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Constructing a corpus from the web: message boards

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Chapter Summary

This paper investigates the challenges and chances involved in creating a corpus of message board (or internet forum) language, in particular one that also reflects the regional varieties of English. Message boards as an asynchronic and public form of computer-mediated communication function as an ‘electronic agora’ (Largier 2002: 287), in so far as they are used for a variety of functions ranging from the more private to the more public, including the discussion of highly topical socio-political subject-matter. Thus, content orientation, evaluation and interactive argumentation are potential characteristics of this text form. Firstly, the technical aspects of corpus compilation will be highlighted, examining such matters as how to transform the web interface into a suitably annotated corpus, how to adequately represent the sequencing/relatedness of messages and how to establish regional speaker identities. Secondly, a pilot study on interaction and stance markers will examine how these are realized and distributed in this genre, and whether there are any regional differences in their use.



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