Chapter published in:Language and Social Interaction at Home and School
Edited by Letizia Caronia
[Dialogue Studies 32] 2021
► pp. 351–376
Student-teacher e-mail interaction as asynchronous dialogue in an academic setting
This study analyses a corpus of e-mails exchanged between university students and their teachers, aiming to understand some similarities and differences between computer mediated communication (CMC) and face-to-face dialogue. Methodologically, we combine corpus analysis with systemic functional linguistics to identify patterns of experiential meaning as expressed through verbs, or Processes (Halliday and Matthiessen 2004), looking at how students and teachers co-construct meaning and build rapport via e-mail. The results illustrate both similarities (informality, negotiation, near-synchronicity) and differences (personal disclosure, paralinguistic features) between e-mails and face-to-face dialogue. This seems to indicate that the two should be used in complementary ways to maximize the pragmatic effectiveness of student-teacher interaction, also harnessing the potential of other, more recent CMC technologies, like social networks.
Keywords: Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), corpus linguistics, Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), academic dialogue
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