Linguistic and social dimensions of French-language discussion forums

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This study explores selected linguistic and social dimensions of 20 French-language discussion forums in order to provide teachers and learners of French with an overview of this relatively new type of online communication space. Although the discussion forum is an older type of computer-mediated communication (i.e., compared, for example, to blogs and text messaging), little research has focused on linguistic patterns and tendencies in French-language forums, which seem to vary greatly, depending on any number of factors. As such, this chapter examines the use of second-person pronouns (tu and vous), the subject pronouns nous and on, the variable use of the negative particle ne, and orthographic variation using a corpus-driven approach. The analyses provided here can serve as models or templates for teachers and/or learners who wish to examine these same linguistic and social dimensions in other forums or compare this type of communication to traditional spoken and/or written discourse, either in or beyond the formal learning context of the classroom.


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