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Negotiating meanings online: Disagreements about word meaning in discussion forum communication

Journal article
Authors Jenny Myrendal
Published in Discourse Studies
Volume 21
Issue 3
Pages 317-339
ISSN 14614456
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 317-339
Language en
Keywords CMC, computer-mediated communication, linguistics, meaning potentials, negotiation, pragmatics, semantics, word meaning
Subject categories Linguistics, Human Aspects of ICT

Abstract

© The Author(s) 2019. This article describes word meaning negotiation (WMN) in online discussion forum communication, a form of computer-mediated communication (CMC). WMN occurs when participants who are engaged in a discussion about a particular topic remark on a word choice of another participant, thus initiating a meta-linguistic sequence in which a particular word is openly questioned and the meaning of that word is up for negotiation. By closely studying the process of WMN and focusing on the practices of the participants engaged in it, this article empirically explores how situated meaning in concrete utterances is established by participants who are in disagreement about word meaning. Routine ways of entering into a WMN sequence are identified, as well as typical ways of contributing to the negotiation once the discussion has shifted focus from being on topic to being on word meaning. The article highlights the context-sensitivity of word meanings and illustrates how participants engaged in WMN orient toward both semantic properties of the words themselves as well as to relevant aspects of the conversational context.

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