Judging a Book by its Back Cover: Spoken/Informal Register as Found in Happily-Ever-After Women’s Novel Blurbs

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Apisak Pupipat
Titirut Rungkaew
Lampoon Meeparp


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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How to Cite
Pupipat, A., Rungkaew, T. . ., & Meeparp, L. (2022). Judging a Book by its Back Cover: Spoken/Informal Register as Found in Happily-Ever-After Women’s Novel Blurbs. Journal of Studies in the English Language, 17(2), 1–31. https://doi.org/10.14456/jsel.2022.4
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Apisak Pupipat, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, Thailand

Ajaan Apisak has been teaching English (and sometimes western music) and supervising MA and PhD theses for a long time at Thammasat University. In his spare time, he enjoys reading jokes in English and listening to classical piano music. 

Titirut Rungkaew, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, Thailand

Ajaan Titirut teaches English as well as Creativity and Communication at Thammasat University, Lampang Campus. Besides being a mother of two small children, she is a full-time PhD student. 

Lampoon Meeparp, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University

Ajaan Lampoon enjoys teaching English and Phonetics at Ubon Ratchathani University, and learning a few modern European languages via their etymology, especially Latin. 


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