I have a lot to learn. I am writing a book about the language of blogs, not the cute acronyms and neologisms, but the ways bloggers use language to build networks, place themselves, report, and argue. I’m doing this because I think blogs are important, and are an emerging genre – that is, they are different from newspapers, home pages, diaries, ads, and other uses of language, and they are changing quickly. They direct our attention to issues about language that we might not see so clearly studying other genres. And I enjoy reading them (most of them), maybe a bit too much.
I will post chapters here from time to time, and students in the courses I teach may be interested in looking at them. I will also post, each week, some of the links I have found relevant to the language of blogs. I’m sure that there is plenty out there for me to find useful links each week, but I’ll stick to my rather narrow topic. So no pictures of our cats.
A word about the blogroll. I understand that on most blogs, the list of linked blogs says something about the identity of the blogger, so if one looks at, say, Instapundit, one finds lots of blogs supporting the war in Iraq, while if one looks at BitchPhD one finds lots of feminist academics. People who study networks in the blogosphere use them in this way. But my blogroll is a changing list of blogs to which I turn for examples. Because of the kind of study I am doing, I look for blogs that
- are relatively popular (the top 10,000 in the Technorati popular list)
- are written by a few identifiable people (since I am interested in styles)
- link to posts in blogs and web pages by other people (so with one exception, these aren’t diaries)
- comment fairly extensively on those links (since I have a chapter on how they do this commenting)
- cover a wide range of interests (because different kinds of blogs have different styles)
- are readable and engaging
So I’m not saying this is any kind of top dozen, or that these bloggers comment on language themselves, or that I agree with the sorts of things these people say (for the record, I don’t agree with much on Instapundit). I’m keeping my eye on about a dozen other blogs, and I expect to add to this list as I go along.
A word about the chapters. I expect to have drafts of all chapter posted by Christmas. In my usual way of writing, the first drafts (A) will have some incomprehensible sentences, factual howlers, organisational problems, and the usual motes and/or beams in my eye. Second drafts (B) will have benefited from correction of some of the botches and howlers, and I will have rethought some of the organisation and terms. Usually by the third draft (C) I have something more readable, though with motes and beams as before. So if you want to see how my thinking is developing, or you want to help me out with comments, look at them now; if you want something more readable and reliable, come back later.
Some links to start with:
- Rebecca Blood’s ‘Weblogs: A History and Perspective’ (from We’ve Got Blog, which I’ll talk about when I get to books on blogs).
- The Guardian has an archive listing all its on-line articles about blogs.
- Carolyn Miller, who has written influential articles on genre in rhetorical studies, has an article co-authored with Dawn Shepherd on 'Blogging as Social Action'.
- Stephanie Nilsson has a good paper called
'A Brief Overview of Linguistic Attributes of the Blogosphere' that does just what it says(pointed out to me by Ryan Davidson).
In coming weeks I’ll list some articles and books.