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Abstract

Abstract

The paper investigates formal language in persuasive discourse on the /CMV subreddit. We collected a corpus of 100 million messages, split into subcorpora based on the user-awarded marker , which rewards changing an original poster’s view. Assuming that formality/informality is potentially an important factor in the persuasiveness of a message, we examine the two subcorpora with respect to formality markers. The results indicate no systematic variation along the formality/informality continuum between persuasive and non-persuasive posts on /CMV. The posters use personal pronouns, suasive verbs, emphatics, imperatives, elaborate connectors and WH-questions with similar frequency, and express themselves using vocabulary and syntax of similar complexity. Moreover, keyword lists and n-gram rankings indicate no register difference. A qualitative analysis of concordance lines for and paints a picture of a community that values factual, evidence-based discourse and openness to logical persuasion, with a linguistic norm of relatively formal, sophisticated register.

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/content/journals/10.1075/ip.00072.day
2021-04-06
2021-04-14
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: register variation; corpus pragmatics; change my view; Reddit; persuasive language
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