse practices in participatory culture (Routledge, New York, 2016), pp. 354–370Google Scholar
  6. Back on de Scene, Tusty – Blaxx (Trini soca 2009) [Video file] (2009), Retrieved from
  7. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1968)Google Scholar
  8. Blaxx, Tusty, in Soca gold 2009 [CD] (VP Records, Jamaica, NY, 2009)Google Scholar
  9. R.D. Burton, Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition, and Play in the Caribbean (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1997)Google Scholar
  10. CanchozI, Kes the Band – Wotless (soca 2011) [Video file] (2010), Retrieved from
  11. J. Coomansingh, in Island Tourism: Towards a Sustainable Perspective, ed. by J. Carlsen, R. Butler. Social sustainability of tourism in a culture of sensuality, sexual freedom and violence: Trinidad and Tobago (CAB International, Wallingford, 2011), pp. 118–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. A. Coulon, Ethnomethodology (Sage, Thousand Oaks, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. N. Coupland, Style: Language Variation and Identity (CUP, Cambridge, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. T. Dalzell, T. Victor, The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (Routledge, New York, 2015)Google Scholar
  15. M. Devitt, Linguistic intuitions and cognitive penetrability. Balt. Int. Yearb. Cogn. Logic Commun. 9(1), 4 (2014)Google Scholar
  16. P. Eckert, Variation and the indexical field. J. Socioling. 12(4), 453–476 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. C.A. Ferguson, Diglossia. Word 15(2), 325–340 (1959)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. A. Georgakopoulou, T. Spilioti (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication (Routledge, New York, 2016)Google Scholar
  19. T. Heyd, Doing race and ethnicity in a digital community: Lexical labels and narratives of belonging in a Nigerian web forum. Discourse Context Media 4, 38–47 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. L. Hinrichs, Codeswitching on the Web: English and Jamaican Creole in e-mail Communication (John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. A. Jaffe, Stance: Sociolinguistic perspectives (OUP, New York, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. B. Johnstone, S.F. Kiesling, Indexicality and experience: Exploring the meanings of/aw−monophthongization in Pittsburgh. J. Socioling. 12(1), 5–33 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. JulianspromosTV. Machel Montano: Hard wuk 2011 Trinidad Carnival (produced by Mr. Roots) [Video file] (2011), Retrieved from
  24. Kes the Band, Wotless, in Wotless: The carnival album [CD] (Kes the Band, Trinidad, 2011)Google Scholar
  25. S.F. Kiesling, Dude. Am Speech 79(3), 281–305 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. G. Leung, A synchronic sociophonetic study of monophthongs in Trinidadian English (Doctoral dissertation), (2013), Retrieved from
  27. H.D. Maharajh, A. Kalpoo, in Perspectives in Caribbean Psychology, ed. by F.W. Hickling, B.K. Matthies, K. Morgan, R.C. Gibson. Culture and behaviour: Recognition of cultural behaviours in Trinidad and Tobago (Kingston, Caribbean Institute of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, 2012), pp. 131–160Google Scholar
  28. J. Maynes, Linguistic intuition and calibration. Linguist. Philos. 35(5), 443–460 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. A. Moll, Jamaican Creole goes web: Sociolinguistic styling and authenticity in a digital ‘Yaad’ (John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. M. Montano, Hard wuk, in The return [CD] (Ruf Rex Records/Xtatik Ltd., Trinidad, 2011)Google Scholar
  31. N. Niedzielski, D. Preston, Folk linguistics (Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. S. R. Payne, W. J. Davies, M. D. Adams, Research into the practical policy applications of soundscapes concepts and techniques in urban areas. DEFRA report NANR200, June 2009Google Scholar
  33. R. Oenbring, Bey or bouy: Orthographic patterns in Bahamian Creole English on the web. Engl. World-Wide 34(3), 341–364 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Olatunji, A. (2009, February 19). Blaxx-Tusty (offical soca music video 2009) [Video file]. Retrieved from
  35. A. Rajah-Carrim, Use and standardisation of Mauritian Creole in electronically mediated communication. J. Comput. Mediat. Commun. 14(3), 484–508 (2009)Google Scholar
  36. M.C. Riggio, Resistance and identity: carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. Drama Rev. 42(3), 7–23 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. N. Scheper-Hughes, Death without weeping: Everyday violence in Brazil (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1992)Google Scholar
  38. E. Schneider, World Englishes on Youtube: treasure trove or nightmare? in World Englishes: New Theoretical and Methodological Considerations, ed. by E. Seoane, C. Suárez-Gómez (Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2016), p. 253–282Google Scholar
  39. J. Shepherd, D. Horn (eds.), Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world: Performance and Production, vol 2 (Continuum, New York, NY, 2003)Google Scholar
  40. M. Silverstein, Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Lang. Commun. 23(3), 193–229 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. SIL International, What is a phoneme? (2004), Retrieved December 10, 2016, from
  42. G. Smitherman, Talkin and testifyin: The language of Black America (Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI, 1977)Google Scholar
  43. J.T. Springer, “Roll it gal”: Alison Hinds, female empowerment, and calypso. Meridians 8(1), 93–129 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. L. Squires (ed.), English in Computer-mediated Communication: Variation, Representation, and Change (De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin, 2016)Google Scholar
  45. A. Strauss, J. Corbin, Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, 1998)Google Scholar
  46. Urban Dictionary, Tusty [Online dictionary] (2009), Retrieved from
  47. R. Wardhaugh, J. Fuller, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (John Wiley & Sons, Malden, 2015)Google Scholar
  48. T. Wasow, J. Arnold, Intuitions in linguistic argumentation. Lingua 115(11), 1481–1496 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. J.C. Wells, Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles (CUP, Cambridge, 1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. G. Wilson, The Sociolinguistics of Singing: Dialect and Style in Classical Choral Singing in Trinidad (Verlag-Haus Monsenstein und Vannerdat, Monsenstein, 2014)Google Scholar
  51. P.J. Wilson, Crab Antics: the Social Anthropology of English-Speaking Negro Societies of the Caribbean (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1973)Google Scholar
  52. L. Winer, Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago: On Historical Principles (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2009)Google Scholar
  53. D. Winford, Phonological hypercorrection in the process of decreolization: the case of Trinidadian English. J. Linguist. 14(2), 277–291 (1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. A.D. Wong, The reappropriation of tongzhi. Lang. Soc. 34(05), 763–793 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherManhattan, KansasUSA

Personalised recommendations