Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



Building a speech community requires building a shared history of communicative interaction. Within a virtual medium, speech community members employ accommodations for the lack of shared physical space that face-to-face interactions provide. These accommodations, amassing through extended discourse, bring to light the communicative strategies that virtual interlocutors employ in order to build community. Drawing from a corpus of unscripted, naturally occurring discourse of a particular virtual speech community, I engage three frames of linguistic analysis in order to recognize the communicative strategies that constitute speech community building. Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995) accounts for the individual cognitive work involved in asserting membership in a speech community. (Im)politeness Theory (Culpeper 1996) accounts for the negotiation of membership in a speech community via impolite interactions. Stance Theory (Du Bois 2007) accounts for the intersubjectivity of said negotiation, where members situate themselves within the community through their discourse. Each of the three models serve to highlight particular aspects of speech community building but fall short of accounting for the intricate endeavors of entering, maintaining membership in, and negotiating place in a speech community that exists with other speech communities within a larger culture. I propose the ethnopragmatic method, or EPM, which emphasizes the importance of each level of the discourse world (the EP world) – the individual, interlocutors, speech communities, and the larger culture. Each level of the EP world contains histories of interaction, which ultimately inform discourse meaning. While the EPM is too cumbersome for utility as a discourse analytic model, it nonetheless serves to showcase the multi-faceted and interdependent phenomena involved in communicative interaction.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Brody, Mary Jill



Included in

Linguistics Commons