Nowadays much attention in linguistics is paid to the study of construction types of non-literary texts. The article deals with the texts of Postcrossing project postcards as a full-featured and specific linguistic object, which is a new form of speech communication throughout the world. On the basis of the theory of speech genres the corpus of postcrossing postcards texts is subjected to the analysis on three basic principles of a genre, which are thematic, stylistic and compositional. Holding linguopragmatic analysis allowed us to determine the structural variability of the genre of the postcrossing postcard. The regularities of the functioning of illocutionary speech acts were determined in a small volume of messages of the studied genre of the texts. The content that the means of speech etiquette carry while salutation is an expression of the intentions of greeting on the addresser’s part towards the addressee in the course of the etiquette situation, and while wish – it is farewell. The set of etiquette formulae is characterized by uniformity of grammatical constructions, static content of vocabulary and neutrality of its connotative meaning. The natural character of the postcards creating is proved by the thematic filling of the meaningful part of the compositional structure. It is characterized by four generalized directions: personal information, place, postcard, weather, which are present in the postcard text in different proportions and in different order. The conditions of the communicative situation determined the use of informative and emotive functions, which prevail in the meaningful part.
Keywords: Genreintentionpostcardspostcrossingspeech actspeech communication
Speech communication is a motivated living process, which is carried out by the participants of communication, including distantly, for which a person has different means like letters, phone, SMS, Internet, the texts of which have become the object of various linguistic studies (Granbon-Herranen, 2018; Herbland, Goldberg, Garric, & Lesieur, 2017; Foltête & Litot, 2015; Wheetley, 2015; Barasa, 2010). In contrast of these typical types of communication, postcards carry the element of pleasant surprise of receiving them. There are a lot of people who enjoy receiving real mail that’s why in the linguistic culture of many countries there are different types of postcards. For example, greeting cards and postcards from travel/holiday, the texts of which have also become the object of linguistic research, are in the public domain (Zaitseva, 2012). At present, a new kind of written communication is spreading all over the world. Since 2005, the international project "Postcrossing" offers everyone to participate in the official exchange of postcards with representatives of any corner of the planet, where the main goal of the project is to connect the world via real mail (Postcrossing). The number of senders wishing to participate in the project is increasing every year (the dynamics is reflected on the project website, this fact suggests that the cards have taken a special place in the communicative traditions of many countries. The researchers note the ritual nature of a greeting card or a holiday card for a known recipient (Zaitseva, 2012). Postcrossing postcard texts are created in a specific communicative situation: the postcard is sent only at the request of the addresser to an unknown person (Baimuratova, 2015).
In this study, we consider postcrossing postcard texts as a new type of speech activity with already formed speech event, speech situation and speech interaction, where all three of these components of speech communication determine the speech genre originality of this type of postcards. The importance of this study lies in the fact that it is necessary to study the texts of postcards, as the popularity of the Postcrossing project extends to 248 countries. The results of the study of certain lexical, grammatical and stylistic phenomena in the project postcards have already been obtained (Lasitsa & Baimuratova, 2018; Agarkova & Baimuratova, 2017; Baimuratova & Verzhinskaya, 2016; Belova & Baimuratova, 2015; Evstafiadi & Baimuratova, 2015).
The corpus of the current research consists of 550 texts of postcards, the owners of which are students and teachers of the Orenburg State University (Orenburg, Russia).
The modern theory of speech genres is a primary model for the description and explanation of the peculiar rules of human communication, structures and mechanisms of interaction within the language community. Along with this, it acts as a theory of language dialogue, “theory of verbal activity in social intercourse” (Prucha, 1983).
Pragmalinguistic concept of Bakhtin (1986) formulated in his work "The Problem of Speech Genres", has long remained unclaimed because the works of Austin (1962) and Searle (1969), developing a pragmatic theory of speech acts, in many ways similar to the theory of speech genres, were published somewhat earlier. However, speech genres have been increasingly studied since the end of the twentieth century, and now the study of speech genres is considered one of the most productive and popular approaches to the study of speech (Antonova, Baimuratova, & Scherbina, 2016). Today, there are various models for determining the genre nature of the object, but they are based on the genre concept of Bakhtin (1986). In modern genre studies a variety of parameters describing the genre are offered. In particular, we can highlight Wierzbicka's (1997) approach to modeling speech genres, where the researcher describes each genre using a sequence of simple sentences expressing motives, intentions and other acts of the speaker. Model of the speech genre of Shmelyova (1997) is based on the understanding of the genre as a situational speech action and includes seven constitutive features. Also, the communicative-semiotic model of the natural written genres is formulated where student graffiti, marginal page notebooks, private notes, diary, business notebook, greetings are the complete and specific linguistic objects (Lebedeva, 2011). The results of our current work will be a genre study of postcrossing postcards on the main parameters of the genre description, which are recognized by most scientists. These parameters are thematic, stylistic and compositional.
