Wednesday 10th April, 2013
1:40pm to 2:10pm
The language of tweeting represents an instance of Internet- and mobile phone-mediated communication which allows users to address a networked audience (i.e a stratified and interconnected audience consisting of real and potential viewers of tweets) thus cutting across the boundaries of discourse communities. As a consequence, the use of Twitter has been rapidly spreading among many professional categories which utilize this microblogging platform to reach a potentially global audience. In particular, an increasing number of scholars and academics has been exploiting Twitter to promote their work as well as the conferences they organize or attend. As a consequence, conference live-tweeting, i.e engaging on the microblogging platform Twitter for a continuous period of time with a sequence of focused entries (“tweets” of 140 characters) in order to cover an unfolding conference live event has become a very common practice in the world of academia.
Building on a previous study on conference live tweeting as a means of disseminating knowledge, this paper intends to investigate conference Twitter entries under a systemic-functional perspective, focusing on how the interpersonal function is realized. As suggested by Michele Zappavigna, “microblogging is rarely about presenting bald facts or narrating activity [ …] We use social media in the service of sharing values as a way of communicating our experience of the world and bonding with others”. In light of these considerations, it is legitimate to expect that conference live tweets realize an interpersonal function as well as share information. In this study I investigate the main language strategies adopted by scholars in conference tweets so as to build rapport, that is to say to construct their academic identity and establish a connection with their audience.
Particular attention is devoted to those metadiscursive elements which Hyland defines engagement markers as they explicitly address the readers, either by selectively focusing their attention or by including them as participants in the text. In order to analyze engagement markers and the other language devices which carry out the interpersonal function an ad hoc corpus of conference live tweets has been collected and processed both manually and with software for corpus interrogation.
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