Panel 21 | Social media discourse

CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy

8 | Kamil Kopacewicz & Tymoteusz Krumholc

Emoji and emoticons on Tinder. Emergent meanings and new communication rituals within the population of hetero- and non-heteronormative man of Tinder in Poland

This research explores the topic of emoji and emoticons usage on Tinder dating application. It is common knowledge that people use both emoji and emoticons extensively for the purposes of internet communication. What is less explored is – how do they use them. We venture into the world of dating applications to map out the semantic, pragmatic and discoursive phenomena of pictorial language. We analyse 774 descriptions of heteronormative (HN) and non-heteronormative (nHN) males from the major Polish urban area. The study describes the proto-grammatic structures, encoded semantic values, and pragmatic functions. We also show how emoji are used to stand as identity markers, and how their ambiguity might cause communication failures.

Research questions and material

To perform the research, we've gathered 774 Tinder descriptions, divided into four separate corpora: younger HN (157), older HN (179), younger nHN (228), older nHN (210). The descriptions were written mostly in Polish language, with some exceptions in English. Some descriptions contained neither emoji nor emoticons, most of them were mixed text+emoji/emoticons, some contained only emoji. Our effort was mostly descriptive, although we looked for the differences between age and gender groups.

To describe the phenomenon, we asked the following questions: (1) what kind of grammatical structures and connections are construed, (2) what meanings do the emoji carry, (3) what pragmatic functions do they serve, (4) what higher discoursive strategies do they realize?

Brief outline of methodology

To operationalize the research, we used the Atlas.ti QDA software, in which we've annotated the descriptions. The annotation labels were created in an iterative process, with top-bottom linguistic labels (such as 'irony', 'metaphor', 'hedging', 'legitimisation'), later pruned to better suit the material. Our theoretical paradigm was based on CDA (van Dijk, 1997), emoji semiotics (Danesi, 2016) and politeness theory (Brown and Levinson, 1987), as well as several other emoji-specific research papers (Bai et al., 2019; Cohn, Engelen and Schilperoord, 2019; Gawne and McCulloch 2019)

Data analysed

We've discovered that more than 53% of users from our data sample use either emoji or emoticons – emoji being the more popular vehicle of communication (44,06% of descriptions contained emoji, only 13,7% contained emoticons). We found that users tend not to construct complex syntactic strings out of emoji, using them rather as a way to punctuate written sentences, or to add emotional valency. Reduplication was a common structure that appeared. Some descriptions contained emoji semantic lists, e.g. meaning the list of hobbies or preferences.

In the semantic section of the research, we found that emoji often work as stand-ins for nouns – in literal meaning or metaphorical/methonymical. The figurative usage can be derived from the pictorial quality of how emoji looks or from the cultural connotations bound to some concept. Some examples are: YELLOW LEAF IS AUTUMN, THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IS TALL GUY, FOX IS FRECKLED PERSON, POPCORN IS MOVIES, GREEN LEAF IS BIOLOGIST. Emoji also have a plethora of euphemistic and sexual coded meaning. What's most interesting, we've seen the same emoji used differently across the HN and nHN corpora, with or without the element of sexual innuendo. Finally, we've described several emoji that are being used to convey identity of users.

Finally, we've discovered several pragmatic and discoursive strategies, used for a rhetorical effect. Emoji and emoticons could be used as a face-saving device, disambiguation tool, hedging, boosting, conceiving humour and irony. They are also used as tools of legitimising the speaker, setting modality of an utterance, or creating the conceptual space intended by the user.

19 | Xiang Huang

When "greasy" becomes a social label: "yóuni" (油腻) metaphors in Weibo

In this paper, I aim to explore a novel internet slang, i.e., 油腻, youni (literal translation: greasy), which has been popularly used in Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo (henceforth Weibo). In October 2017, Feng Tang, a Chinese writer, published an article entitled如何避免成为一个油腻的中年猥琐男[How to avoid becoming a greasy, dirty middle-aged man] on his Weibo (Feng, 2017). The article laments the greasy middle-aged men in China, who have greasy looks and sleazy behaviors along with their puffy bodies. youni, which traditionally describes food, is used to describe an overweight middle-aged man as vulgar and mediocre. The article has triggered heated discussions in China’s internet and youni accordingly has become one of the hottest buzzwords for the year of 2017 in China.

