Language Shaming on YouTube: Linguistic Features, Themes, and Social Implications

Document Type : Research Article


1 Faculty of Education, Humanities, and Arts, Universiti Poly-Tech Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia



Language shaming is a prevalent issue in Malaysia, particularly in the online sphere, where English language speakers often face targeted discrimination due to linguistic imperialism and misconceptions. This study aimed to identify the linguistic features and themes underlying language shaming practices and assess the awareness of Malaysian adults and YouTube users regarding this issue. The study combined content analysis of 240 YouTube comments exported using YouTube API and a survey of 100 respondents using qualitative and quantitative approaches. The statements were categorized based on speech acts by Searle and were, further, classified according to Rezvan et al.’s (2018) 5 types of Internet harassment. Findings reveal a significant number of statements classified as expressive speech acts, primarily falling into categories such as intellectual harassment, followed by racial harassment, appearance-related harassment, and political harassment. The analysis also uncovers instances of offensive language shaming directed at public figures in YouTube comments, whereas responses from the survey revealed that a number of Malaysians engage in shaming other YouTube users using derogatory terms and phrases. The study suggests that promoting awareness and a sense of responsibility among Malaysians can help overcome this social issue. Addressing language shaming can create a more inclusive society and prevent individuals from being marginalized based on their language proficiency.


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