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English and French Online Comments

A Text Linguistic Comparison of Popular Science Magazines

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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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2. From Text to Text Linguistics

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When talking about readers’ contributions to popular science magazines, one instantly thinks about a certain shape of texts. When thinking about such a shape, we are mostly associating a grouping of printed words, as is also reflected in the definition of text in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED): “The wording of anything written or printed; the structure formed by the words in their order; the very words, phrases, and sentences as written”. For everyday usage, this kind of definition is completely sufficient. Even for this project, we are mostly dealing with the visual representations of words (not necessarily written or printed). However, there is something more to texts than just the visual aspect foregrounded by the OED. Consequently, this chapter will give a brief overview of the study of texts.

Within the field of text linguistics, researchers have tried to look at texts from various perspectives. It comes as no surprise that scholars are unable to set out a universal definition of text. The reason for this is that researchers have different interests and perspectives. For this reason, the consensus was reached that it is impossible to give such a universal definition. This explains why researchers need a definition that is suitable for their goals (Brinker 2014: 13). Yet, there are some basics that recur in many text linguistic studies. (Halliday 1978: 139), for example, sees interaction as the “essential feature of text” as the “exchange of meanings is an interactive process, and text is the means of...

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