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Double Voicing and Script Comparison in Tumblr and Twitter: Analytical Essay

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Double-voicing

This section explores double voicing in both platforms to test whether there is double-voicing present in both platforms’ samples and if there is what aspects it manifests differently.

Vásquez and Creel (2017: 64) propose that double-voicing “is used by the authors of those Tumblr Chats who seemingly present the voice of a single ‘character’ (or participant), yet present two different – and often conflicting – meanings.” What is more, they state (cf 2017:66) that double-voicing is best achieved through a blend of hyperbole and contradiction, which are features of linguistic creativity. There are two types of examples for double-voicing which this section will cover.

The first one seems to be based on a seemingly popular meme, being a meme “a portmanteau of mimesis and genes, originally coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, refer to ‘digital objects that riff on a given visual, textual or auditory form and are then appropriated, re-coded, and slotted back into the internet infrastructures they came from’” (Nooney and Portwood-Stacer 2014: 249 in Dean 2018: 5), colloquially known as “Mocking SpongeBob”. This meme’s echo can be seen in the combination of lower and capitalized letters in samples 3 and 4 (Twitter) and 13 (Tumblr). In all three examples this layout is supposed to grant a mocking tone to the statement. Arguments frequently used by anti-vaxxers, such as vaccines causing autism, or being poisonous (with the added stereotype of people practicing yoga being naturists who refute vaccines) or that there have not been enough deaths by measles for spurts to be considered a problem, or for vaccines directly being the cause of everything that might be wrong with a child (sample 3 in response to sample 2) are the ones being delivered in this code. This last example also echoes the Wake Up America movement advocating for the link between vaccines and autism. As Jaffe (2000: 504) puts it “The ‘indexical’ nature of non-standard orthography also presupposes reader knowledge of the codes represented.” If this meme were not to be recognized, the irony behind the statement might be unintentionally misunderstood or even overlooked.

The second example is that of Tumblr sample 11, where a situation at the doctor’s office is recreated. The first interaction by the anti-vaxxer is extremely ironic, since the second maxim of Quantity is being flouted to covey the ridiculous line of argumentation. The implicature here is that what they seek is exactly what vaccines provide. Then the second voice appears, that of the doctor and the anti-vaxxer’s response shows that the implicature is understood, but they still oppose vaccines. Members of such a movement are dangerous is the idea emphasized by the representative function of the hashtag.

As a summary: double-voicing, even using identic strategies can be found on both platforms. In the samples it manifested through, on the one hand, recreating a scenario and using stereotypes while ridiculing it and what it stands for, and on the other hand, through incorporating and re-interpreting the tone assigned to a specific online meme to mock specific mainstream arguments repeatedly employed by anti-vaxxers. Double-voicing was found to be used not exclusively in Tumblr, as it in Vásquez and Creel’s, and in these samples, it was employed as a tactic of ridiculing only by anti-anti-vaxxers. More on this in 4.5.

Communicative Cues and Script Comparison

This section focuses on communicative cues and in comparing the scripts being juxtaposed in order to test whether all humorous posts of the corpus show communicative clues or semantic script-switch triggers and whether both scripts being contrasted are truly different from one another.

Tumblr posts which are of humorous nature are samples 3, 4, 5, 11, and 14. Twitter humorous posts are samples 1, 3, 4, the response in 10, 13, 15, and the last response in 16. Tumblr Sample 11 and Twitter samples 1, 3, and 15 were already thoroughly explained in previous sections of this chapter and Twitter sample 4 was also frequently mentioned, therefore this chapter will focus only in the other remaining samples mentioned.

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Tumblr Sample 3 shows verbal cues through generalizations such as “anything and everything”, “anything”, “apparently, […] not a single child”. Paralinguistic cues include the asterisks used for highlighting the word perfect, which is on Bieswanger’s (2013: 464) list of micro-linguistic features of CMC which qualify as relevant for the field of Pragmatics. It is further emphasized by bold font style. Ever is capitalized to add tone, which is a feature of this type of paralanguage (cf. Carey 1980: 67). This post which seems to be a statement at first glance is actually very ironic and that is achieved through the script-switch that the cues provide (as mentioned in chapter 3). The hashtags as directives aid the implicatum.

