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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published online by De Gruyter Mouton October 11, 2021

Engagement and constructiveness in online news comments in English and Russian

Radoslava Trnavac ORCID logo and Maite Taboada ORCID logo
From the journal Text & Talk


We investigate the relationship between Engagement and constructiveness in online news comments by analyzing the frequency and type of Engagement expressions in a corpus of English and Russian comments, following the Appraisal framework. The comments in question, 10,000 words in each language, were posted in response to opinion articles in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail and the Russian online news channel RT. In the context of online news comments, users generally characterize constructive comments as posts that tend to create a civil dialogue through remarks that are relevant to the article and do not provoke an emotional response. Through quantitative and qualitative analyses, we conclude that the language of constructive comments is more explicitly subjective in both languages. The main difference in the use of Engagement expressions in constructive and non-constructive comments lies along the lines of certainty/uncertainty and reliability/unreliability. As for cross-linguistic differences, it seems that English constructive comments place emphasis on the reliability of a commenter’s knowledge, while Russian constructive comments employ more modals of necessity, which have a prescriptive function.

Corresponding author: Maite Taboada, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada, E-mail:


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Received: 2020-09-25
Accepted: 2021-09-21
Published Online: 2021-10-11

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