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‘So is your mom as cute as you?’: Examining patterns of language use in online sexual grooming of children


Nuria Lorenzo-Dus ,

Swansea University, GB
About Nuria
Nuria Lorenzo-Dus is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Swansea University. She has published extensively in media discourse analysis and sociolinguistics and has received research funding from UK Research and Innovation ( and The Leverhulme Trust ( She has held visiting scholarships in Europe, North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.
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Anina Kinzel

Swansea University, GB
About Anina
Anina Kinzel graduated from Swansea University with a BA First Class Honours in Language and Communication in 2016. She was recently awarded an MA (with Distinction) in Language and Linguistics from Lancaster University. In October 2017, Anina started a PhD in Applied Linguistics at Swansea University, examining the language of online groomers.
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Linguistic research into online grooming is scarce despite both the communicative essence of this form of online child sexual abuse and a substantial body of literature into it across other Social Sciences. Most of this literature has examined small data sets via qualitative methods, primarily thematic analysis; the exception being a couple of studies that have used automated software (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count - LIWC) that operates at a single-word level. This study evaluates the contribution that a Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS) approach can make to this body of literature, with a focus on online groomers’ language. The corpus consists of >600 grooming chat logs taken from the Perverted Justice Foundation archive, from which the groomers’ language was extracted (c. 3.3 million words). Lexical dispersion (DPNorm), collocation and concordance analyses were conducted. The corpus was also run through LIWC. Our analysis shows that LIWC may not be the most efficient software to analyse online grooming language due to a lack of general language comparison scores, the non-transparency of some of its analytic variables and a focus on de-contextualised words. Comparatively, CADS methods can shed light upon online groomers’ strategic use of language. They can also reveal the complex and nuanced ways in which discourse features such as (im)explicitness and interpersonal (in)directness operate alongside these strategies.
How to Cite: Lorenzo-Dus, N., & Kinzel, A. (2019). ‘So is your mom as cute as you?’: Examining patterns of language use in online sexual grooming of children. Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies, 2, 15–39. DOI:
Published on 13 Jul 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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