Interestingly, up to date, especially after the outbreak of Covid-19, there shows no signs of abating in the popularity of youni. By the time of writing (September, 2021 when the world was still experiencing Covid-19), the term had witnessed its expanding and even more enormous popularity from describing middle-aged men to young athletic men (who are apparently not ‘greasy-looking’ physically), women (who are traditionally deemed clean and hygienic), and even some unhuman objects (e.g.,油腻的动作 [‘greasy’ acts], 油腻的车[‘greasy’ cars]. The rise, popularity and shifting connotation of the term youni serves us an interesting discursive resource for exploring innovative linguistic practice in Chinese social media and society at large.

In spite of its popularity, few scholarly attention has been paid to youni. I feel it is good time to reflect on the use of youni and assess what it means in contemporary Chinese society. To the best of my knowledge, discourse studies on this term remain almost uncultivated and this study represents an initial effort in systematically investigating the term. In this study, underpinned by neoliberalism (Block, Gray, & Holborow, 2012) and metaphorical scenario (Musolff, 2006), focusing on youni in Weibo discourse (2017-2021), I aim to answer the following questions:

1) How has youni been represented in Weibo through words that frequently accompany it?

2) What metaphorical scenarios do youni motivate?

Through answering the questions, the core purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how youni is ‘new normally’ used in Chinese social media and what body-related ideologies surface along with its pan-usage. I believe such an exploration can bring to light the sociocultural values that are projected onto bodies in Chinese society, especially after the covid-19 health crisis.


Block, D., Gray, J., & Holborow, M. (2012). Neoliberalism and applied linguistics (pp. 1-13). London: Routledge.

Musolff, A. (2006). Metaphor Scenarios in Public Discourse. Metaphor and Symbol, 21(1), 23–38.

31 | Roni Danziger & Mia Schreiber

Digital Diplomacy: Face Management of MFAs Twitter accounts

In recent years, studies have addressed the influence of the digital society logic on the practices of public diplomacy (Manor, 2019), and the extent to which online Ministry of Foreign Affairs (henceforth MFAs) accounts realized the potential of digital diplomacy to foster dialogic relations with foreign online publics (Kampf et. al., 2015). While these studies addressed questions of media logic and public engagement in digital diplomacy, they seem to lack a sociological perspective for analyzing social interactions and identity management (e.g. Goffman, 1967) that are widely considered the main goal of social media (Dayter, 2015; Murthy, 2012; Hogan, 2010). Our study addresses this lacuna by offering an analysis of MFA’s image management on Twitter. Assuming that states can be perceived as social, intentional and communicating actors (Wendt, 2004; Kampf et al., 2019), we harness the framework of Face theory (Goffman, 1967; Brown & Levinson, 1987) to examine how MFA accounts use Twitter to manage face.

This study brings a socio-pragmatic perspective to digital diplomacy by contrasting three states that are actively trying to appeal to the international community while maintaining freedom of action: Israel, Russia, and Turkey. We analyze how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of each state uses their Twitter account to interact with other actors in the international arena and manage face. Using quantitative content analysis, we examined 597 tweets in order to map their topics and functions. Our findings show that the MFAs tweet mostly about interstate cooperation and international matters (52%), and that the dominant function of their tweets was presenting the state’s positive face (45%). However, the three accounts differed in their understanding of the digital platform and the interactional strategy they preferred to deploy in pursuing their foreign policy goals. Lastly, we demonstrate that Twitter is seen as a legitimate platform for acting within the international arena, and discuss how communicative participation frameworks (Goffman, 1981; Levinson, 1988) reveal that although public diplomacy is addressed to foreign publics, its recipients are international actors. Thus, Twitter affords the implementation of a state foreign policy in addressing multiple audiences.


Brown, P. & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Dayter, D. (2015). Small stories and extended narratives on Twitter. Discourse, Context & Media, 910, 19–26.‏

Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behaviour. 1st ed. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of Talk: Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hogan, B. (2010). The presentation of self in the age of social media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 30(6), 377-386.‏

Kampf, R., Manor, I., and Segev, E. (2015). “Digital Diplomacy 2.0? A Cross-National Comparison of Public Engagement in Facebook and Twitter.” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 10 (4): 331–362.

