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The Pragmatics of Retweeting

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  • 1. The Pragmatics of RetweetingA case study of academic uses of Twitter Dr. Cornelius Puschmann Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Augsburg, 20.04.2012
  • 2. This Talk1. Citing and quoting across genres and media • How is the discourse of others reproduced? • What linguistic problems arise when discourse is reproduced? • How do genre and medium influence quoting?2. From retweeting to quoting? 3. Theoretical implications • Quoting in asynchronous CMC for CMC research • Form and function of retweets • Corpus data • Quoting vs. retweeting
  • 3. How is the discourse of others reproduced?• “The relationship to another‘s words was equally complex and ambiguous in the Middle Ages... the boundary lines between someone else‘s speech and one‘s own speech were flexible, ambiguous, often deliberately distorted and confusing.“ (Bakhtin 1981, p. 69, from Moore 2011)• “[..] reported speech is a crucial linguistic and stylistic problem.“ (Jakobson 1971, p. 130, from Moore 2011)❖ reproducing the discourse of others is a linguistically and technologically complex process
  • 4. How is the discourse of others reproduced? speech speech direct quote source target result reproduced in analog analogwriting writing indirect quote digital digital
  • 5. How is the discourse of others reproduced? speech speech direct quote source target result reproduced in analog analogwriting writing indirect quote digital digital
  • 6. How is the discourse of others reproduced? speech speech direct quote source target result reproduced in analog analogwriting writing indirect quote digital digital
  • 7. How is the discourse of others reproduced? speech speech direct quote source target result reproduced in analog analogwriting writing indirect quote digital digital
  • 8. How is the discourse of others reproduced?• Quotatives to mark direct quotation in English: • spoken: reporting verbs, be like X, be all X • written: quotation marks, italics, indention, color • gesture: air quotes
  • 9. How is the discourse of others reproduced? direct quotation indirect quotationMary said “I love you“. Mary said [that] she loves[/loved] me.encoding of two different harmonization of origo leads toorigos requires an shift inunambiguous marker • tense(e.g. say + quotation marks) • person • pronouns • spatial/temporal expressions addition of (optional) • complementizeroften assumed to be exact assumed to be approximate(+form +meaning) (-form +meaning)❖ use of indirect quotation over direct quotation depends onthe available technological means
  • 10. How do genre and medium influence quoting?• Quoting in journalism: • "Quotes should be faithful to the words and meaning of the speaker." (Clark 1995, para 1)• Quoting in academia: • "Ethics, copyright laws, and courtesy to readers require authors to identify the sources of direct quotations and of any facts or opinions not generally known or easily checked." (Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, p. 594) • "Whenever you quote or base your ideas on another persons work, you must document the source you used." (Online Citation Guide, U of California, Berkeley)
  • 11. Quoting in asynchronous CMC• The advent of the computer has changed the practice of quoting and citing considerably, introducing: • “copy and paste“ • hyperlinking • interface actions for sharing content such as liking on Facebook, reblogging on Tumblr, retweeting on Twitter, etc
  • 12. Quoting in asynchronous CMCjaned@ABC.bigtel.com (Jane Doe) writes:>I cant believe how horrible Natalie looks. Has>she put on a lot of weight?I agree, but she has always had a somewhat round face, so ifshe did put on weight, I think that would be accentuated."For the receiver, quoting serves to situate the response in adiscourse context [..] and thus facilitates the perception of anextended conversation as coherent. For the sender, itfacilitates composition by allowing direct response withouthaving to paraphrase the original message." (Eklundh 2010,para 3)
  • 13. Quoting in asynchronous CMCjaned@ABC.bigtel.com (Jane Doe) writes:>I cant believe how horrible Natalie looks. Has>she put on a lot of weight?I agree, but she has always had a somewhat round face, so ifshe did put on weight, I think that would be accentuated."Quoting creates the illusion of adjacency in that itincorporates and juxtaposes (portions of) two turns [..] within asingle message. When portions of previous text arerepeatedly quoted and responded to, the resulting messagecan have the appearance of an extended conversationalexchange" (Herring 1999, p. 8)
