Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Education Theory and Practice

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 80 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Istvan Kecskes

Committee Members

Robert E Sanders


Agreement, asynchronous communication, Common ground, Computer-mediated communication, Disagreement, socio-cognitive approach, Electronic discussion groups, Bilingualism, Multilingual communication, Cross-language information retrieval

Subject Categories

Education | Linguistics | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This paper compares and contrasts the ways online discussion participants of French and English language expression realize common ground, agree and disagree on newspaper blogs on politics. For that purpose, a corpus of 365 replies among which 177 in French and 188 in English were collected from Le and, the world's two most popular newspaper websites of French and English expression. Kecskes & Zhang's (2009) socio-cognitive approach was used as theoretical framework to analyze common ground. The findings revealed that pragmatic competence, which was put to use depending on the context of situation, was more widely used than socio-cultural knowledge in the realization of common ground. Also, participants' cognitive abilities were instrumental in the processes of constructing, maintaining and understanding common ground; Le Monde online discussion participants differed from New York Times participants by using manipulative causality more often, and the inclusive first-person plural pronoun less often. To investigate agreements and disagreements, I used Baym's (1996) theoretical model applied to computer-mediated communication. The findings revealed participants' greater inclination to disagreement in online political discussions. Meanwhile, New York Times discussion participants showed a greater propensity for face saving behavior. Also, a recurrent structure for elaborated agreements and disagreements was identified: pre-expansion + dis/agreement + post-expansion. Finally, New York Times online discussion participants produced more complex agreements and disagreements than Le Monde online discussion participants.