Studying texts of postcrossing postcards from the standpoint of the basic principles of the genre in the linguopragmatic aspect allows to solve the following tasks:
to characterize the structural variability of the postcrossing postcard genre;
to determine the thematic content of significant parts of the composition structure;
to find out the speech intentions and grammatical structures when creating a contact-opening formula;
to provide a comprehensive description of the meaningful part with the release of the specific functions to this type of texts inherent;
to determine the intentions and expressing them grammatical structures in the contact-closing formula.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of our research is to identify the features of meaningful and writing-speech filling of the texts of postcrossing postcards according to their genre nature inherent to as a new form of speech communication.
We used the following linguistic methods and techniques in the work: the descriptive method implemented in the method of genre description, the method of structural and functional analysis, the method of semantic and contextual analysis, and the method of statistical analysis.
To systematize the model of speech genre of postcrossing postcard texts, we conducted several stages of research.
At the first stage of the study, we analyzed the composition of the postcrossing postcards texts and determined the stability of the composition, which allowed us to talk about the recognition of the genre and helped the recipients to understand the situation of communication. The composition of the postcrossing postcard text is not rigidly fixed, because the construction, or better to say the process of creating an integral postcard text is a creative process, where integrity is formed on the basis of the internal unity of all formative components. The text may lack certain elements of the compositional structure. However, in the majority as mandatory elements the following ones are included: contact-opening formula + meaningful part + contact-closing formula + signature + date.
The second stage of the study was a detailed analysis of the first three elements of the composition scheme. It was found that these very elements are responsible for speech interaction and are subjects to the following three characteristics: they have sense, integrity and are issued as a part of the speech act where language registration of the statement is the sentence.
Contact-opening etiquette formulae represent the initial speech etiquette statements used in the beginning of the communication. The text of the postcrossing postcard in most cases is preceded by the salutation that is the primary speech act, as the salutation controls the attention of communicants. In our case, the locative effect of addressing is the writing of the salutation, expressed by the proper name in the absolute absence of its replacement by the appellative: "
The illocutionary act of salutation, in our case directly related to the speech act of greeting, as there is no specification of kinship, position, etc., in postcrossing cards, is represented by the intention of the writer to establish contact, where neutral formulae are used for the most part. The vocative provides the reference to the addressee, but the inherent vocativity as illocutionary force does not imply the existence of an act of predication.
The most common construction is
Now it is worth noticing the constructions
As for the perlocutionary act, which is manifested in the effect on the addressee, it is expressed indirectly in this kind of communication, but its presence is required. In the postcard text without salutation the principles of pragmatics are violated where the main one is effective communication. It is peculiar that these examples are available, the text can be opened just with a wish or contain only it:
The meaningful part contains a completely heterogeneous material in terms of topics, which confirms the natural character of the postcard use, and hence their relevance to the genre of natural written speech. Despite the heterogeneity of the content of this compositional part of the postcard text, the linguistic analysis of the thematic content revealed certain speech intentions, to which all the variety of texts can be reduced. Thus, the most common types of illocutionary goals, with which the addresser creates his/her statement in the framework of the Postcrossing project, can be defined as representative and expression (in accordance with the classification of speech acts of Borisova (2007). Representatives are responsible for handling a variety of information shared by postcrossers with an unknown recipient. Emotional and personal expressives show feelings, emotional assessments and emotionally colored relationships that arise in the process of creating the text of the postcard. In a particular text, these two speech intentions are combined in different proportions, while defining such text functions as informative and emotive, which allows us to determine the following thematic range of postcard texts, consisting of four large groups: personal information (38%), place (28%), postcard (20%), weather (10%). The fifth group which accounts for 4% differs on thematic content from the four designated ones.
The strongly marked function of postcrossing postcard text is informative when the sender transmits new knowledge to the addressee or informs him/her about something. This speech intention often remains clearly unspoken, in rare cases it can be indicated by the word (for example, when using performative verbs
In the postcard texts informative and emotive functions are combined in different proportions, for example, a phrase that begins with
The most common way to describe the circle of hobbies are the verbs
In the lexical environment of the verbs
The informative function of the postcard text is also present in the next thematic group of the meaningful part of the composition structure, when the sender describes the geographical location in more detail.
It could be a country:
A more detailed description can contain historical information about a geographic feature:
The sender can appeal to the facts that may be known to the addressee, to share the details of the current activities of the geographical object:
The following example demonstrates the addresser's desire to explain the correct way of pronunciation of the town and the etymological roots of its name:
From an informative point of view, it is interesting to learn about another part of the world directly from its inhabitants. Therefore, postcrossers are happy to tell what their corner of the world is famous for:
Analyzing the texts of postcrossing postcards, we understand that we are talking about personal relationships between complete strangers, between whom there is a one-time unidirectional contact. Its main purpose is the transfer of the material carrier (postcard) with the establishment and possible maintenance of living human relations. Therefore, the third most popular theme in the meaningful part of the composition structure is the theme of the postcard itself, or rather its front side. There are also informative and emotive functions of the text, which either alternate or are combined in one message.
