Półrocznik Językoznawczy Tertium/ Tertium Linguistic Journal

Vol 3, No 1 (2018)

Addressing and Acknowledging Readers and Writers. Exploring Metadiscourse in Opinion Writing Online

Ylva Biri


Effective opinion writing should present the author’s viewpoint in a convincing way but also engage the reader. Whether the author makes more references to their own viewpoints or to the reader is determined by the context of the text. Metadiscourse is a pragmatic framework of explicit linguistic devices used to make references to the reader, the writer and their evaluations, as well as references to the textual organisation. This paper employs the corpus-driven method Multi-Dimensional Analysis to study statistically significant correlation patterns between metadiscourse markers. Four patterns emerge from a specialized corpus of opinion writing online in English by (semi-)professional writers (285,000 words). The patterns are here thought to represent writers’ strategies to define the relationship between themselves, the reader and the topic. While there are some overlaps and cross-genre tendencies, the metadiscoursal style is to some extent be determined by the prevailing norms of the sub-genre of the text – here, whether the publication platform is a blog, a news site, or the website of a print-newspaper. Blogs tend use a writer-oriented strategy with more self-mentions, and news sites a reader-oriented strategy or a solidarity strategy uniting the reader and writer under a shared “we”-pronoun. The results of the study may be of value both in understanding the journalistic online genres and for the development of the metadiscourse framework.



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