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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
ПИ № ФС 77 - 51217

DOI: https://doi.org/10.23670/IRJ.2017.59.010

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Maevskaya M.I., "ANONYMOUS “CHANNELS” OF THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER: FEATURES OF SPEECH BEHAVIOR". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 05 (59) Part 1, (2017): 148. Fri. 21. Apr. 2017.
Maevskaya, M.I. (2017). ANONIMNYE «KANALY» MESSENDGHERA TELEGRAM: OSOBENNOSTI RECHEVOGO POVEDENIYA [ANONYMOUS “CHANNELS” OF THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER: FEATURES OF SPEECH BEHAVIOR]. Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal, № 05 (59) Part 1, 148-151. http://dx.doi.org/10.23670/IRJ.2017.59.010
Maevskaya M. I. ANONYMOUS “CHANNELS” OF THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER: FEATURES OF SPEECH BEHAVIOR / M. I. Maevskaya // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2017. — № 05 (59) Part 1. — С. 148—151. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2017.59.010

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ANONYMOUS “CHANNELS” OF THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER: FEATURES OF SPEECH BEHAVIOR

Маевская М.И.

ORCID.ORG/0000-0003-2412-6743, Кандидат филологических наук, Доцент, Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет

 АНОНИМНЫЕ «КАНАЛЫ» МЕССЕНДЖЕРА TELEGRAM: ОСОБЕННОСТИ РЕЧЕВОГО ПОВЕДЕНИЯ

Аннотация

В статье рассматривается речевая среда, которую в мессенджере Telegram создают авторские каналы информации, так называемые Telegram Channels, на русском языке. В частности, анализируются речевые практики анонимного инсайдерского канала Telegram Незыгарь, определяются их характерные особенности. Анонимные авторы канала Незыгарь позиционируют себя как люди, которые владеют инсайдерской информацией, независимы от конкретной политической партии и государственного органа и имеют доступ к авторитетным высокоуровневым частным источникам информации. Такой коммуникативный статус субъекта речи проявляется прежде всего в доминирующей модальности речи.

Ключевые слова: мессенджер, Telegram, инсайдерская информация, анонимный канал Незыгарь, речевое поведение, речевые коммуникационные технологии.

Maevskaya M.I.

ORCID.ORG/0000-0003-2412-6743, PhD in Philology, Associated professor, St. Petersburg State University

ANONYMOUS “CHANNELS” OF THE TELEGRAM MESSENGER: FEATURES OF SPEECH BEHAVIOR

                                                                                                            Abstract

The article is devoted to the speech environment that is created by the messenger Telegram in the form of authorial information of Russian- language channels, the so-called Telegram Channels. We analyze, for instance, the speech practices of an anonymous insider “Nezigar” Telegram Channel and determine the characteristic features of these practices. The anonymous authors’ position themselves as people who own insider information, independent from a particular political party and government body and have access to authoritative high-rank private sources of information. Such communicative status of the subject of speech is manifested primarily in the dominant modality of speech.

Keywords: messenger, Telegram, insider information, anonymous Telegram channel, Nezigar, speech-communication technology, verbal behavior.

Introduction

In the communicative environment of the Internet, new communities of different types are emerging. Recently, mobile platforms have become one of the most significant parts of the Internet. Meanwhile, the researchers are still focused on traditional and well-known platforms such as social networks and blogs. However, the real public voice of modern society is increasingly shifting to the sphere of those communities mentioned above which function on mobile platforms.

There is an urgent need for constant monitoring of the speech environment. It helps to identify the most problematic situations of public life and attitude to these problems of different social groups. In addition, in the future, the authorities, political parties and social movements may benefit from this understanding by assessing the situation in a right way and making appropriate decisions.

Presently, the object of this analysis is the speech of individual channels on the Telegram messenger, which is mainly focused on the social and political life in Russia.

The subject of this research is the uniqueness of the channel authors’ verbal behavior in their interrelationship with the actual socio-political situation in the country.

The aim of this article is to determine the specific features of verbal behavior of anonymous authors of insider Telegram channels.

Materials and methods

The empirical material of this study is the messages of the anonymous Telegram channel Nezigar for 2017, as well as the materials of other Telegram channels. These texts were studied using methods of analysis of the lexical structure of the text and stylistic approach of the author. In addition, we used comparative method and contextual analysis.

