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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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5. Conversation Analysis

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In Chapter 4, features of the genres analyzed in this book were discussed. What becomes clear from previous research is that the communication forms of the online genres seem to bring about a higher potential for conversations than the offline communication forms. While the conversation-like structures are primarily stressed in tweets, similar patterns can be found in other online genres, too. Although with letters to the editor we also find dialogical patterns, the changes in the online genres are more drastic as they allow for completely new participation structures.

In order to analyze these conversational patterns and to contrast them according to the journalistic cultures of each magazine, different methods are needed. So far, text linguistics was introduced in Chapter 2 and genre research in Chapter 3. However, these fields of research have traditionally dealt with longer written texts. In the previous research of the new communication forms it was shown, that the genres in CMC also share many features with oral communication. This is why Conversation Analysis can supplement the aforementioned methods. Conversation Analysis developed under the influence of ethnomethodology. A landmark for the establishment of this new paradigm were Harvey Sack’s lectures (Sacks & Jefferson 2000) in which he tried to understand the organization of talk. Together with his colleagues, they present the turn-taking system in a very influential paper, which is the basis for all talk in interaction (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson 1974). They found that features such as speaker change, turn-allocation, turn-overlap, transitions without...

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