Recognising Voices: The ‘Voice-Holder’ Aspect of engagement in Experts’ Tweets on the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

  • Ayumi Inako
Part of the The M.A.K. Halliday Library Functional Linguistics Series book series (TMAKHLFLS)


This paper examines how expert Twitter users showed alignment and disalignment with various people who constituted their readership at the time of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis in 2011 in Japan, also known as 3/11. The scientific uncertainty involved in estimating the possible impact of the accident gave rise to a heightened sense of anxiety and mistrust of official information by the Japanese public. As such, specialist tweeters from various disciplines and professions became the core for discourse communities on Twitter characterised by shared concerns and values, among them physicists and freelance journalists. The interest herein lies in investigating the characteristics of these communities from a linguistic perspective, exploring what aspects in the language contributed to community formation around these two types of specialists. In my previous study, I compared the two groups in terms of kinds of knowledge and values they reciprocated to their readership on Twitter. In this study, I compare how these professionals negotiated their relationship with their readers, focusing on the aspect of ‘voice holders’, or the Sayer aspect of different kinds of ideas or opinions that constituted the society at the time of the crisis. In the process of this analysis, the function of resources from the honorification system, a lexicogrammatical system in Japanese also known under the label of referent honorifics, is re-defined from the perspective of engagement. An analysis of the tweets around the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis reveals the characteristics of the two communities formed around the two types of tweeters at the time of nuclear crisis in terms of their potential membership, one inclusive and the other exclusive.


3/11 nuclear crisis Community Heteroglossia Voice holder honorification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayumi Inako
    • 1
  1. 1.Kobe City University of Foreign StudiesKobeJapan

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