Attention to the material carrier is expressed in the hope that the postcard is liked. We have derived the formula of the most common phrase that expresses this, that is
The front side view can be represented by a combination of ‘
The addresser can share information or an interesting fact about what is shown on the front side of the postcard:
If the sender shares a postcard with the place of interest, then most of the texts have a small description:
The attraction of a particular area can be considered and events regularly held there:
For many postcrossers, the historical value of the postcard is important and interesting, on the one hand, as a material carrier (
Addressers can also share the reason for choosing a postcard sent. It can be emotions:
This may be some connection of thoughts and feelings of the addresser with the image on the front side:
In addition to the informative and emotive functions of the postcard text the hedonistic function can be determined, the purpose of which is to please oneself and one’s partner by the process of speech communication as such:
Sometimes the sender shares information about the purchase of a postcard:
The fourth thematic group of the meaningful part is "Weather". We have determined that even in a purely informative at first glance message about the weather there is a more or less pronounced assessment of the reported and the emotions of the speaker about it. The emotional state of people is transmitted via the lexemes that they use to describe the weather. So it is possible to judge about the positive emotional expression because of the lexemes
Another set of lexemes indicates a depressed, dissatisfied expression of the author:
However, in some texts, despite the connotatively negative vocabulary
Our highlighting of large thematic groups does not indicate the fact of their separated use. Often they are all present in the text in different proportions and in different order – personal information+place+postcard+weather:
Contact-closing etiquette formulae are the final ones used to close the contact, after which the signature part and the date may or may not be available.
If you look at the combination of intentions of wishes and requests in the speech act of "farewell", it can be stated that in the postcard texts at farewell there is only the intention of wishes, although the intentions of the request are not excluded, but they are contained in the main part of the text.
At the end of the postcard text, the addressers resort to illocutionary speech acts of wishes and farewell. It can be stated that in the postcard texts wishes are only positive, as they are intended to regulate interpersonal relations of communicants.
Wishes as a certain grammatical type of utterance can be quite varied; however, the analysis of practical material allowed to deduce the following classification on the grammatical basis: firstly, it is the construction ‘adjective + noun’ (
In the speech act of wishes the connotative meaning of farewell is widely used. Analysis of the situation of written communication with a stranger in the framework of the "Postcrossing" project has identified a set of etiquette formulae of wishes, which is characterized by specificity. The most frequent wish nowhere else used is
A separate item should be noted wishes on the eve of well-known holidays, among which there are three: New Year, Christmas and birthday of the addressee, which the addresser can learn from the addressee’s profile:
In view of the fact that the speaker expresses some benevolence, it is worth noting that in the material under study it manifests itself both at the lexical and grammatical levels. The most frequent are several lexemes – it is the lexeme
Usually, in the written communication of familiar people in the framework of farewell, the addresser completes contact with the addressee or establishes it, demonstrating that interrupts contact, but wants to maintain it in the future. The genre of the postcrossing postcards texts is characterized by the completion of contact with the addressee when the realization of the situation "farewell" uses the following set of formulae of farewell: 1) etiquette of expressions (
Having considered the use of special language forms in the postcrossing postcard texts, we note that various paralinguistic means, in particular, graphic and iconic, associated with the way of writing the text and with the use of various pictorial components, are essential in the design of such text.
At the first stage, we have determined the composition structure of postcrossing postcard texts, which allows us to talk about the recognition of the genre. Formative components are: contact-opening formula, meaningful part, contact-closing formula, signature part and date.
At the second stage, we have conducted a linguistic and pragmatic analysis of the first three elements of the composition scheme, as they are responsible for speech interaction and as we have established, they have three characteristics: the presence of meaning, the possession of integrity and the formulation in the speech act.
The linguistic analysis of contact-opening and contact-closing etiquette formulae allows to conclude that in the genre of natural written speech, which includes postcards of the project "Postcrossing", salutation and farewell satisfy the definition of a speech act as a purposeful speech action, committed in accordance with the principles and rules of speech behavior adopted in this society. They have illocutionary force and are able to influence the mind of the recipient, causing a certain perlocutionary effect. In this case, there is a specific list of etiquette formulae of salutation in direct connection with the greeting and wishes in direct connection with the farewell. Formulae are characterized by neutrality due to the establishment of contact in written communication between strangers, in contrast to a more diverse set of etiquette formulae when communicating with familiar with each other communicants, which is facilitated by the availability of information about the recipient.
The content of the composite structure of the postcrossing postcard text contains a heterogeneous material in terms of themes, which confirms the natural character of the creating of postcards. Despite this, all the variety of texts can be reduced to certain speech intentions. The most common types of illocutionary goals in the postcard texts are representative, responsible for operating with a variety of information, and emotional and personal expressions that express feelings arising in the process of creating the text of the postcard. In a particular text, these two speech intentions are combined in different proportions, while defining such text functions as informative and emotive, that allowed us to determine the following thematic range of postcard texts, consisting of four large groups: personal information (38%), place (28%), postcard (20%), weather (10%) and a small fifth group (4%), differing by thematic content from the four denoted.
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20 April 2020
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Discourse analysis, translation, linguistics, interpretation, cognition, cognitive psychology
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Baimuratova, U. S., & Lyulina (Antonova), A. V. (2020). Postcrossing Project: Postcards As A New Form Of Speech Communication. In A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 281-293). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.31