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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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12. Topic Management


In the discussion of previous research on the genre of letters to the editors in chapter 4.1, the analysis showed that the connection between two texts is a prototypical feature of the genre. This puts coherence and intertextuality into the center of the genre description. While there are various conceptions of coherence, a well-suited method to describe it is Conversation Analysis (as explained in chapter 5). This is partly because a general conversational structure has developed in online comments. The question then arises, if the conversations that appear on the various platforms are actually about the articles published by the magazines. In other words, one might ask the question if the label readers’ comments is justified. This broader question also entails the aspect whether or not the practices found in the conversations are to any extent language, magazine, or platform specific.

In order to test these hypotheses, threads with two participants from the 2015 sub-corpus were analysed, using the broad categories topic maintenance and topic change.

The following examples show how readers maintain the topics of the root article and root posts in the first turn of a thread. This means that in these examples, thread starters make a coherent contribution to the topic provided by the magazine either on the root article (in the case of magazine comments) or on the root post (in the case of Twitter and Facebook).

The following examples show the first turns of dialogues found on Twitter. Generally,...

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