Kampf, Z., Aldar, L., Danziger, R., & Schreiber, M. (2019). The pragmatics of amicable interstate communication. Intercultural Pragmatics, 16(2), 123-151.‏

Levinson, S.C. (1988). Putting Linguistics on a Proper Footing: Explorations in Goffman's Concepts of Participation. In Erving Goffman: Exploring the Interaction Order, eds. P. Drew & A. Wootton. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 161–227.

Manor, I. (2019). The Digitalization of Public Diplomacy. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI:

Murthy, D. (2012). Towards a sociological understanding of social media: Theorizing Twitter. Sociology, 46(6), 1059-1073.

Wendt, A. (2004). The state as person in international theory. Review of International Studies 30(2). 289–316.

115 | Isabel Alonso Belmonte

“Why is English an official language in Spain?”: discourse strategies of polarization in tweets on bilingual education programs

This paper explores the ideological structures behind polarized digital discourse on Spanish Bilingual Education Programs (BEPs) displayed in Twitter. BEPs are large education plans working in state schools whereby some content subjects are taught in a foreign language –mainly English– following Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Whereas research results unequivocally report the supremacy of CLIL tuition over language-driven instruction, especially in the long term (Perez Cañado & Lancaster, 2017; Perez Cañado, 2017), many teachers and families have started to complain that students learn neither the language nor the subject matter properly. The controversy on the effectiveness of BP has overstepped the education community and is now settled in Spanish society, framing general opinions and affecting family schooling decisions.

In this context, a corpus- assisted critical discourse study was designed to analyze the discourse stances on BEPs displayed by digital users in Twitter. For this purpose, a sample of 250 multilingual posts in Spanish was collected. These posts were tweeted immediately after the publication of a documentary video against the Madrid bilingual education program in June 2021. The analysis carried out combined corpus linguistic techniques with manual annotation. Two main groups of posts were identified: those written by pro- BEPs and those against BEPs. For each of these groups, three different sources of data were correlated: Topic selection, keywords, and evaluative parameters (Bednarek, 2016). Our findings describe a major pattern of resistance towards the BEPs which manifests discursively through different strategies of negative other-presentation (Van Dijk, 2006) and of affective polarization. Results were critically interpreted considering the Spanish social context.


Bednarek. M. 2016. Investigating evaluation and news values in news items that are shared via social media. Corpora 11(2): 227-25.

Pérez Cañado, M. L. & Lancaster, N. K. 2017. The effects of CLIL on oral comprehension and production: A longitudinal study. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 30 (3): 300-316.

Pérez Cañado, M. L. 2017. The effects of CLIL on L21 and content learning: Updated empirical evidence from monolingual contexts. Learning and Instruction, 57: 18-33.

Van Dijk, T. 2006. Discurso y manipulación: Discusión teórica y algunas aplicaciones. Signos, 39 (60): 49-74.

127 | Manuel Alcántara-Plá

The Appealing Side of Hate Speech: The Sense of Belonging of Right-Wing Extremism in Social Media

The Appealing Side of Hate Speech: The Sense of Belonging of Right-Wing Extremism in Social Media

Hate speech is a hot topic in current research of social media CDS because of its well-established role in digital and political communication. Recent research focuses on the strategies that are being used in racist discourses (e.g. Van Dijk 1993) and generally in populist/extremist discourses (e.g. Kienpointner 2005, Brown & Mondon 2020). In this paper we claim that, in addition to analizyng these negative effects of hate speech, we also need to better understand the positive ones. This would help us to explain its success on the Internet.

To study the appealing side of hate speech, we analyze the discursive practices of right-wing extremism in social networks (Twitter and Instagram) within the general framework of SM-CDS (KhosraviNik 2017), giving special relevance to politeness and impoliteness/antipoliteness strategies in relation to the construction of identity and sense of belonging to an in-group. We follow recent approaches in politeness studies where face is understood as connectedness and separatedness in human relationships (Arundale 2009). Hate is an emotion used to draw a line between "us" and "them" (Van Dijk 1998, Kopytowska 2017) because the identification of a common enemy is an old strategy for unification (Kienpointner & Stopfner 2017). From this perspective, even insults have a social function in strengthening the cohesion of groups (Tannock 1999).

