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Formality in digital discourse: A study of hedging in CANELC

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dawn Knight



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Springer, 2013.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This chapter provides a corpus-based analysis of formality in e-language. It examines how levels of formality differ from one ‘mode’ of e-language to the next, and how these collectively compare to spoken and written discourse, providing the foundations for enhancing our descriptions and understanding of e-language use. The chapter focuses on common indicators of formality in discourse with particular reference to the use of hedging. It profiles the use of specific varieties of this phenomenon, paying particular attention to how the frequency and use of hedges compares from different modes of e-language and text topics to the next, and, more generally, how they compare to one-million-word samples of data taken from the written and spoken BNC. The analyses are based on the newly constructed one-million-word CANELC corpus of digital English. CANELC stands for the Cambridge and Nottingham e-language Corpus. It contains data from online discussion boards, blogs, tweets, emails and SMS messages. The data covers a range of different discursive topics, from the more public concerns of 'news, media and current affairs', through to 'teaching, academia and education’, 'hobbies and pastimes', 'music', 'celebrity news and gossip' to 'personal and daily life'.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Knight D, Adolphs S, Carter R

Editor(s): Romero-Trillo, J

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics 2013: New Domains and Methodologies

Year: 2013

Volume: 1

Pages: 131-152

Online publication date: 09/04/2013

Number of Volumes: 1

Publisher: Springer

Place Published: Dordrecht


DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6250-3_7

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9789400762497