Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Fandom Language: For Me to Know and You to Figure Out

This Blog Was Written By 
C. Almeida

Fandoms or fan culture is a phenomenon anyone who has been invested in the fantastical framing of television show, trends, and mainstream pop culture can relate to. Fandom is performative - a fans language, gestures and choice of dress expresses the cultural work that influences them.  This allows these social performances to be reenacted and re-experienced. 

A fandom is a very self-conscious phenomenon, in which, fans or “scholar fans”  perform their identity through the engagement of idioms and textual sources (Kazimierczak). For many fandoms, their textual source is music, fanfics (fanfictions), fan works and art. According to studies done by Matt Hills, there are three concepts critical in understanding fandoms: liminality, imagined subjectivity and transgression. 
  Liminality: The between-ness where the fan's identity is temporarily affiliated with the identity and values of the culture. 
  Imagined subjectivity: Due to the ambiguity of identity there is continuous policing of and rules set within the fan community.
  Transgression: The dialectical force used as a means of reinforcement for the orders placed by the imagined subjectivity.  
Every fandom has their own culture, in which they create their own speech community to communicate feelings, ideas, and support with one another. These attributes are continually practiced, specifically, the language. Similar to other cultures, Fandom languages are constantly changing and being taught to the next generation that may join the fandom. For example, some Star Trek fans teach themselves the fictional language known as Klingon used in the films and tv shows. They continue to practice, evolve and pass down this culture for the next generation.    

Dipping into the K-Wave
The K-wave is a term used to describe the fast-growing Korean pop music scene. Korean pop, also known as K-pop, is a musical genre that originated in South Korea. Its growth into the international phenomenon it is known as today started with groups and artist like Big Bang, Psy, Shinee, 2ne1, Girls Generation etc. Often these groups incorporated dance, hip-hop, and R&B into many of the projects that their fandoms have come to love. 
How did Kpop become popular? Kpop grew mostly because of its accessibility via SNS platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Weibo. These platforms allow for the cultivation of a large cyberculture. For many Kpop fans, they gather as a speech community to talk about the latest M/V (Music video) or Artist activity on Twitter, Weibo, and YouTube (Chang, 2).

 Kpop Language 
The linguistical performance of this culture is found in their morphology and syntax. This is because it seems as if fans from Korea or other places internationally have their own “code” allowing them to be considered a member of the speech community. Most Kpop fans are multilingual, however, the fans that do not possess more than one language may also be considered multilingual because of their tendency to borrow words from four different languages: Hangul, Hinogo, Mandarin, and English (Llanes,3). 

Learning Kpop language is like Star Trek fans learning Klingon.   There is an agreed upon lexicon, semantics and syntactical usage. Some distinct things Kpop fans do is borrow words, compound word and adopt words related to their Bias (favorite artist).

Communications with a Kpop fan

Under the large umbrella of Kpop, fans create their own identity through the mixing of borrowed language with their primary language and tailor it specifically to an idol's group. There are probably over 40 sub-fandoms in the Kpop genre based on the number of groups/artists actively putting music.  In fact, many of the fans of Kpop classify or identify themselves to be a part of a multi-fandom, in which, they support more than one Kpop group. Never the less, there is a common language that is used among all of these fandoms. Here are some of the terms often used by a Kpop fan:     

Like many other communities, there are disagreements and competitions.  In Kpop these are called “fan wars” which are arguments between two fandoms. For example, a well-known fan war in Kpop is EXO-l's versus the ARMYs. The main fuel behind this war comes from each fandom wanting to prove their group is better than the others. 

 (a meme created by a fan expressing most the feeling 
most multi-fans have when faced with a fan war)

(This is a depiction of kpop oceans that occur at different kpop concerts,
 in which fans occasionally will synchronize their light sticks
 or own a specific idol groups light stick.)   

Does Fandom Equal Culture? 

In summary, a fandom is a speech community that is a performative culture. The performance is demonstrated in the common language exclusively used when fans gather together. Their language reflects their identity only within the context of their culture, whether it's in literature, music,  or a television show. For instance, within Kpop fandoms there are great complexities in the performative nature of there syntax, lexicon and semantics because the accessibility provided by SNS platforms. Allowing ideas and language to be shared and like a pidgin language, the borrowed words can be slightly changed and framed differently. 

So, can we really refer to Fandoms as languages? Can we think of Fandoms as a culture? And how is it possible for multiple Fandoms to exist?

1. Kazimierczak, Karolina Agata. “‘Linguistic Fandom’: Performing Liminal Identities in the Spaces of Transgression Karolina Agata Kazimierczak.” Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, Oct. 2010, pp. 1–16., liminalities.net/6-2/fandom.pdf.
2. Chang, Yifan. “Research on the Identity Construction of Korean Pop Music’s Fandom Groups on the Weibo Platform, Exemplified by G-Dragon (Kwon Ji-Yong).” Department of Informatics and Media Master Program in Digital Media & Society Uppsala University, 2014, pp. 7–31., www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:725402/fulltext01.pdf.
3. Llanes, Alpma Joy. “Language Research Proposal: Linguistic Practices of Philippine K-Pop Fan Community.” Academia.edu, www.academia.edu/13187522/Language_Research_Proposal_Linguistic_Practices_of_Philippine_K-Pop_Fan_Community.


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