TELEGRAM is a free messenger, the project of Pavel Durov; its clients exist for iOS, Android, Windows phone and desktop systems. Thanks to “Secret chat“ function, which allows users to exchange encrypted messages, it was among the most downloaded applications in 2014 in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Italy, Germany, the Middle East, India and South Korea. In February 2017 a Russian newspaper the Vedomosti published growth data for this application in Russia, according to which Telegram entered the top five applications in the category “Social Networking“ for iOS, and beat Facebook, Odnoklassniki (Russian social network), Periscope and Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp, VK (Russian social network), Viber and Skype took four leading positions. Russian audience of TELEGRAM active users (aged 12 to 64, living in the cities with population over 700,000 people) almost reached 6,000,000 people in January 2017 [3]

In the fall of 2015 so-called messenger “channels“ started to appear, which are a kind of a combination of news feed and blog on a particular subject, that allow to send messages to subscribed users. According to the Telegram network search service [7], the full catalog of channels includes more than 143,000 titles. The leaders are Persian-language channels (67,154), due to the popularity of the messenger in Iran. At the same time the number of Russian-language channels is 5,031, which is actually less than the number of English-language ones (5,235). The certain types of channels that can be classified according to common characteristics have been formed already:

  1. An increasing number of Russian media (traditional and new ones) have their own Telegram channels, which redirect to their websites for more detailed information (“Slon”, “Meduza”, etc.)
  2. Digest channels, collecting the most interesting news and publications of traditional and new media for their subscribers (The most popular is the “Nopaywall” channel. Actually, this resource has been illegally publishing news from other media paid content).
  3. Thematic channels dedicated to IT technologies (“Hightech.fm Daily”), literature, movies and TV shows, music, so-called life hacks – advices for almost any occasion, training and education channels (“Editor’s Tools”).
  4. Anonymous channels (political insiders such as the Nezigar, Methodichka, Politota, Politburo)

The number of Telegram channel’s subscribers varies from several hundred people to tens of thousands – for example, the audience of “Stalingulag” channel is more than 58 thousand readers, more than 53 thousand are subscribed to Music channel. As for the views – by its number the most popular Telegram channels are approaching federal media.

The Telegram channel is one-way flow of information from the author to the subscribers, it resembles once popular Live Journal (LJ), a kind of retrospective evolution sending us back to those times when media did without direct interaction with the audience. The channels have minimalistic design, no censorship and no rating, no commentaries, which often create a “toxic“ environment for the author. They cannot be found on websites and are quite isolated from the general information noise. The author of the channel receives freedom of self-expression, the subscribers get convenient delivery of content directly to their smart phones. The emergence of anonymous political channels in this new communication environment, which is very promising for the forming of political agenda, is both a phenomenon and a consistency.

One of the reasons for the growing popularity of anonymous political channels is that they solve the old problem in this new environment, providing the audience with information, which cannot be found in media.

One of such popular political insider channels is called the “Nezigar”. The main topic of the “Nezigar” channel’s publications is the “behind-the-scenes“ side of Russian politics. In this case, the anonymity of the author (or actually a group of authors) does not reduce, but increases the credibility of the information published.

“Of course, it is significant that in 2017 a political anonym awakes more interest than people with names and surnames, “says a well-known journalist Oleg Kashin. – But it is also true that we usually know these people by names, we know what they want, and the anonym with his uncertainty gives a chance that he is smarter and much more interesting than usual and familiar authors“[4].

Results & Discussion

Telegram dictates the rules of speech behavior to participants in these communities. A number of them depend on purely technological features of this messenger.

This communication is focused on the primary use of verbal sign system. Nonverbal inclusions are few and secondary. If necessary, the references to them are given.

This communication is always a real-time communication. The authors’ posts are sent to their subscribers’ mobile devices at regular time intervals, right after their appearance. As mobile devices, especially smart phones, are for mainly, or only personal use. They are integrated in the actual time context; the subscriber has a feeling of some interlocutors’ constant presence.

It happens despite the fact that Telegram uses a one-way flow of information. The authors of the channel who form the content are the only ones to show the speech activity. The subscribers of the channel are unable to interact due to the technological features of the messenger (the developers do not provide the possibility of giving feedback). This is what differentiates Telegram messenger from social networks. The subscribers cannot express their attitude in the form of commentaries and guesstimates.

One-way flow of information does not limit the verbal intentions and possibilities of the channel’s authors. The speech patterns of the authors are determined primarily by the nature of the content, which is not limited in any way. The features of the speech patterns are also dependent on the nature of the relationship between the authors and their subscribers. In addition, their personal speech experience is relevant. Moreover, a number of extra-linguistic factors, determined by the specifics of the real-life situation are important.

However, even a cursory analysis of the speech material of Telegram channels indicates that each channel is characterized by its constant manner of speech, which finds expression and is clearly visible in each speech fragment.

