LANGUAGE USAGE IN COMMUNICATING KNOWLEDGE ON THE WEB PAGE
Published: Collected research articles, Bulletin of Russian Communication Association "THEORY OF COMMUNICATION AND APPLIED COMMUNICATION", Issue 1 / Edited by I.N. Rozina, Rostov-on-Don: Institute of Management, Business and Law Publishing, 2002. - 168 p. P. 8-14
This article concerns some questions of Linguistic Design of the Web page. The research of traditions and tendencies in Linguistic Design of the Web page should be based on principles of the systemic analysis. That means that when studying what grammar forms, and stylistic means, and various layers of vocabulary are used, and we are to answer the question "Why especially these units are used?" taking into account such parameters as cognitive process, social life of the community, ethnical characteristics and cultural traditions of those who introduce information and those who are addressees because all characteristics are reflected in the Linguistic Design of the Web page.
At dawn of the 21st century the mankind faces new possibilities to communicate knowledge and thoughts using electronic technologies and natural national languages as well as images and sounds.
A new cyberspace has been created by Man to provide people with great opportunity of exchanging ideas and emotions all over the world despite distance and place.
The term computer-mediated communication has appeared defining a new subject matter of analysis in various realms of scientific cognition. Engineers, mathematicians and designers (Bollen & Heylighen 1996, Spool, Scanlon and oth.1997), linguists, sociologists and psychologists (Jones 1995; Harrison & Stephen 1995; Herring 1995; Haythornthwaite & Wellman 1998; Harrison & Stephen 1998) study peculiarities of interaction Man-computer to make it work easier and better.
Computational linguistics as a new branch of linguistics has taken its place among other linguistic disciplines. Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine published by J. December outlines traditions and transitions in studying computer-mediated communication (December, 1995).
The recent development of technologies for computer-mediated communication has generated new trends and aspects of scientific research. At the end of the 20th century The Internet entered our life and the language function and speech practice in the World Wide Web based on the hypertext technology are hot topics in linguistic research and discussions alongside relatively old questions about the phenomenon of artificial intellect (AI) and problems of machine translation (Gorodetsky 1989).
Let me remind that as for linguistic research of the Internet- communication, teachers of foreign languages were the first to highlight the possibility as well as necessity to study a language in the course of Internet-communication practice (Dudeney 2000, Isbell & Reinhardt 1999, Li & Hart 1996; Makarova 2001, Sperling 1997, Warschauer 1995, Atabekova 2000a, Makarova 2001,Vasyanina 2000, Vorontsova 2001, and others).
Linguists that carry out their analysis within theoretical framework stress that The Internet can exist only with the use of natural language as a means of communication between human beings (Winograd & Flores 1986, Crystal 2001).
That is why I consider it necessary to underline that language itself as a semiotic system of signs must become a subject-matter in the analysis of the Net-communication.
Linguists should focus on the question Are there any special features in using language units in the course of communication on the Net?
I think those involved in this kind of linguistic research will answer the question positively. Both the work of my colleagues and results of my own experiment bring me to this conclusion.
For instance, Russian linguist L. Kapanadze investigated peculiarities of electronic genres generated in the course of communication in charts and conferences (Kapanadze, 2001) and there is a discussion about the normative usage of the language (Butorina, 1990, Trofimova, 2000)
I have introduced the term Linguistic Design of the Web page to characterize the subject matter of my research (Atabekova, 2000b). As my readers can understand by the combination of the words web page, I neither focused on synchronic Internet-communication nor studied asynchronic ways such as e-mail, for instance.
First I though it would be interesting to analyze language potential in representing results of cognition of the objective reality surrounding us in written non-spontaneous medium on the Internet sites. Now, after researching these matters to some extent, I consider it important and necessary. Let me prove this statement of mine. It goes without saying the Internet is a great place to storage information that can meet even the most unexpected needs of people. But the effectiveness of knowledge representation and exchange as well as the speed of access to the information searched for much depends on those linguistic means we use to characterize our cognitive achievements and express our necessities.
Thus, we can say that Linguistic Design of the Web page means the combination of heterogeneous linguistic units to represent knowledge on the Internet sites.
You can say that we always use heterogeneous linguistic units to express our thoughts, i.e. we combine sounds into morphemes, and build words from morphemes, and generate texts-utterances form words. But I should precise that the result of the process is a linear 'one-way' text. If we turn to the web page we see a combination of collaborating texts within the limits of one page. I mean the main linear text and a lot of links sending a user to other web pages, which provide with related topics. This comes from hypertext technology.
Linguists have said more than once that the language structures, forms, and presents our knowledge of the surrounding world; we create a text to describe some situation and express our attitude to it. Thus, you see that on the web page various connected situations reflecting the objective reality are introduced to a potential visitor. The way to introduce them follows certain hierarchy going down from the most standard and general points to more concrete and specific ones.
So the first question in studying Linguistic Design of the Web-page is what linguistic units to use in order to define situations in the right way and to present hierarchy of the knowledge architecture so that to provide full-scale comprehension of the author's purpose by the addressee.
The second one but not less important is what linguistic units to use so that to attract and maintain visitors' attention and collaborate with them because interactivity is the core characteristic of the Internet communication and without it the WWW will die.
I have found that there are some traditions in structuring our knowledge on the web-page through the language usage that at the same time reveals social, cultural and ethnical characteristics of native speakers (Atabekova, 2002).
These traditions deal with actualizing grammar system, using certain stylistic means and combing various layers of vocabulary. And comparative studies based at least on two languages highlight these traditions even more.
In my case it is a comparative analysis of linguistic design of English and Russian web pages.
Let me show and comment on some phenomena discovered through research. There are some traditions common for English and Russian sites. I start with morphology, than go to syntax and than to stylistics.
Full text in Word
About the authors:
Ph.D., Department of Foreign Languages,
Peoples' Friendship University,
Back to LIBRARY
Back to HOME PAGE