9. Hybridization: How language users graft new discourses on old root stock
Hybridity in Systemic Functional Linguistics - Grammar, Text and Discursive Context - Donna R. Miller
Geoff Thompson† [+]
University of Liverpool
Geoff Thompson’s chapter aims at providing a ‘snap-shot’ of one stage in the development of particular internet registers: football and newspaper blogs. Thompson explores the hypothesis that informal speech is ‘the familiar root stock’ onto which features of new discourse types is ‘grafted’, thus producing hybrid texts that are created by the non-expert writer as s/he comes to grips with the unfamiliar discourse types produced by experts. Using corpus-based methods, he specifically attempts to identify patterns of lexicogrammatical features in such texts. On might say that Thompson’s findings are ‘hybrid’ in themselves. If on one hand variation across the sets of blogs clearly emerges from his analysis of the data, in the sense that ‘each set of blogs has generated its own conventions which differ from those of the other sets examined’, then, on the other, he also observes ‘fundamental similarities in their characteristics; and hybridity is one of the major characteristics which they have in common’. The initial hypothesis that informal speech would be the root stock onto which other types of discourse are grafted is substantiated, but Thompson also finds significant evidence that the process takes place in various ways and to varying degrees, depending on numerous factors influencing how bloggers, through their separate contributions to these ongoing texts, manage, to a greater or lesser extent, to negotiate their computer-mediated participation.