I used this post and comment as examples in a talk to sociolinguistics teachers about language variation in blogs. Thinking about it, I’m struck by the politeness of both texts, though I’m not sure that I can yet pin down everything that makes them polite. But let’s start with:
- Holy crap, Bush really *did* say . . .
Blogs, for all their rough and tumble, set up a kind of solidarity with their readers. So some taboo breaking at the beginning suggests that we are overhearing a gut reaction, not a reaction prepared and softened for others. And the stressed ‘did’ suggests we have seen it or heard about this clip, and would obviously share her reaction. Of course she doesn’t have to tell us her reaction; she can cut to:
- While my jaw was lying on the floor . . .
One of the first comments has a different tone, more serious and straight-faced and rhetorically complex, starting with an elaborate concession before a hedged disagreement:
- while this statement does not convey any respect for t he significance of Pelosi’s new position, I do think . . .
The typos and the lower case mark it as quick and casual, where a careful little essay would be out of proportion to the point (am I right in thinking this came up just 14 minutes after the post?). And a careful little essay would be a po-faced response to a witty remark. But it is serious; the commenter goes to the trouble to provide with the evidence.
In blogs a slip into the wrong tone can be ruthlessly mocked. Here it seems both hyperbolic rudeness and dogged understatement can be just right.