Sociolinguistic Restratification in the Online-Offline Nexus: Trump’s Viral Errors

Jan Blommaert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Sociolinguistic stratification – the fact that language diversity is turned into inequality through processes of normative judgment – has been central in the development of modern sociolinguistics and has kept researchers’ attention for many decades. The online-offline nexus in which we have learned to live and organize our social lives in online as well as offline spaces, each carrying different normative standards, has become a lab for manifest sociolinguistic restratification. An analysis of Donald Trump’s orthographic errors on Twitter, and how such errors went viral, shows how multiple audiences apply very different indexical vectors to the errors, each of them iconicizing a more general set of perceived social and political divisions. The outcome is a complex, polycentric sociolinguistic system, far less stable than that imagined in earlier sociolinguistics. This system requires renewed attention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage policies and the politics of language practices
EditorsMax Spotti, Jos Swanenberg, Jan Blommaert
PublisherSpringer International
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-88723-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-88722-3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Online-offine nexus
  • Trump
  • Stratifcation
  • Indexicality
  • Orthographic errors


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