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English and French Online Comments

A Text Linguistic Comparison of Popular Science Magazines


John Marcus Sommer

In recent years, text and media linguistics have focused on genres in the new media. This is almost always accompanied by the question of the establishment and development of such content. Due to the diversity of genres and their dynamic development one can speak of an almost inexhaustible field of research. The book is located in this field of research. Its goal is to examine the origin and nature of readers’ comments by readers of French and English popular science magazines. Media content is dissected by using text linguistic tools. Transmedial cultures are explored across time, platforms, languages, and editing houses.

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1. Introduction


Popular Science has a long tradition of knowledge transfer, from museum exhibitions to radio and TV-shows and also print magazines. The Internet-era brought along new possibilities. In the case of popular science magazines, websites were introduced. However, there have been some recent changes concerning knowledge transfer online. Museums share videos on YouTube, researchers share their knowledge on Twitter, and universities offer online courses. These are developments that lead to new representational forms of knowledge. Big international publishers are interested in attracting the audience to their products.

Successful magazines also make use of new technologies such as commenting functions, which are known from other contexts. The engagement of readers in online interactions seems to be an essential feature for successful popular science magazines. Commenting systems help to create forums for the topics in the magazines’ articles and to make them accessible for laypeople. Additionally, popular science magazines are also interesting for current questions within the field of text linguistics since they contain a colorful mix of textual layers and genres, which also implies a heterogeneity that leads to processes of diversification and hybridization of texts (Held 2015: 297). My research interest lies within the genres letters to the editor and readers’ comments in the online and print versions of the popular science magazines National Geographic, Discover, Sciences et Avenir, and GEO. The aim of this book is to describe the changes within the genre profiles (Luginbühl 2014: 103–104) of the magazines and the differences or similarities between...

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