Trans-scripting as a multilingual practice: the case of Hellenised English
Journal article by Jannis Androutsopoulos in International Journal of Multilingualism, published online 8 June, 2020
This paper introduces the term ‘trans-scripting’ to examine fleeting, socially unstable practices of writing a language in a non-canonical script. As a theoretical notion, trans-scripting conceives of script as a semiotic resource whose situated choice and sequential alternation can create discursive meaning. The case study is on ‘Hellenized English’, a recent and overall quite rare practice of representing English in the Greek script. The analysis focuses on three YouTube videos which display a former Greek Prime Minister speaking English and use Hellenised English in subtitles. Graphemic microanalysis of these subtitles shows how trans-scripting draws on various techniques to scorn the politician’s English language skills and, by extension, his adequacy for office. This case study shows that in a digital era, the choice of a non-canonical script is enabled by digital communication technologies, embedded in a complex semiotic environment, and oriented to a networked audience. Trans-scripting practices capitalise on the poetic dimension of language by inviting viewers to gaze on linguistic forms and reflect on their difference to other potential representations of speech, as a basis on which to draw socio-political and moral conclusions about the represented speaker.