Interpersonal Aspects of an English Language Internet Travel Forum
David Banks [+]
Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest, France
In 2015, I wrote a paper entitled “Notes on interpersonal aspects of an Internet travel forum”. This was an analysis of a small sample of postings from a French site (Routard) relating to a close destination, Brittany, and a distant destination, Namibia. The analysis showed that the Namibia sample had a smaller more closely-knit community than the Brittany sample. The Brittany sample used more epistemic modality, and more mental than material processes, showing that the participants were more concerned with what they feel and think. The Namibia sample displayed more dynamic modality, and had more material than mental processes, showing that the participants are more concerned with practicalities. This paper is a parallel study for an English language site. The site chosen is Tripadvisor; the close destination is Northumberland, and the distant destination, again, Namibia. The sample is made up of ten exchanges for each destination. Where an exchange is longer than ten turns, the first ten turns are taken, though this is only the case in the Namiba sample. The size of the Namibia sample is 8616 words (including names, dates and headings), while the size of the Northumberland sample is only 2896 words showing that the Namibia exchanges tend to be roughly three times longer than the Northumberland exchanges. The differences between the two samples are fairly slight, but among those that appear are the following. Questions have a greater tendency to be indirect in the Namibia sample. Modal expressions are more likely to be epistemic in the Namibia sample, and dynamic in the Northumberland sample. Deontic modality is rare in both, but more common in the Nambia sample. Also rare are affective mental processes, but nevertheless they are more frequent in the Northumberland sample. Overall the participants in the Namibia sample seem more involved and closer to forming a virtual community than the participants in the Northumberland sample.