“Hope This Helps!” An Analysis of Expressive Speech Acts in Online Task-Oriented Interaction by University Students

  • Marta CarreteroEmail author
  • Carmen Maíz-Arévalo
  • M. Ángeles Martínez
Part of the Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics book series (YCLP, volume 2)


This paper explores the presence of expressive speech acts in a corpus of e-forum history logs derived from the online collaborative writing activity of three groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students in a tertiary education setting. The macro category of Expressives has been less frequently studied than others such as Directives or Commissives, and even nowadays its in-depth study tends to concentrate on specific subtypes such as Compliments. In computer mediated exchanges, the implicit disembodiment must ensure an outstanding role for expressive uses of language, since non-verbal means are not available as in face-to-face conversation. The study includes a qualitative and quantitative analysis which covers the similarities and differences found across the subcorpora corresponding to each of the three groups of students involved, in terms of subtypes of Expressives and their linguistic realisations. The results suggest that Expressives play a crucial role as rapport building devices in the online interaction, smoothing and complementing transactional language. The analysis also suggests that the variables of linguistic proficiency, group size, age, multiculturality, and method of assessment may have a bearing on the form and use of Expressives in online written interaction in blended learning environments.


Expressive speech acts Online collaborative learning E-forums Tertiary level Emoticons 


  1. Adolphs, S. (2008). Corpus and context. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin, J. L. (1975 [1962]). How to do things with words. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bach, K., & Harnish, R. M. (1979). Linguistic communication and speech acts. Cambridge, MA/London: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Blake, R. J. (2011). Current trends in online language learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cole, M. (2009). Using wiki technology to support student engagement: Lessons from the trenches. Computers and Education, 52, 141–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dillenbourg, P. (1999). Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and computational approaches. Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  7. Dillenbourg, P., Baker, M., Blaye, A., & O’Malley, C. (1996). The evolution of research on collaborative learning. In P. Reiman & H. Spada (Eds.), Learning in humans and machines: Towards an interdisciplinary learning science (pp. 189–211). Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  8. Givón, T. (1982). Evidentiality and epistemic space. Studies in Language, 6(1), 23–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Givón, T. (1984). Syntax: A functional-typological introduction (Vol. I). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  10. Givón, T. (1990). Syntax: A functional-typological introduction (Vol. II). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  11. Herring, S. C., Stein, D., & Virtanen, T. (2013). Handbook of pragmatics of computer-mediated communication. Berlin: Mouton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kessler, G., Bikowski, D., & Boggs, J. (2012). Collaborative writing among second language learners in academic web-based projects. Language, Learning and Technology, 16(1), 91–109.Google Scholar
  13. Leeming, D. E., & Danino, N. (2012). Breaking barriers: A case study of culture and facebook usage. Journal of Modern Languages and International Studies, 1(1), 52–64.Google Scholar
  14. Maíz Arévalo, C. (2010). Intercultural pragmatics: A contrastive analysis of compliments in English and Spanish. In M. Luisa Blanco Gómez & J. I. Marín Arrese (Eds.), Discourse and communication: Cognitive and functional perspectives (pp. 175–208). Madrid: Dykinson and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos.Google Scholar
  15. Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The language of evaluation. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  16. Neumann, D. L., & Hood, M. (2009). The effects of using a wiki on student engagement and learning of report writing skills in a university statistics course. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(5), 382–398.Google Scholar
  17. Nöel, S., & Robert, J.-M. (2004). Empirical study on collaborative writing: What do co-authors do, use, and like? Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing, 13(1), 63–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Piaget, J. (1928). The language and thought of the child. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  19. Rühlemann, C. (2010). What can a corpus tell us about pragmatics? In A. O’Keeffe & M. McCarthy (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of corpus linguistics (pp. 288–301). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Searle, J. R. (1976). A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society, 5(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Storch, N. (2011). Collaborative writing in L2 contexts: Processes, outcomes, and future directions. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31(1), 275–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Thomas, J. (1995). Meaning in interaction. An introduction to pragmatics. London/New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  24. Verschueren, J. (1999). Understanding pragmatics. London/New York: Arnold.Google Scholar
  25. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Weigand, E. (2010). Dialogue – The mixed game. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. White, P. R. R. (2003). An introductory course in Appraisal analysis. Accessed 16 Mar 2009.
  28. Yus, F. (2011). Cyberpragmatics: Internet-mediated communication in context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Carretero
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carmen Maíz-Arévalo
    • 1
  • M. Ángeles Martínez
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Filología Inglesa I, Facultad de Filología – Edificio AUniversidad Complutense – Ciudad UniversitariaMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations