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This paper investigates features of a spoken/informal register as found in happily-ever-after women’s novel blurbs. Two motivational forces drove the paper: Book blurbs are a crucial marketing and informational tool for the publishing industry, and there is a lack of studies focusing on what linguistic features they actually entail. Accordingly, we investigated (1) the most salient linguistic features of classic book blurbs vs. mass-marketed books blurbs, and (2) what differences, if any, they exhibit in terms of linguistic features. The study had two main phases: First, we collected 80 blurbs from happily-ever-after women’s English-language novels: 40 from classic novels and 40 from mass-marketed novels. Second, we analyzed each blurb for the presence of 14 linguistic features that are known to be indicators of spoken/informal language, as per the approaches of many corpus linguists, especially Douglas Biber. Results indicated that the top three spoken/informal features were intensifiers (29.37%), present tense forms (23.51%) and coordinating conjunctions (16.69%). With the exception of past tenses forms and complex conjunctions, mass-marketed blurbs exhibited more instances of spoken/informal language choices than the classic blurbs. Based on our findings, we argue that more awareness of the linguistic nature of these promotional texts can be enhanced in discourse analysts, as well as ESL/EFL and literature instructors, and publishers.
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