[Corpora-List] The genre of the Web

santinim at inwind.it santinim at inwind.it
Thu Sep 22 15:49:00 CEST 2005

Hi Mark,

I've been following the thread on your question on the genre(!) of the Web and feel quite confused by most of the comments. I am working intensively with web genres and I have done a lot of thinking about this issue. I will not give you my personal view because, probably, I can't understand your question thoroughly, and the answer would be too long or misleading for you. But I am wondering: are you interested in "the language used on the Web", or in "web registers" or in "web genres" or ...? These terms are not sheer synonyms even if sometimes they are used interchangeably (for a clarification, have a look at Lee David 2001, "Genres, Registers, Text types, Domains, and Styles: Clarifying the concepts and navigating a path through the BNC Jungle", Language Learning and Technology, Vol. 5, Num. 3, pp. 37-72). I am sure you know the BNC Web Indexer (http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/computing/research/ucrel/bncindex/form.html) where BNC documents can be selected according to many categories).

If you are interested in genres on the Web, have a look at:
Crowston K., Williams M. (1997), "Reproduced and Emergent Genres of Communication on the World-Wide Web", Proceedings of the 30th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-30).
Shepherd M. And Watters C. (1998), "The Evolution of Cybergenre", Proceedings of the 31st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-31).
Shepherd M. And Watters C. (1999), "The Functionality Attribute of Cybergenres", Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-32).
These papers will give you an idea of what kind of changes are taking place on the genre system and genre repertoire on the Web.

If you are interested in web registers, send me an email and I will send you a preliminary study that D. Biber carried out on Yahoo categories last year.

If you interested in web language, maybe you should start with something like "the language and the internet" by Crystal (I am totally sure you are familiar with this book) and related references, such as “The Language of Websites” by M. Boardman, Routledge 2004 etc. From a quantitative point of view, then, I don't know if a project such as "http://www.webcorp.org.uk/" can be useful to you.

I don’t know if this helps...

Good luck

Marina Santini
PhD student at NLTG, Brighton University, UK
santinim at inwind.it
Marina.Santini at itri.brighton.ac.uk

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