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Use of the Latin script in non-Latin script languages

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Title: Use of the Latin script in non-Latin script languages
Author(s): Luoma, Anni
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age
Specialisation: General Linguistics
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2019
This study examines the use of the Latin script in languages where the Latin script is not the official writing system. The aim of the research is to get a general perception of where and why the Latin script is used in those languages. The study concentrates on the use of the Latin script of individual writers, especially in informal writing situations online. The study also examines if the individuals have seen the Latin script used by others. In addition, the study finds out about the keyboard functionality when writing in the Latin and non-Latin scripts. Many case studies have covered the phenomenon of digraphia, which is a situation where one language uses two writing systems. However, a broader crosslinguistic study has not been done on this topic. The Latin script is the dominant script on the Internet which might have an impact on the script choice in online writing. Internet language and chatting are broadly studied but because of the continuously changing nature of the Internet, more research is required on these topics. This study aims to fill in some of the gaps that are left open by previous research. I gathered data by an online questionnaire and by four semi-structured interviews. By means of the questionnaire, I got open question answers and quantitative data from 142 respondents. Additionally, I had four interviews with representative users of different writing systems to get more detailed information about the use of the Latin script. The data was analysed and compared with previous research from the point of view of five groups of different scripts. The general finding of this study is that the respondents choose to write in the Latin script mostly when the non-Latin keyboard in not available or when fast and easy informal writing style is required. The Latin script has many different functions. It is mostly used in online chatting, texting with friends or when one’s personal information needs to be written in travelling documents. However, people prefer to write in the official non-Latin script even though it might sometimes feel difficult or slow to use. The study points out that it cannot be predicted whether a respondent uses the Latin script or not, since the results are mostly very variable. The need or even the eagerness to use the Latin script when it is not the official script, reflects the functions and facilities that are available or unavailable for different scripts.
Keyword(s): Latin script writing systems digraphia script-switching linguistic landscapes Internet writing sociolinguistics

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