The emergence of the identity of a fictional expert advice-giver in an American Internet advice column

Locher, Miriam A. and Hoffmann, Sebastian. (2006) The emergence of the identity of a fictional expert advice-giver in an American Internet advice column. Text & Talk, 26 (1). pp. 69-106.

PDF - Published Version

Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5250229

Downloads: Statistics Overview


This paper is a contribution to research on the expression of expert advicegiving (e.g., Heritage and Sefi 1992; Silverman et al. 1992). We present a linguistic analysis of the ways in which the identity of the fictional expert advisor Lucy emerges in an Internet advice column run by professional health educators as part of a university health service. In discourseanalytical close readings of 280 question–answer records, we identify and discuss seven recurring strategies (the advisor’s name, self-reference and use of address terms; expert information-giving; giving options and making readers think; the choice of vocabulary; o¤ering opinions; the use of empathy; the display of humor), which together contribute to Lucy’s voice as an expert advice-giver if the readers repeatedly access the question–answer exchanges. This emerging identity is in line with the site’s mission to provide information designed to facilitate independent and responsible decision processes and corresponds to an ideal of nondirectiveness, as also identified in the literature on other advisory settings (He 1994; Sarangi and Clarke 2002; Vehviläinen 2003). The constructed identity of Lucy thus makes ‘Lucy Answers’ an attractive site to (re)turn to for advice and complements the other services provided by the health educators.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > English Linguistics (Locher)
UniBasel Contributors:Locher, Miriam A.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:De Gruyter Mouton
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 10:39
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 13:59

Repository Staff Only: item control page