[OPR] Wagner: Video Game-Contextual Vocabulary

On this page you can download the discussion paper that was submitted for publication in the Journal for Media Linguistics. The blogstract summarises the submission in a comprehensible manner. You can comment on the discussion paper and the blogstract below this post. Please use your real name for this purpose. For detailed comments on the discussion paper please refer to the line numbering of the PDF.


Discussion Paper (PDF)

Blogstract of

The Application of Video Game-Contextual Vocabulary Outside its Context of Emergence. A Frame Semantic Approach

by Pascal Wagner

Neologisms coined by specific groups in the internet sometimes leave their coinage environment whether because in-group speech provides a fitting term for a phenomenon not yet known to the general speaker, making it an appropriate addition to the general language, or when speakers of in-group languages carry them outside their usual environment where they may or may not be understood or even adapted by people unfamiliar to those terms. This paper takes a look at those limitation-losing terms based on one group, video game players, by asking the following main research question: How do the sense and use of video game-specific terms differ from the sense and use in their context of emergence?

As the term ‘sense’ implies, the paper utilises a frame semantic approach in the vein of Charles Fillmore and Sue Atkins, with the ultimate goal of portraying the sense shifts that occurred in the transition from in-group to out-group usage in a separate polysemic frame chart for every neologism.

Terms were preselected from typical terms used in gaming context. The video game specific terms noob, n00b, newb and ragequit in different orthographies were chosen through comparing the entries of two community general and one internet community curated dictionary. Data acquisition was achieved by webcrawling their usage with the NeoCrawler Observer software in a four month period in 2017. The occurrences were then sorted by in-group, meaning gaming-related, and out-group, non gaming-related contexts and further differentiated into categories by doing a Pagel-Level Classification derived from the research of Daphné Kerremans. Those categories and the usage of the terms within them provided attributes that could be taken into account by constructing the polysemic frames, i.e. a derogatory ‘mocking’ attribute found in in-group usages of noob in discussions but not found in any out-group usages constituted as proof for a sense shift. Noob, to further the example, was extensively used derogatively in video game contexts (as invective against inexperienced players in video titles or forum discussions), but was more often used for self-humbling in aid-seeking by non gaming-affiliated persons (as in forum headlines such as ‘noob programmer looking for help’), not for diminishing others. Furthermore, while the senses of ragequit in all its spelling variations did not differ greatly, noob, n00b and newb not only differed in senses between in-group and out-group usage, they were used with inherently different attributes in in-group usages in general. For example, the ‘mocking’ attribute was especially present in n00b, while being less prevalent in usage of newb.

From the findings of the paper, general criteria of how sense shift occuring in neologism that leave their coinage environment can be discovered and labelled as such were deduced. One of the key findings of the paper was that highly specific in-group neologisms may loose some sense defining features in the transition to out-group usage, but their out-group senses can still stay recognisable to in-group users. This is because the out-group sense stays transparent in how it is derived from an in-group usage by the majority of the attributes it retains (while, still, discarding others).

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