Conventions and Mutual Expectations – Understanding Sources for Web genres
by Jussi Karlgren
In: Genres on the Web Computational Models and Empirical Studies
Alexander Mehler, Serge Sharoff and Marina Santini
Text, Speech and Language Technology
Volume 42, 2011, DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9178-9
Genres can be understood in many different ways. They are often perceived as a primarily sociological construction, or, alternatively, as a stylostatistically observable objective characteristic of texts. The latter view is more common in the research field of information and language technology. These two views can be quite compatible and can inform each other; this present investigation discusses knowledge sources for studying genre variation and change by observing reader and author behaviour rather than performing analyses on the information objects themselves.
1 Genres are not rule-bound
A useful starting point for genre analysis is viewing genres as artifacts. Genres are instrumental categories, useful for author and reader alike in forming the understanding of a text and in providing the appropriate intellectual context for information acquired through it. Genre distinctions are observable in terms of whom a text is directed to, how it is put together, made up, and presented.
Recognising genres or detecting differences between genres is typically done by identifying stylistic differences with respect to any number of surface characteristics: presence or preponderance of linguistic items, treatment of topical entities, organisation of informational flow, layout characteristics, etcetera. This type of stylistic or non-topical variation can be observed on many levels, and is by no means orthogonal or independent to topical variation — quite to the contrary, it shows strong dependence on subject matter as well as on expected audience and many other contextual characteristics of the communicative situation. [Continue reading excerpts here… or download PDF from here ]