  • 14. Quoting in asynchronous CMC janed@ABC.bigtel.com (Jane Doe) writes: >I cant believe how horrible Natalie looks. Has >she put on a lot of weight? I agree, but she has always had a somewhat round face, so if she did put on weight, I think that would be accentuated. "Quoting creates the illusion of adjacency in that it incorporates and juxtaposes (portions of) two turns [..] within a single message. When portions of previous text are repeatedly quoted and responded to, the resulting message can have the appearance of an extended conversational exchange" (Herring 1999, p. 8)❖ direct quoting in CMC creates the illusion of immediacy
  • 15. Twitter• Twitter is a microblogging service launched in 2006• short messages of up to 140 characters (tweets) are posted through the Twitter website and various clients via a computer or mobile phone• 140 million users• 340 million tweets produced each day• widespread use in news, entertainment, political discourse, activism
  • 16. User timeline single timeline
  • 17. “All friends“ view aggregation of the timelines of other users
  • 18. Native retweetingretweet counter and button
  • 19. Form and function of retweets form function• old form: manual addition of RT @USERNAME or via • pass on information @USERNAME to a copied • comment/respond tweet • present own interests• new form: native retweeting by • build social capital clicking a button
  • 20. The Scientwists Corpus• assembled between January 7th, 2010 and August 31st, 2010• 589 unique users (scientists, science journalists)• 410,609 tweets (~2.3 mio. tokens)• 55% contain a URL• 22% are retweets, of those • 72% unmodified • 28% modified‣ academics use Twitter to disseminate information and comment on the tweets of others
  • 21. Retweets at the Free Culture Research Conference (#fcrc)
  • 22. Examples of unmodified and modified retweets(1) RT @WSJHealth: The Hidden Benefits of Exercise http://bit.ly/ 8R6uG7(2) RT @timmytink I was saving my virginity for Jesus, but I cant resist your intelligent design. #teapartypickuplines(3) I want to know how students use them to improve mine. RT @drisis: RT @palmd Faculty websites suck. Help improve them http://bit.ly/ 8jfdLp(4) interesting reading RT @JohnSharp: Googling Ourselves — What Physicians Can Learn from Online Rating Sites http://tinyurl.com/ yh9lc3r(5) Thanks Ruth! RT @shortyvotes: @DrStuClark, you were nominated by @ruthseeley for a Shorty Award in #astronomy http://bit.ly/5eZcTm
  • 23. Common pragmatic features of retweet comments• interjections (Wow!, Ha!, Yay, LOL!)• evaluative expressions (Nice!, Awesome!, Excellent)• speech acts of thanking and congratulating (Thanks!, Thank You, Congrats!)• expressions signalling agreement (Agreed, Indeed, Yes, Ditto, So true)• use of 1 PP sing (I, me)• use of 2 PP (you)
  • 24. Common pragmatic features of retweet comments• emoticons ( :-) :D ;) )• exclamation marks ( !!! )• questions ( ? )• quotes ( “ )• stars ( * )• reduplication ( aaa|eee|ooo|www|rrr|sss|yyy )
  • 25. Common evaluative expressions in retweet comments• Nice! (67x)• Cool! (66x)• Awesome (65x)• Interesting (52x)• Brilliant! (28x)
  • 26. Use of quotation in retweet comments• Micropig or Piglet? RT @rachel0808 Oh. My. God. Want one: http://bit.ly/ 9cR5B2• ". looking into history of science, one thing really stands out is its glorious unpredictability." http://cot.ag/bhJz7h RT @SETIInstitute• "Climate change scientists in bed with Terrorists" RT @NatureNews Bin Laden says ‘climate change is real’ http://ff.im/-f3Px2• "I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education." -Wilson Mizner (RT @ChrisPirillo)• "larynx" RT @RichNeville: @ozdj "ctenoid" #WordsThatLookKindOfStupid• Hee hee! RT @enniscath: "Would", not "will", surely :) RT @NatNetNews LD Manifesto details how it will affect http://bit.ly/cYJOZp #NatNet• "worst in history" RT @thejives RT @Revkin: Oil Flow Is Stemmed, but Could Resume, Official Says - http://nyti.ms/bdEgyH #oilspill
  • 27. Quoting vs. retweeting“traditional“ citing and quoting retweeting long short planned spontaneous argumentative emotive aimed at reader aimed at reader and quotee quoting (conceptually written) orchestrated dialog (conceptually oral)
  • 28. Theoretical implications for CMC research• form and function of quotation are extended by technology• quotation in newer forms of CMC • tends to be direct because verbatin reproduction comes at no cost to the quoter • tends to be short because long verbatin reproduction comes at a high cost for the reader • blurs the line between quotation and (pseudo-) dialog • is frequently emotive and phatic • is increasingly a form of social grooming, rather than argumentation
  • 29. Thank you for your attention!
  • 30. References• Blyth, C., Recktenwald, S., & Wang, J. (1990). Im like, "Say What?!": A New Quotative in American Oral Narrative. American Speech, 65 (3), pp. 215-227.• Clark, H. H., & Gerrig, R. J. (1990). Quotations as demonstrations. Language, 66 (4), pp. 764-805.• Coulmas, F. (1986). Direct and Indirect Speech. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter, 1986.• Herring, S.C. (1999). Interactional Coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4 (4).• Severinson Eklundh, K. (2010). To Quote or Not to Quote: Setting the Context for Computer-Mediated Dialogues. Language@Internet, 7, article 5.