Our results show that, understanding the process of social construction as a communicative process (Honneth 1995), hate is being used in social media by extremists to establish their group identity and an apparently insurmountable social distance between different groups. We found that their messages have a very high amount of politeness strategies that depict the in-group members as extremely good and frequently in danger, while depicting the out-group members as bad and dangerous. This danger is the main reason why hate and fear are the most common emotions in their discourses, as per our analysis. We find that the damage caused to the out-groups is collateral because the actual goal of the hate speech we have analyzed is not the hate itself, but the sense of belonging to a group that must be supported and protected. We also found that digital platforms are very well suited for these discourses because of their interactional/relational capabilities and the existing pressure to represent ourselves on them (Herbst 2010).


- Arundale, R. B. 2009. "Face as emergent in interpersonal communication: an alternative to Goffman". Face, communication and social interaction, 33-54.

- Brown, K., & Mondon, A. 2020. "Populism, the media, and the mainstreaming of the far right: The Guardian’s coverage of populism as a case study". Politics.

- Herbs, S. 2010. Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in American Politics.

- Honneth, A. 1995. "The fragmented world of the social: essays in social and political philosophy". Suny Press.

- Kienpointner, Manfred. 2005. “Racist Manipulation within Austrian, German, Dutch, French and Italian Right-Wing Populism.” In: Manipulation and Ideologies in the Twentieth Century, ed. by Louis de Saussure, and Peter Schulz, 213–235. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

- Kienpointner, M., & Stopfner, M. 2017. "Ideology and (Im) politeness". The palgrave handbook of linguistic (im) politeness

- KhosraviNik, M. 2017. "Social media critical discourse studies (SM-CDS)". In The Routledge handbook of critical discourse studies. Routledge.

- Kopytowska, M. (Ed.). 2017. Contemporary discourses of hate and radicalism across space and genres. John Benjamins

- Tannock, S. 1999. "Working with insults: Discourse and difference in an inner-city youth organization". Discourse & Society, 10(3)

- Van Dijk, T. 1993. Elite discourse and racism. Newbury Park, Sage.

- Van Dijk, T. A. 1998. Ideology: A multidisciplinary approach. Sage.

130 | Daniela Ibarra

Online reactions to the televised campaigns of the 2020 national referendum for a new constitution in Chile: A discursive approach

The main aim of this research is to analyse discursive resources present on texts on social media platforms, more specifically Twitter, related to the television spots of the Chilean Referendum for a new constitution of October 2020, from a critical perspective that integrates principles of discourse studies, specifically, of the discourse-historical approach (Reisigl & Wodak, 2016) and the conceptual framework of the hybrid media system (Chadwick, 2017). The study of social media data related to televised political events helped to understand new dynamics regarding not only media logic but also new political landscapes (Simón-Salazar, 2018). By analysing tweets tagged with hashtags related to televised political campaigns regarding the Referendum for a new constitution in Chile we can explore how users in social media react to these campaigns but also how they conceived and participate in this electoral process.

The Chilean electoral legislation establishes a televised campaign for a month before the elections, in which different options have televised space to present their propaganda, twice a day during that period (CNTV, 2020). Furthermore, televised propaganda has been considered as part of political mediatization in the Chilean context, which not only includes political elements but also cultural and artistic elements (Simón-Salazar, 2018). In that sense, the study of online texts related to televised electoral spots becomes relevant to explore how various political discourses are constructed on social networks in contexts of media hybridization and how these potentially contribute to the expansion of the political debate.

The exploration of the discussion carried out on social networks about the televised political campaign can provide valuable information to explore the process of the referendum to change the Chilean constitution, a process that emerges from a wave of protests in October 2019 against the sociopolitical model imposed in the country during the dictatorship (Palacio-Valladares, 2020). The data analyzed in this research refers to tweets marked with the hashtag related to the national plebiscite of the October 2020 televised campaign (#franjaelectoral) for the options Apruebo (approve) and Rechazo (reject) a new constitution for the country.

