‘If you can’t share the road, then find yourself some other planet’: Impoliteness in a corpus of newspaper blog comments (Daniel Ginsberg)
Daniel Ginsberg ‘If you can’t share the road, then find yourself some other planet’: Impoliteness in a corpus of newspaper blog comments Abstract Among internet users, online discussions about controversial topics are known for quickly turning acrimonious, but as Locher (2010) points out, this aspect of computer-mediated communication has received little scholarly attention. To investigate impoliteness online, the present study follows Eelen (2001) in proposing that there can be no meaningful objective definition of impolite language, focusing instead ‘on the production of (im)politeness evaluations’ (Eelen 2001:249). A corpus of over 20,000 words was collected, comprising comments on articles from the Washington Post local news blog dealing with the coexistence of cyclists and drivers on city streets. Each post was tagged for alignment and politeness/impoliteness, reflecting the judgments of the researcher; judgments from other readers were collected as well, to gauge the extent to which generalizations can be made. Word and bigram frequency analyses were performed along each dimension (cyclist vs. driver; impolite vs. polite) as well as between cells (impolite cyclist vs. impolite driver, etc.) to identify words and phrases that show a statistically significant difference of frequency across categories. These results were then analyzed qualitatively to investigate the underlying ideology of each position. The final analysis suggests that impoliteness is interpreted as a resource for claiming group membership or affiliation. Keywords: computer-mediated discourse, corpus linguistics, impoliteness, quantitative sociolinguistics 1. Introduction Among internet users, online discussions about controversial topics are known for quickly turning acrimonious. The phenomena...
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