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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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3. Genre


So far, general aspects of texts were dealt with. The problem with this kind of abstraction is, of course, that it only allows for vague assumptions about texts. When looking at concrete examples of texts, when comparing letters to newspaper articles, people might say that these are different kinds of texts. Accordingly, the question of what kind of text one is dealing with became an issue for text linguistics. In the Anglophone world researchers have been calling these kinds of text genres or text types, whereas the Germanophone world calls them Textsorten or Texttypen.1 Following Hauser (2012a: 220), I will use these terms synonymously in this book although sometimes there has been disagreement whether or not a differentiation should be made between highly standardized genres with a low abstraction rate and minimal standardized genres. I will be using an unspecific notion of genre to refer to groups of texts (Adamzik 2001a: 21). Other approaches that do not use such an unspecific notion establish a hierarchical order among genres and text classes. In this respect, the communicative domain determines such a hierarchy (Gansel 2011: 12). However, it can be quite difficult to define a single communicative domain, which will in most cases rather be an arbitrary decision depending on the research interests. Another downside of these attempts are the different uses and nomenclatures of the constructed layers, which may lead to confusion. Thus, an unspecific conception of genre is more likely to account for the heterogeneity of text worlds. Still, the...

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