A pilot study was carried out that analyzed 2000 tweets marked with the hashtag. This study is a qualitative investigation that was carried out in two stages: a first stage in which there were identified, and coded different semiotic resources and the main topics discussed, and a second stage in which there were identified the main discursive strategies found in a sample of tweets (Reisigl & Wodak, 2016). The results show that users who participate with this hashtag argue about the content presented on TV: evaluate the quality of the arguments, identify hate speech, criticize the participation of political figures, among others. In addition, various multimodal elements such as clips and screenshots of the televised strip are integrated, providing evidence on the process of media hybridization on these platforms.

CNTV (2020). Evaluación de la Franja Plebiscito 2020. Consejo Nacional de Televisión.

Chadwick, A. (2017). The hybrid media system: Politics and power. New York: Oxford University Press

Simón-Salazar, H. 2018. Television, Democracy, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics. Lanham (Maryland): Lexington Books

Reisigl, M., & Wodak, R. (2016). The discourse-historical approach (DHA). In: Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Studies (pp. 23-61). London: SAGE

177 | William Dance

Disinformation, fake news, and licentious discourses: a history of disinforming terms

Disinformation (intentionally factually incorrect content designed to deceive and misinform) is now a prominent global issue with more than 50 governments worldwide enacting or proposing legislation, task forces and investigations to address its spread (Funke and Flamini, 2019). While research has examined the history of disinformation as a concept (propaganda; manipulative discourse), there are fewer examples of studies exploring the history of disinformation as a term. To start addressing this gap, this paper traces terms such as disinformation and fake news back through large historical corpora to address the following two research questions:

1) How far back can these terms be traced?

2) What other synonyms and near-synonyms have been used throughout the centuries?

Historical corpora offer researchers “invaluable qualitative evidence of linguistic forms in context” (Mair, 2009, p. 1105) and can present otherwise inaccessible records in the form of machine-readable documents. This research finds that written documents addressing disinforming terms date back hundreds of years and discovers several competing terms. These synonyms are examined for their frequency over time to see which variants had greater longevity and which were relatively transient.

These historical corpus analyses are complemented by tracing the contexts in which the term disinformation is used as far back as the 1800s. Combining large-scale diachronic linguistic analysis with important cultural, social and technological milestones gives a nuanced understanding of how these terms have developed over time and why some have fallen out of use, while others have remained. Further, it is important to challenge myths surrounding disinformation itself, such as that is a new phenomenon, or something that was only brought about by the advent of social media.

Finally, modern discourses surrounding disinforming terms from large social media corpora are compared to these historical examples to explore if discussions of disinformation have changed over time. These comparisons will help to determine if attitudes towards disinformation have remained stable or if they have shifted over time, and whether certain disinforming terms (misinformation; disinformation; fake news) are used differently to each other.

Critical approaches to disinformation studies have so far been limited (Kuo and Marwick, 2021) and understanding the sociohistorical contexts of these terms, including how they are used in contemporary times, is important in addressing the production and spread of false content. Disinformation is inextricably tied to historical, social and political events and beginning to disentangle these with combined qualitative-quantitative research will further our understanding of a centuries-old issue.

Funke, D and Flamini, D. (2019). A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world. Poynter. Retrieved from:

Kuo, R., & Marwick, A. (2021). Critical disinformation studies: History, power, and politics. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review.

Mair, P. (2009). Corpora and the study of recent change in language. In A. Lüdeling and M. Kytö (Eds.), Corpus Linguistics, Volume 2 (pp. 1091-1108). De Gruyter: Berlin.

188 | Marcos Morgado

Mediatising Resistance to Contemporary Fascism on YouTube: Voicing Dissent in Brazilian Rap

In recent years, an on-going shift from more progressive political, social and cultural relations towards a more conservative turn around the world has been under way. A fascist political stance (STANLEY, 2018) has been noted in different parts of the globe and politicians have been able to gather followers dissatisfied with crumbling economies by usually making recourse to an “us versus them” discourse. Such dissatisfaction and bias have found fertile ground in social media platforms, e.g. Facebook and WhatsApp, and elevated the tensions around such issues to a level never before seen. In the 2018 presidential election in Brazil, similar tensions were fuelled by a candidate with an authoritarian, xenophobic and misogynistic discourse. More importantly, that authoritarian discourse did not go unchallenged and the same social media platforms were home for constant resistance to it such as, for instance, the movement #nothim, created by the Facebook group “Women United against Bolsonaro”, and the rap/hip hop movement in Brazil, which released protest songs and a manifesto called "Rap for Democracy” on YouTube. In this paper, we focus on one music video in particular, ‘Primavera Fascista’ (“Fascist Spring”) to present a multimodal analysis of how resistance to that candidate’s discourse was constructed. We look into visual, sound, musical and linguistic resources (KRESS, 2010; MACHIN, 2010). Drawing upon a view of language as performative (PENNYCOOK, 2004; 2007), we use the analytical constructs of entextualization (BAUMAN & BRIGGS, 1990) and indexicality (BLOMMAERT, 2005; 2010) to show that the rap song is an exhaustive discursive exercise of metapragmatic reflexivity on the performative effects of a number of fascist statements produced by the candidate.

