Approaching Author Identity through First-person Pronouns and Metadiscourse: A study of opinion articles in US news media

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Title: Approaching Author Identity through First-person Pronouns and Metadiscourse: A study of opinion articles in US news media
Author: Kolla, Elena
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern Languages
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This study combines metadiscourse research and sociolinguistic methods to establish which social variables influence the choice of metadiscourse resources containing first-person pronouns in US opinion news texts. The study has three main goals. The first goal is to establish which first-person pronouns are used by the authors of opinion articles, and which social variables influence or at least correlate with their choice of first-person pronouns the most, as well as to study the contexts in which these pronouns are used. The second goal is to establish which metadiscourse resources and to what extent are used by the authors of different social groups. The third goal is to establish if there is any correlation between various social factors and the use of particular metadiscourse resources. The corpus for the study was collected from articles posted on the sites of eleven US news publishers and consists of op-ed texts on politics and social issues along with the information about the authors of these texts including gender, age, ethnic background, education, and occupation. To fulfill these goals the study uses corpus linguistics methods for calculating and comparing the occurrence frequencies of first-person pronouns by social variables and Ken Hyland's interpersonal model of metadiscourse. The results show that social variables do indeed significantly correlate with the choice of first-person pronouns and the metadiscourse resources containing these pronouns. The pronouns that are mostly used are the subject pronouns I and we, the mostly used metadiscourse resources being Self-mentions and Engagement markers. The most prominent social variables that correlate with the use of pronouns are gender and, to a lesser degree, occupation. The female authors of the articles in the corpus use more first-person pronouns than male authors and show a preference for first-person singular pronouns and plural inclusive pronouns while male authors use more first-person plural pronouns. The most noticeable difference in pronoun usage between genders can be observed between male and female journalists; however, journalists of one gender do not differ from each other in either pronoun or metadiscourse use with other factors being equal.
URI: URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201901291189
Date: 2018
Subject: metadiscourse
corpus linguistics
first-person pronouns
Discipline: englantilainen filologia
English Philology
Engelsk filologi

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