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Reading: A corpus analysis of online news comments using the Appraisal framework


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A corpus analysis of online news comments using the Appraisal framework


Luca Cavasso ,

Simon Fraser University, CA
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Maite Taboada

Simon Fraser University, CA
About Maite
Maite Taboada is Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Associate Member of the Cognitive Science Program and the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University. She is a linguist working at the intersection of discourse analysis and computational linguistics. Her research interests within linguistics include discourse relations and evaluative language. In computational linguistics, she has worked on sentiment analysis, automatic moderation of online comments, and the language of misinformation. Her lab, the Discourse Processing Lab at SFU, has built the Gender Gap Tracker, an online tool to track the number of men and women quoted in Canadian mainstream news media.
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We present detailed analyses of the distribution of Appraisal categories (Martin and White, 2005) in a corpus of online news comments. The corpus consists of just over one thousand comments posted in response to a variety of opinion pieces on the website of the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. We annotated all the comments with labels corresponding to different categories of the Appraisal framework. Analyses of the annotations show that comments are overwhelmingly negative, and that they favour two of the subtypes of Attitude (Judgment and Appreciation) over the third, Affect. The paper contributes a methodology for annotating Appraisal, and results that show the interaction of Appraisal with negation, the constructive (or not) nature of comments, and the level of toxicity found in them. The results show that highly opinionated language is expressed as an objective opinion (Judgement and Appreciation) rather than an emotional reaction (Affect). This finding, together with the interplay of evaluative language with constructiveness and toxicity in the comments, can be applied to the automatic moderation of comments.
How to Cite: Cavasso, L., & Taboada, M. (2021). A corpus analysis of online news comments using the Appraisal framework. Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies, 4, 1–38. DOI:
Published on 27 Apr 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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