Grammar features and discourse style in digital genres: The case of science-focused crowdfunding projects
As advances in digital media render new forms of knowledge dissemination, new genres in the Internet are attracting increasing scholarly attention. Yet, although these genres have been investigated extensively from the perspectives of rhetoric and discourse, research on their linguistic features is limited. To fill this gap, this study analyses grammar features and their functional associations in a corpus of crowdfunding project proposals. The study shows that these proposals are characterised by a structurally elaborate (not compressed) discourse style, with a high presence of both complex noun phrases containing post-modification and/or (finite and non-finite) clauses and verb phrases controlling subordinate clauses that make meanings very explicit. Salient among the findings is the hybrid discourse style of these proposals. This style shows linguistic features associated with formal academic prose (complex noun phrases, phrases with embedded relative clauses with que, non-finite infinitive and participle clauses, and prepositional phrases as nominal post-modifiers) as well as features that are especially common in conversation (verb phrases encapsulating first person pronouns, and verb phrases with epistemic/deontic modals and non-face threatening expressions of modality). It is concluded that the hybridisation of this genre, as reflected in its linguistic features, is functionally motivated by the various communicative purposes of the genre—to inform about science, educate in science and create a persuasive appeal to prompt donation.