Tuesday, 21 April 2009

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"There is nothing in your life that does not have meaning"... but how do we express the meaning of our thoughts? Often with words! So write and speak clearly, if you want others to understand you easily and correctly!
English is a reader responsible language: don't forget it, and do your best to make your message as readable as possible!


Task 1
Reflecting on text structure, I think that blog posts generally follow the 'traditional' structure of academic writing. I maintain that any text should have an introduction, a body and a conclusion to be considered coherent and logically consistent. As we pointed out in class, the introduction serves the purpose of immediately telling what the text is about, what its author aims at; the body is the central part of the text where the writer widely develops the subject; finally, the conclusion reinforces what has just been written or demonstrated, asserting the same contents of the introduction definitively. As far as my blog posts are concerned, I think that I usually followed this structure. I always began my posts with greetings, and immediately placed the subject matter I was going to develop in the message: I believe that I can well call this part an introduction to the whole text. Then I developed the subjects of my posts, trying to always be as logical and concise as possible. This is very important when you write in English since English is a writer responsible language, which means the reader is supposed to make as little effort as possible to understand the message. I also concluded my posts with a final statement summarising the previous contents, and with greetings. So, I think that I always followed this structure when writing my blog posts because I'm convinced this is the most coherent, logical way to organize any kind of text.
As concerns the 'academic' blogs we found in e-tivity 5, I think there are both similarities and differences between them and my blog posts. As far as similarities are concerned, the most evident one is undoubtedly the fact that they contain greetings, too because they are meant to be far nearer to verbal interaction than other genres, such as academic articles or essays. I think that the main purpose of blogs – be they academic or not – is to share useful information, and sharing information always implies interaction. This is the reason why bloggers, besides providing information about a specific subject, are constantly concerned to keep some kind of interaction with their audience. As far as differences are concerned, the subject, and consequently, the register of the message is undoubtedly the main one. Blogs we found in e-tivity 5 treat personal learning environments, which is a serious subject: a lot of research has been carried out on it. On the contrary, my blog is about my language learning. So, blogs about personal learning environments are much more formal than my blog is. My blog is primarily meant as a means for my English course, that is a means for improving my English, and to be read by my peers. Academic blogs are intended, written, and maintained for a much greater number of readers who bloggers generally don't know. This is the reason why it's always very important for these people to write their posts carefully, deeply reflecting upon the audience's expectations.

Task 2
Since I'm becoming even more interested in the blogosphere, I chose an academic article who examines identity and language use among male and female teenagers creating and maintaining blogs. Its title is Gender, Identity, and Language Use in Teenage Blogs. As far as text structure is concerned, this article perfectly follows the so-called hourglass structure: there is an introduction, a central body where the research is developed, and a conclusion summing up what the study has examined. Since this is an article, the argument is developed on a large scale broken down into smaller parts. Each part then contains claims that are supported by data with underlying warrants. For example, in the first part immediately following the introduction metalinguistic signaling devices like first, next, thus, finally, in short are used. The whole article is structured like this. Other words used to logically link sentences are however, on the one hand, on the other hand, in either case, by contrast, similarly, for instance. It's quite obvious that academic writing makes use of this kind of formal linking words. This is a research article that is supposed to expose the results of the study carried out in a clear, logical way, so that the reader can understand all the steps of the article easily. Cohesion is another characteristic that academic writing should have to be clear and redeable. Examples are the following sentences: “these features are especially important...” where the demonstrative these is pointing back to the points previously developed, or “there were two scores” where there were is pointing forward in the text. Similar examples of both cataphoric and anaphoric reference can be easily found throughout the article. The purpose of these types of reference is to make as easy as possible the reader's understanding of the various parts making up the text structure. As concerns the complexity of this article, I think it's quite simple and clear. Not only are short sentences preferred to complex ones, but also lists, graphics as well as tables are used to expose the information. For example, when explaining the purposes of the study a list made up of four items is used: “of particular interest to us is: 1) the extent...; 2)how emotive features...; 3) how sexual identity... 4) how language is used... . Many further examples could be provided. In this way, the text is much easier to understand, and the steps easier to follow.
Finally, as far as the text's assumed audience is concerned, I don't think there is a specific audience intended to read this article. Obviously, it's meant for people interested in this topic, and in new virtual means of communication in general. I can also assume that it's not meant for adolescents because it would be very difficult for them to understand it.
I believe that all these points should be followed when writing blog posts, too. A blog post should always be formed from an introduction, a central body, and a conclusion, and each of these parts should be evident to the reader. Finally, messages on the blog should be logical, cohesive, clear, and bloggers should keep in mind who their assumed readers are. In short, what changes is the subject and the consequent way of using language, but the structure, logic, cohesion, coherence, and clarity should all be followed in a blog post, too.
That's all for now!
See you soon,

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