Here is an example of the speech analysis of the “Nezigar” channel, which has recently become popular among users of Telegram (it has more than 30 thousand subscribers, which is comparable to the circulation of a traditional printed publication).

The anonymous authors of the channel Nezigar position themselves as people who own insider information, are independent from a particular political party and government body and have access to authoritative high-rank private sources of information.

Such communicative status of the subject of speech is manifested primarily in the dominant modality of speech. The Nezigar channel’s materials are characterized by ascertaining modality. The modality of ascertaining the fact, when information about the event is presented in the form of absolute pure knowledge, not related to the value system or preferences of the subject of speech.

Simple, low-spread affirmative and narrative sentences are most suitable for presenting news in the form of reliable bare facts. They lack any means of expressing the author’s self: such as introductory words, modal particles, complex sentences with subordinate clauses, etc.

E.g. Patriarch Kirill is considering the appointment of Protopriest Leonid Kalinin as a rector of Isaac (informal for St. Isaac cathedral-M.M); Kalinin’s wife is a restoration artist Anna Kalinina; Leonid Kalinin is an artifact-keeper (high-rank position in Russian Orthodox church) of Moscow eparchy (the Nezigar channel on Telegram, 24.02. 2017)

The key content components expressed with such statements are these very types of sentences, which dictate the intonation of an objective, confident, reliable statement.

This type of intonation is systemically important for an “insider” channel but it cannot be the only one. The authors inevitably have to solve two kinds of communicative problems: they need distinctly pull away from all other sources, which are mostly unreliable according to the rules of the insider game.In order to achieve that the authors use irony as a type of speech behavior.

E.g. “And suddenly out of blue the realization that Varsonofy was professionally weak and he had no authority in St. Petersburg popped up in everyone’s minds. Once in a state of conflict, Metropolitan Varsonofy did not think up anything better than to forcefully push the decision on Isaac, and he framed the authorities, and attracted weirdos”. (the Nezigar channel on Telegram, 24.02. 2017)

Ironically, the authors are thereby removed from the revealed situation. The irony assumes the presence of a negative evaluation component. In this case, it is not expressed openly, but disappears under words and constructions with an opposite meaning.

E.g. and suddenly out of blue this realization popped up in everyone’s minds.

In fact, in one way or another, everyone was instructed to stick to a certain position.

The insider is also interesting because he gives an idea of unofficial information flow that is formed around one event or another. The author talks about the content of the rumors, talks, conversations, opinions, judgments, assessments, circling among the initiates relevant to this event. Such content fragments, which rely on an informal oral information flow, are labeled with certain constructions.

E.g. Many people noted that; there were rumors that; cry from the Kremlin; it became clear that; they say that; [Mister X.] is well known for ; as if /as though and etc.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the methods of naming people, which in this case are also determined by the communicative image of the authors as insiders. The authors cannot reveal the name of the official post of a certain person, since the insiders by definition are independent in their political status. On the other hand, they cannot use stylistically colored nominations, containing an evaluation component. Therefore, the authors focus mainly on neutral secondary nominations.

E.g. Patriarch Cyril (the official nomination is Patriarch of Moscow and All Russ’). Kalinin’s wife (in the official nomination at least initials must be used), Varsonofy (Metropolitan Varsonofy).

All speech features of the channel mentioned above are determined by the communicative position of the authors as insiders. However, the authors must cope with another important task. They must constantly keep their audience’s attention and form the text in such a way that it is as easy as possible to perceive.

As for addressing the mass audience, the authors are required to have speech qualification of a high level. Here the authors use their experience gathered in the environment of traditional media. A journalist, addressing mass audience, should limit the use of terminology and passive voice as these makes speech extremely formal. The length of the phrase should not exceed 5-7 words, not widely known abbreviations should be avoided as well as foreign transcriptions. The speech manner of  the Nezigar meets all these requirements.

E.g. the Attorney General Chaika today scorched the Investigative Committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The quality of the investigation is low, there are many legal mistakes, the level of the evidence base is unsatisfactory, there is a permanent extension of time to complete cases, and the statistics raise concerns. Moreover, he promised to strengthen the prosecutor’s supervision (the Nezigar channel, March 14, 2017, 18:42).

Keeping constant contact with the reader also requires professional skills. The communicative status of the insiders at the same time imposes serious restrictions on the use of expressive means in speech. The high communicative status of the insiders is primarily ensured by their high information value. Therefore, they should restrain from using complicated figures of speech, which can make the phrases too intricate and sophisticated. Simplicity and conciseness do a lot for the insider. Let us check those expressive means, which characterize the “Nezigar’s” speech style. The characteristics of spoken word are noticeable in the syntactic structure, which in the text is generated by short and incomplete syntactic constructions.