193 | Anu Harju

Death and data: Digital afterlife as a relational and discursive accomplishment

In March, 2019, fifty-one people were killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, live-streamed through Facebook Live by the perpetrator. Showing death and dying through the vantage point of the killer, familiar from first-person shooter games, the massacre quickly went viral. Relying on the networked, commercial digital platforms, the gruesome recording not only rendered terrorist violence into an instance of spectacular death (Morse, 2020), it also showcases how “the temporality of liveness is fused with the reality of horror as a mode of entertainment for the masses” (Ibrahim, 2020, 812). Documenting (and showing) real death, while rare on any occasion (Malkowski, 2017), executed in this way contributes to a particular digital afterlife of the victims, where the perpetrator’s gaze contributes to and remains in the digital artefact’s affective layers.

This study explores the digital afterlife of mediated, violent death and examines how data figures in the post-mortem memory and digital afterlife, in collective remembering and shows of solidarity that follow. From a discourse studies perspective, this article examines digital afterlife as a discursive accomplishment anchored in data, viewing it as a relational construct emerging in the digital context as social media users interact with each other and engage with data artefacts that, in turn, contribute to the construction of digital afterlife and the many meanings embedded in it. In particular, I will elaborate on the relationship and complementarity of data afterlife (the socio-technical dimension) and data as afterlife (the emotional dimension) as co-constitutive dimensions of digital afterlife (Harju & Huhtamäki, 2021).

Thus, looking at how emotion is discursively constructed as in integral part of digital afterlife, I will also discuss the ways in which the materiality of data allows affective relatedness in digital spaces while also having a fragile, volatile element to it. Empirical material includes material collected from Twitter in the context of the Christchurch mosque attacks in 2019.

Analysing the dynamic and discursive construction of digital afterlife from a perspective that considers the role of data and emotion helps understand the role of materiality of data in the construction of digital afterlife and the implications this has for the fluid and situated nature of digital afterlife while including the socio-political dimension of mediated death (Harju, 2019) and hierarchies of grievability (Morse, 2018) as public death resonates with diverse audiences, some standing with the victims, some with the perpetrator.


Harju, A. A. & Huhtamäki, J. (2021). “#hellobrother needs to trend”: Methodological reflections on the digital and emotional afterlife of mediated violence. International Review of Sociology

Harju, A. A. (2019). Mediated commemoration, affect alienation, and why we are not all Charlie: solidarity symbols as vehicles for stance-taking. Thanatos, 8(2), 165-202

Ibrahim, Y. (2020). Livestreaming the ‘wretched of the Earth’: The Christchurch massacre and the ‘death-bound subject’. Ethnicities, 20(5), 803–822

Malkowski, J. (2017). Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary. Duke University Press

Morse, T. (2018). The construction of grievable death: Toward an analytical framework for the study of mediatized death. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 21 (2), 242-258

Morse, T. (2020). Now trending: #Massacre. On the ethical challenges of spreading spectacular terrorism on new media. In M. H. Jacobsen (Ed.), The Age of Spectacular Death, pp. 126-143. Routledge

299 | Jerome Tessuto

Investigating interpersonal language for discourse features of stance and engagement in health blogs

The multifunctional nature and use of blogs as a text type or genre (Herring et al. 2005, 2013; Myers 2010; Garzone 2020) has massively instantiated across diverse fields, such as public relations, marketing, science, and politics, making it extremely easy for anyone to become an online publisher, personalise content, ensure the interpersonal dimension of communication around their blog niches, and build communities of practice worldwide. When it comes to the take-up of blogging in the health field, writers can provide relevant, compelling information on a variety of health topics and create a public engagement forum for a wider audience. But, more significantly, they can frame their own ideas, attitudes, positions, and identities in ways that are reflective of writer-reader social interaction achieved by a diverse array of discoursal decisions made in text, thus contributing to the interactional dimension of (social media) discourse in the blog genre.

