A Corpus-based Register Analysis of Corporate Blogs – Text Types and Linguistic Features

Wu, Y
(2016) A Corpus-based Register Analysis of Corporate Blogs – Text Types and Linguistic Features. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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A main theme in sociolinguistics is register variation, a situation and use dependent variation of language. Numerous studies have provided evidence of linguistic variation across situations of use in English. However, very little attention has been paid to the language of corporate blogs (CBs), which is often seen as an emerging genre of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Previous studies on blogs and corporate blogs have provided important information about their linguistic features as well as functions; however, our understanding of the linguistic variation in corporate blogs remains limited in particular ways, because many of these previous studies have focused on individual linguistic features, rather than how features interact and what the possible relations between forms (linguistic features) and functions are. Given these limitations, it would be necessary to have a more systematic perspective on linguistic variation in corporate blogs. In order to study register variation in corporate blogs more systematically, a combined framework rooted in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), and register theories (e.g., Biber, 1988, 1995; Halliday & Hasan, 1989) is adopted. This combination is based on some common grounds they share, which concern the functional view of language, co-occurrence patterns of linguistic features, and the importance of large corpora to linguistic research. Guided by this framework, this thesis aims to: 1) investigate the functional linguistic variations in corporate blogs, and identify the text types that are distinguished linguistically, as well as how the CB text types cut across CB industry-categories, and 2) to identify salient linguistic differences across text types in corporate blogs in the configuration of the three components of the context of situation - field, tenor, and mode of discourse. In order to achieve these goals, a 590,520-word corpus consisting of 1,020 textual posts from 41 top-ranked corporate blogs is created and mapped onto the combined framework which consists of Biber’s multi-dimensional (MD) approach and Halliday’s SFL. Accordingly, two sets of empirical analyses are conducted one after another in this research project. At first, by using a corpus-based MD approach which applies multivariate statistical techniques (including factor analysis and cluster analysis) to the investigation of register variation, CB text types are identified; and then, some linguistic features, including the most common verbs and their process types, personal pronouns, modals, lexical density, and grammatical complexity, are selected from language metafunctions of mode, tenor and field within the SFL framework, and their linguistic differences across different text types are analysed. The results of these analyses not only show that the corporate blog is a hybrid genre, representing a combination of various text types, which serve to achieve different communicative purposes and functional goals, but also exhibit a close relationship between certain text types and particular industries, which means the CB texts categorized into a certain text type are mainly from a particular industry. On this basis, the lexical and grammatical features (i.e., the most common verbs, pronouns, modal verbs, lexical density and grammatical complexity) associated with Halliday’s metafunctions are further explored and compared across six text types. It is found that language features which are related to field, tenor and mode in corporate blogs demonstrate a dynamic nature: centring on an interpersonal function, the online blogs in a business setting are basically used for the purposes of sales, customer relationship management and branding. This research project contributes to the existing field of knowledge in the following ways: Firstly, it develops the methodology used in corpus investigation of language variation, and paves the way for further research into corporate blogs and other forms of electronic communication and, more generally, for researchers engaging in corpus-based investigations of other language varieties. Secondly, it adds greatly to a description of corporate blog as a language variety in its own right, which includes different text types identified in CB discourse, and some linguistic features realized in the context of situation. This highlights the fact that corporate blogs cannot be regarded as a simple discourse; rather, they vary according to text types and context of situation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2016 08:48
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 19:16
DOI: 10.17638/03000395
  • Zhoulin, R
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3000395