Self-praise online and offline
The hallmark speech act of social media?
In contrast to the assumptions of linguistic research on face-to-face interaction, CMC studies have shown that self-promotion is acceptable and even desired in certain online contexts. However, investigations of self-praise online repeatedly refer to the specific features of internet environment or internet communities that cause a temporary suspension of the constraint against self-praise. The constraint itself is treated as somewhat of an axiom. The assumption is, therefore, that the speech act of self-praise is face-threatening and disruptive and can only occur when certain conditions prevail, for example, when a disclaimer #humblebrag is provided. In the present study, I look at self-praise in private WhatsApp chats. Until now, self-praise has been investigated in broadcasting contexts of Twitter and Instagram. On the basis of the existing description of these naturally occurring episodes of self-praise, a retrieval strategy is developed to identify self-praise in a corpus through queries for collocations of lexical markers. An analysis of the episodes of self-praise retrieved from the WhatsApp corpus and some preliminary results from the corpus of spoken American English support the tentative hypothesis that self-praise is an unmarked speech behaviour that is a part of an everyday speech act repertoire. The existing claim about its special status could be explained through a combination of intuitive assumptions carried over from the influential studies of the pre-corpus era, and the retrieval methods that targeted the modified self-praise.
Keywords: self-praise, self-enhancement, bragging, self-presentation, speech acts, computer-mediated communication, WhatsApp
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