E.g. On Monday his deputy and former chief of the IK-23, Radik Batraev, was arrested. And earlier – the head of the IK-11, Khusen Taov, was arrested. It was reported that new criminal cases can be opened.(12 of March 2017,00.53)

The author uses slang terms, jargon, colloquial expressions (The archbishop got set up, Varsonofy got to take the fall). Occasionally we can find the inclusions of invective (here we have to note that other insider channels, for example, Metodichka channel, use it much more often). To show their belonging to the ‘inner circle” the authors use words and phrases of informal business communication (the man number 2, according to the church scenario, the asset of Larva).

Conclusion

Analysis shows that this new communication environment, which originated on mobile platforms, has its own characteristics and specifics, determined not by the content only, but also by the way it is delivered. The subscriber, receiving information on the smart phone, stays in touch with the author of the channel, which gives him the feeling of constant presence of not just a conversationalist, but a close person whom he trusts, even considering the author’s anonymity and impossibility of leaving a comment. Now these Telegram channels are a trend that mainly affects population of big cities and the establishment. However, in the nearest future, taking into account the spread of the messenger, we can talk about their impact on social life and shaping of public opinion. This impact cannot be controlled and if necessary can be only corrected by an autonomous speech practice. It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the Telegram channels significantly increase the information capacity of average users, but at the same time, these users face some new challenges. It becomes not easy at all to identify an anonymous subject of speech due to the huge manipulative possibilities of this speech-communication technology.

       

Список литературы / References

  1. Арутюнова  Н. Д. Язык и мир человека / Н. Д. Арутюнова. ­– М. : Языки русской культуры, 1999. – 896 с.
  2. Коньков В. И. Бульварный тип речевого поведения в СМИ /В. И.Коньков // Мир русского слова. – 2010. – №2. – С. 14-20.
  3. Серьгина Е. База активных пользователей Telegram в России за год выросла в 3 раза и достигла 6 млн. [Электронный ресурс] / Е. Серьгина // Ведомости. – №4258. ­– URL: https://www.vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/02/08/676588-telegram-rossii (дата обращения: 13.04.2017).
  4. Telegram-каналы объявили войну традиционным СМИ   [Электронный ресурс] URL: http://vesti48.ru/news/6248.html /03.02.2017 (дата обращения 07.03.2017).
  5. Fidalgo A. Pushed News: When the News comes to the Cell phone / A. Fidalgo // Brazilian Journalism Research. – 2009. – № 5(2). – P. 113-124.
  6. Westlund O. New(s) functions for the mobile: a cross-cultural study / O. Westlund // New media & society. – 2010. – №12(1). – P. 91-108. doi: 10.1177/1461444809355116
  7. Tsear.ch [Electronic resource] URL: http://tsear.ch/list/all (дата обращения 10.03.2017).

Список литературы на английском языке / References in English

  1. Arutyunova  N. D. Yazyk i mir cheloveka. [Language and the world of man]  / N. D. Аrutyunova. – M. : Yazyki russkoj kul’tury, 1999. – 896 p. [in Russian]
  2. Kon’kov V. I. Bul’varnyj tip rechevogo povedeniya v SMI [Boulevard type of speech behavior in media] / V. I. Kon’kov // Mir russkogo slova. [Peace of Russian word] – 2010. – № 2. – P. 14-20. [in Russian]
  3. Ser’gina E. Baza aktivnyh pol’zovateley Telegram v Rossii za god vyrosla v 3 raza i dostigla 6 mln. [Telegrams base of active users in Russia for the past year increased 3 times and reached 6 million] [Electronic resource] / Ser’gina E. // Vedomosti – № 4258. – URL: https://www.vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/02/08/676588-telegram-rossii (accessed: 13.04.2017). [in Russian]
  4. Telegram-kanaly ob’yjavili voynu tradicionnym SMI. [Telegram-channels declared war on traditional media] [Electronic resource] URL: http://vesti48.ru/news/6248.html /03.02.2017 (accessed: 07.03.2017). [in Russian]
  5. Fidalgo A. Pushed News : When the News comes to the Cell phone / A. Fidalgo // Brazilian Journalism Research. – 2009. – № 5(2). – P. 113-124.
  6. Westlund O. New(s) functions for the mobile: a cross-cultural study / O. Westlund // New media & society. – 2010. – №12(1). – P. 91-108. doi: 10.1177/1461444809355116
  7. Tsear.ch [Electronic resource] URL: http://tsear.ch/list/all (accessed: 10.03.2017)

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