Article in:Functions of Language: Online-First Articles
Understanding context in computer-mediated communication
A focus on Danmaku discourse
With unprecedented transformations taking place in the landscape of what to say and how we mean, interactions in the digital age take on various new forms of doing and being. To make sense of “what it is that is going on” requires an understanding of the context wherein the computer-mediated communications take place. Focusing on a burgeoning online video commenting discourse in mainland China called Danmaku (a media feature that projects viewer comments onto the video, like a ‘bullet curtain’), the present study applies the schematic construct of context of situation and its paradigmatic representation developed in Systemic Functional Linguistics to a functionally-driven discussion of Danmaku context. Drawing on a corpus of comments from 18 well-received videos on Bilibili.com (a major Danmaku site in mainland China), the study provides a fine-grained analysis that highlights emergent technological and semiotic variables in the Danmaku Mode, such as anonymity, invisibility, dynamicity, and pseudo-synchronicity. It then discusses how these variables mediate the properties of Field and Tenor and further impinge upon the experiential and interpersonal meanings made in Danmaku communication. The analysis also highlights the carnivalesque nature of Danmaku which makes it an increasingly popular social media platform in mainland China.
Published online: 19 May 2021
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