Naming or Shaming? Presentations of the Self in Specialised Weblog Discourse


  • Richard Chapman



During examination of data from a small, specialised corpus, unexpected elements were identified inviting further analysis. Characteristic instances of naming behaviour were observed, prompting deeper investigation into this aspect of web discourse.

A corpus of around 100,000 tokens was assembled over a single day in 2014 by collecting contributions to a weblog discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Research aims were to observe linguistic behaviour over a limited timescale and involving a specific, highly controversial topic. Examination of methodological issues concerned with small corpora and how they should be interrogated was a secondary aim. Data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively, with a stated intention from the outset to employ a hands-on approach as much as possible.

Various problems emerged, the most suggestive being employment of names and highly pragmatic discourse features in curious ways. A rereading of data concentrating on names, other forms of self-presentation, and attempts to impose identities on others, suggested a need for discourse-level analysis of linguistic behaviour in weblogs, since naming devices often appear as phrases rather than individual words (although they present as a single token with no spaces) and presuppose a textual environment, pragmatic interpretation and a form of dialogue.


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Articles: Special Section