Ausgabe 76/2012

CDA 2.0 – Leserkommentarforen aus kritisch-diskursanalytischer Perspektive. Eine explorative Studie am Beispiel der Online-Zeitung

Niku Dorostkar & Alexander Preisinger

CDA 2.0 - reader commentaries from a critical discourse analytical perspective. An exploratory case study on the discussion boards of the Austrian news portal

Project “”, funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research within the programme “Sparkling Science” (project duration: 2010-2012, project manager: Rudolf de Cillia)

While certain web-based communicative forms, such as chat or e-mail, have become a preferred subject of linguistic analysis, little has been said about online discourses in general as well as discussion boards in particular. Furthermore, there are hardly any investigations of readers’ comments in discussion boards of online newspapers, even though they represent an online genre which seems to gain more and more popularity.

The fact that online discourses have hardly been subjected to discourse analysis, especially critical discourse analysis, is remarkable for several reasons. First, within online discourse analysis it is possible to build corpora consisting of easily available online texts which occur in a ‘natural’ communication situation. As the data is not elicited by the researcher, a bias towards social desirability can therefore be obviated during data gathering. Second, such online texts mirror discourses, which are not carried by public figures such as experts, journalists or politicians (in the sense of an institutional discourse or ‘elite-discourse’) but by ‘ordinary’ citizens being their recipients (in the sense of a non-institutional discourse or ‘everyday-discourse’). Third, online discourses like those related to the discussion boards of online newspapers contain profoundly opinion oriented and argumentative statements with regard to socially relevant topics and problems, and they are characterised by strong inter-discursive and inter-textual links. However, discussion boards allow readers not only to exchange opinions about journalistic articles and topics of public interest, but they often also include, at least implicitly, racist and discriminatory language usage.

Our contribution deals with an Austrian case study on racist and discriminatory discourse and argumentation strategies in the discussion boards of the Austrian online newspaper This news portal constitutes one of the most actively used news sites in Austria, which seems to be at least partly due to the integration of discussion boards on their sites. At first, we will consider discussion boards as a communicative form characterised by linguistic features different to chat and e-mail. We will also elaborate on the technical and functional composition of the discussion boards on Furthermore, we will present an analysis of the reader’s postings from a critical-discursive perspective following the discourse-historical approach, where the readers’ comments on articles on migration and language are investigated against the background of online-specific communication and Austrian migration politics. Another subject of discussion will be areas of conflict between freedom of expression, deliberative democracy and the moderation (the ‘censoring’) of the discussion boards by the editorial staff of with the help of semi-automated tools for filtering out explicit racist postings. Finally, we will discuss chances and risks of the investigated discussion boards regarding discursive and social practices within democratically constituted societies and address the question which actions can be taken to improve the quality of such discussion boards.


The impact of types of analogy on first language acquisition.

Wolfgang U. Dressler & Sabine Laaha