Tumblr Sample 4 shows hashtags marking humor, as seen in 4.1. The post plays with the lack of inference that this reasoning allows. It is supposed to parallel the way in which anti-vaxxers’ logic works. There are only contextual cues here, such as statistic is a field of mathematics and it should be logical and provable, but it ends up lacking any sense.

Tumblr Sample 5 “unpopular opinion” is already a preemptive verbal marker. Representatives used by the poster are associated with ideas of tolerance, support, and respect. They even go as far as to use directives such as forbidding people from insulting them and asking them to respect the ideas presented in the representatives. The group of people being referred to is specific and overgeneralized, in the dictum they are the ones that deserve respect, etc, but the implicatum is suggesting a strong antagonism, which shines through verbal cues such as “cute little unvaccinated children” and “great minds” which are almost paradoxical overstatements when comparing both frames of what is being said and what it is actually meant. “sn”, abbreviation for “side note” is on big trigger for decoding the true meaning behind the dictum. This leads to a deeper level of humor, which is what makes this sample stand out creatively, many of the Trump-supporters’ ideas are echoed, such as patriotism (commending the first amendment), respect, lack of statutory health insurance, deporting citizens (instead of providing a sanctuary). Even the syntactical structure in “tolerance, people” reminds the reader of this. The hashtags here serve the purpose of voicing an even deeper critique behind the anti-vaccination discourse, embedding it into a political narrative. This sample shows a complexly intertwined crafting of contrasting frames that define a clear antagonistic definition of participants in the narrative.

Twitter Sample 10 includes a directive and an expressive. Brain-washing is generally a negative concept. Complimenting this initiative with an emoji contradicts the message of the post by Picard. Teaching children about vaccination is supposed to be encouraged, but naming it brainwashing makes the comment either an ironic one of an anti-anti-vaxxer teasing or a concealed critique by an anti-vaxxer. Upon researching the commenter’s profile, it was established that it was the latter, but from linguistic analysis alone it could have been any of those two possibilities.

Twitter Sample 13 uses a simile to create a humorous analogy, comparing non-aerospace engineers being incapable to assess the safety levels of a plane by mere sight to antivaxxers deeming certain vaccines unsafe by looking at the ingredients. This is another repetitive argument in the anti-vaxxers front but portraying the critique through humor by using a comparison and adding a multimedia element such as an image, makes this sample worth mentioning. Tumblr Sample 14 follows a similar idea of echoing arguments and exaggerating them to the point they become ridiculous, such as parents researching safety of vaccines on their own, being able to prevent minor symptoms, and even by inference echoing arguments such as the “freedom” to choose what they want to receive and not let the government make decisions for them. Using food as an argument to replace vaccines makes the argumentation line one that is accessible and funny for readers. The food scenario evokes the stereotypical anti-vaxx argumentation strategy, nevertheless, it is never mentioned explicitly. It is Tumblr’s user who adds it as a contextual cue. Otherwise, it has to be inferred.

Twitter Sample 16 shows a sarcastic comment by the last commenter. At first sight, the comment implies an attempt to appease the previous commenter in telling them not to be an “alarmist”, but the measures mentioned are multiple, flouting the second maxim of Quantity and also extremely specific. That, together with the verbal cue “Oh, wait” amounts to the comment gaining a tone even stronger than irony. “[S]arcasm is delivered with a cutting or withering tone that is rarely ambiguous.” (Reyes, Rosso and Veale 2013: 242)

As a conclusion, all samples which were meant to amuse (and critique) show at least one type of cue or trigger that reveal the implicatum behind the dictum. Some strategies and frames are more elaborate than others, especially some Tumblr text posts, but both platforms show similar uses of humor. Both parties employ humor in similar ways, although there are clear tendencies that tend to suggest humor is used by anti-anti-vaxxers to ridicule anti-vaxxers. This is what section 4.5. explores.

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Double Voicing and Script Comparison in Tumblr and Twitter: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/double-voicing-and-script-comparison-in-tumblr-and-twitter-analytical-essay/
“Double Voicing and Script Comparison in Tumblr and Twitter: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/double-voicing-and-script-comparison-in-tumblr-and-twitter-analytical-essay/
Double Voicing and Script Comparison in Tumblr and Twitter: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/double-voicing-and-script-comparison-in-tumblr-and-twitter-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Double Voicing and Script Comparison in Tumblr and Twitter: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/double-voicing-and-script-comparison-in-tumblr-and-twitter-analytical-essay/
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