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Scenario Negotiation in Online Debates about the European Union

Analysing Metaphor in Communication


Stefanie Vogelbacher

For decades, the focus of Metaphor Studies laid on Conceptual Metaphor and its role in the human conceptual system. This study, however, focuses on metaphor in communication. Its aim is to shed light on how commenters in online debates discuss EU-related topics via Scenario Negotiation, expressing and negotiating their points of view via Metaphorical Scenarios. The study offers a review of current metaphor theory and practical approaches and proposes an Integrated Model of Scenario Negotiation. The results are based on context-sensitive, qualitative analysis of data which stem from a corpus of online debates from the Guardian’s Comment is free section. The discussion illustrates the genre-specific conceptual-communicative functions of Scenario Negotiation in naturally occurring discourse.

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4 The communicative context: Online debating as a genre


A Case Study on metaphor COMMUNICATION needs a detailed analysis of the genre in which metaphor occurs. Genre-specific features – such as the speaker-addressee constellation, participant characteristics and purpose of interaction, but also technical factors – fulfil the function of a frame171, as they both delimit and shape the communicative situation (Fetzer 2010: 15), and hence impact on the use of metaphor. The chapter starts with some general background about computer-mediated communication and computer-mediated discourse analysis, raising general theoretical, methodological, technical and ethical issues relevant to the study of computer-mediated discourse (Section 4.1). Then, online debating is introduced as a genre, i.e. as a discourse activity characterised and constituted by a set of formal and functional features, which are linked to socially situated conventions and expectations (Section 4.2). Finally, the chapter provides a detailed analysis of the Guardian Online comment and debate section Comment is free, from which the linguistic material for the case study has been collected (Section 4.3).

4.1 Computer-mediated communication and computer-mediated discourse analysis

In the Handbook of Discourse Analysis, edited by Schiffrin, Tannen & Hamilton in 2003, Herring gives the following definition of the notions Computermediated Discourse and Computer-mediated Communication:

Computer-mediated discourse is the communication produced when human beings interact with one another by transmitting messages via networked computers. The study of computer-mediated discourse (henceforth CMD) is a specialization within the ←127 | 128→broader interdisciplinary study of computer-mediated communication (CMC), distinguished by its focus on language and language use in...

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