Drawing on the newest findings of politeness research, this paper proposes an interactionally grounded approach to computer-mediated discourse (CMD). Through the analysis of naturally occurring text-based synchronous interactions of a virtual team the paper illustrates that the interactional politeness approach can account for linguistic phenomena not yet fully explored in computer-mediated discourse analysis. Strategies used for compensating for the lack of audio-visual information in computer-mediated communication, strategies to compensate for the technological constraints of the medium, and strategies to aid interaction management are examined from an interactional politeness viewpoint and compared to the previous findings of CMD analysis. The conclusion of this preliminary research suggests that the endeavour to communicate along the lines of politeness norms in a work-based virtual environment contradicts some of the previous findings of CMD research (unconventional orthography, capitalization, economizing), and that other areas (such as emoticons, backchannel signals and turn-taking strategies) need to be revisited and re-examined from an interactional perspective to fully understand how language functions in this merely text-based environment.
- computer-mediated discourse analysis