This paper examines how bloggers use the rhetorical options available by interpersonal language to inform a diverse audience of the health topics they write about in the public genre. Using a representative corpus of UK health blog posts, this study thus explores the ways bloggers position themselves towards the material they discuss and those with which they communicate through stance and engagement patterns suggested in Hyland’s (2005) model of interpersonal discourse. Quantitative and qualitative findings of textual data show variation in the frequency and function of these discourse features as writers seek to lay the groundwork for their own perspectives, knowledge and expertise on the topics under debate and establish levels of interpersonal solidarity with readers in online discourse. It is argued that variation in these rhetorical choices not only helps to account for the ways blog writers organise arguments, positions, and forms of interaction for the audience to see as most appropriate and persuasive, but also for the ways blog writers identify themselves with an issue-based ideological identity constructed by the rhetoric of stance meaning-making resources.


Garzone, Giuliana Elena 2020. Specialised Discourse and Popularization in English. Rome: Carocci.

Herring, Susan C. & Inna Kouper, John C. Paolillo, Lois A. Scheidt, Michael Tyworth, Peter Welsch, Elijah Wright, & Ning Yu. 2005. Conversations in the blogosphere: An analysis ‘from the bottom up’. In Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS’05), IEEE Press, Los Alamitos, 1-11.

Herring, Susan, Dieter Stein, & Tuija Virtanen. 2013. Pragmatics of computer-mediated communication. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Hyland, Ken. 2005. Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies, 7(2): 173–192.

325 | John Richardson, Ed de Quincey, Eva Haifa Giraud, & Elizabeth Poole

Contesting condolences: critiquing politician's (in)sincerity on Twitter

The attacks on two Mosques in Christchurch (15 March 2019) represent the most egregious terrorist outrage suffered in New Zealand. 51 people were murdered and 40 injured by an extreme-right terrorist. Using a combined keyword and hashtag search, our research project sampled a large corpus of tweets on/about the terrorist attack and its repercussions. 3,099,138 tweets were posted on the Christchurch attack between 15 March 2019 to 15 April 2019, and this paper focuses on the 1000 most retweeted tweets within this date range. A significant portion of these tweets offered condolences for the victims (n=205) and/or support for the survivors (n= 121), however a notable number of accounts responded by quote-tweeting the condolences of politicians, disputing or rejecting their sentiments. These disputants argued that the felicity conditions (Searle 1969; Levinson 2015) of the condolence were not met - specifically the sincerity conditions - in a manner we summarise as following: 'the Speech Act [condolence] misfires because [past statement or action] entails that you lack sincerity'. Although formally fallacious (they commit the Tu quoque variant of the ad hominem fallacy) these tweets are rhetorically persuasive, in part because they assume a shared commitment to probity in politics and public life, and in part because they invoke a discourse of indignation. Drawing upon recent work on the affective dimensions of rhetoric (Martin 2014; Milani & Richardson 2021) - and specifically the insight that 'reasoned arguments are legitimated [...] by appealing to appropriate emotional responses' (Augoustinos et al 2018: 109) - our rhetorical analysis will focus on the ways that people invoke anger at the past actions of politicians to justify rejecting their statements in the present.


Augoustinos, Martha, Brianne Hastie & Peta Callaghan. 2018. Apologising for past wrongs: emotion-reason in political discourse, in Smith, Laurajane, Wetherell, Margaret. & Campbell, Gary (eds.) (2018) Emotion, Affective Practices and the Past in the Present, pp.105-123. London & New York: Routledge

Levinson, Stephen C. 2015. Speech acts. In Yan Huang. (ed.), The Oxford handbook of pragmatics, 199-216. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Martin, James. 2014. Politics and Rhetoric: A Critical Introduction. London/New York: Routledge

Milani, Tommaso M. & John E. Richardson. 2021. Discourse and affect, Social Semiotics, 31:5, 671-676

Searle, John R. 1969. Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press