SOCIOLINGUISTIC FEATURES OF ENGLISH AS IT IS USED ON THE INTERNET (THE FACEBOOK DISCOURSE)
Powerful serge in the development of mass communication has caused the emergence of new sociolinguistic phenomena. We can speak, in particular, of noticeable changes in the English of Facebook users – not only in spelling and punctuation, lexical and grammatical systems, but also in the overall organization and forms of discourse. The time frame of our study covers the period between 2014 and 2018. The analysis of the lexical units in the discourse of males and females – the two major groups of Facebook users/audience, further subdivided into three age categories of 14–18, 19–23, and 24–35 years old, – indicates current sociolinguistic trends. The results of the analysis are compared to those obtained by a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, USA, and the University of Cambridge, UK, who in 2013 carried out the project Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach. We maintain that in general the scope of interests of Facebook users remains the same. The 14–18 year olds discuss the issues of school and entertainment, their discourse abounding in acronyms, abbreviations, (computer) slang, sometimes swear words. The group of users between 19 and 23 are mainly interested in the subjects of education, sport, relationships, emotions, leisure; in the USA/UK research, also the problem of job opportunities. Our research shows a much lower rate of profanity use than it was five years ago. The third, and the most active, group (24–35 years old) displays interest in the matters of politics, sport, spiritual development, relationships, arts and culture. Their discourse is well-organized and well-managed.