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Discursive odds of a fraudulent scheme in cyberspace correspondence: A CDA approach
|نشریه پژوهش های زبان شناسی
|دوره 15، شماره 2، مهر 1402، صفحه 53-64 اصل مقاله (624.91 K)
|نوع مقاله: مقاله پژوهشی
|شناسه دیجیتال (DOI): 10.22108/jrl.2023.138133.1764
|Department of Foreign Languages, Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan, Iran
|Looking through the lens of forensic pragmatics, this study aims to critically analyze a typical textual sample of cyber-fraud correspondence as addressed to a candidate email-user. As such, the virtual correspondence which is written by a seemingly legitimate sender seems to be authorized in its claims to the extent that even the Gmail spam-identifying system has not report it as devious. Due to the questionable subject of such virtual correspondence(s) (VC) or cyberspace correspondence(s) (CC) being issued, that is the claim of offering a huge winning bid to the addressee and the significance of identifying the authenticity of such abrupt proposals, it can be hypothesized that such a text consists of fraudulent claims and therefore is subject to forensic cyber-crime examination. As such, the present study plans to provide a discursive analysis of an authentic sample based on a CDA procedure itself based on Fairclough’s (1989) formula presented in his influential book titled ‘Language and Power’. There are two main questions this study has aimed to answer: 1) How the text at hand lends itself to CDA analysis in terms of the main tenets of discursive manipulation proposed in Fairclough’s CDA formula? and 2) What manipulative patterns might be detected in a discursive piece of email correspondence allegedly presumed to be fraudulent. The main findings of this study are: 1) The lexical, sentential, and textual levels in the Fairclough’s CDA formula are applicable to the email-correspondence text at hand, though modified in accordance with the text’s discoursal specifications, 2) The outcome of the CDA analysis of the cyberspace correspondence sample under study provided definitive clues to support the existence of manipulative intention(s) hidden in the text at hand, 3) The results might be applied to similar pieces of discourse at different levels of lexical, sentential, and textual composition.
|Cyber Text؛ Virtual Correspondence؛ Cyber Security؛ Cyber Forgery؛ CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis)
We live in a world where the miscellanity of linguacultures has entailed as necessary a dual concern for cross-cultural give-and-take. The miscellanity of linguacultures requires a diversity of discourse types which itself entails a diversity of discoursal functions. This being the case, such linguafunctional diversity lends itself to the exercise of power relations between the parties involved. Viewed as the territory of power struggle, the field of discourse in its growing diversity calls for a sound discursive judgment as a necessary requirement for securing mutual concessions. Among such discoursal diversification, the ‘cyberspace discourse’ has emerged rapidly to be a dominant discoursal tool; however, the security concerns over the discursive confrontations are emerging, too. The security concerns as such turn to be graver in the context of cyberspace since the cyberspace discourse due to its essential specificities is more susceptible to the anonymous manipulation of power. The problem of power practice as such is that it can be constructive or destructive, protective or abusive, and the problem gets more complicated where there is no direct conduit for sender-receiver presence and the discursive confrontation is mediated within the cyberworld of virtual identity. Here is where and when the concern(s) for ‘user safety’ in the cyberworld come to the play and disturb the seemingly serene courses of discursive action in the field. As such, there is always room as well as intention for perversion in the guise of technological provision. It is in referring to such dual role of cyberspace that Krause asserts “technology is a double-edged sword, consistently presenting us with benefits and disadvantages” (Krause, 2011, p. 1062). It is in line with the same idea that Crystal (2011, p. 122-134) expressly points to the use of a somehow “coded” language where individuals appear to plot an illegal act of some sort. Thus, he speaks of the necessity of differentiating between the conversations that are “innocent” and conversations which happen to build up a discursive pattern of suspicious act; the latter being critically notorious for their use of “suggestive [or manipulative] words and sentences” and to which online security is susceptible. Looking through this vintage point, this paper aims to critically analyze the text of an email correspondence in an attempt to identify the odds of an allegedly existing fraudulent scheme. This objective lends itself to be studied under the lens of CDA since such a discursive practice, i.e. cyber-discoursal texting, might have been planned to persuade the targeted receiver to exhibit manipulative responses. Here's where the question of ‘user safety in the cyberspace’ underlines the necessity for carrying out rigorous research to address the issue of cyber-forgery, what calls for the careful choice of a detecting tool to explore the field at hand, i.e. email discourse in the cyber-space. In so doing, the Fairclough’s approach to CDA (Fairclough, 1989) has been employed to analyze the text of some email correspondence as an authentic sample of cyberspace discourse.
2.1 Fairclough’s CDA formula defined
Speaking of critical language study (CLS), Fairclough (1989) aims to critically analyze discourse as a unit of ‘social practice’, or social interaction for that matter, a critical method for studying language which focuses upon the linguistic elements and sets out to show up their generally hidden determinants in the system of social relationships as well-as hidden effects they may have upon that system. Fairclough (1995) sees discourse as the territory of exerting social effects where CDA can be a research tool “to systematically explore often opaque relationships of causality and determination between (a) discursive practices, events and texts, and (b) wider social and cultural structures, relations and processes” (p. 132). Viewed more specifically as critical discourse analysis or CDA, the main concern of critical study of language or more specifically ‘discourse’ is to give a critico-analytic reading to a piece of discourse so as to reveal the (conscious) working mechanisms behind the exercise of power through employing the discursive devices in a piece of text. This way, the critical study of discourse presented by Fairclough (1989) as CDA formula can be used as a practical approach or an instance of ‘thinking tools’, to use Bourdieu's conception (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992, p.160), to detect such conscious thinking mechanisms.
2.2 Fairclough’s CDA formula: conceptual framework
Here some clarification on certain key terms in the so-called Fairclough’s CDA formula is due. Basically, a key concept in Fairclough’s CDA formula is the idea of ‘ideology’, which is a concept with a variability of senses. However, the main sense of the idea of ‘ideology’ concerns the fact that “all ideology is in one way or another to do with positioning subjects” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 105) in their ‘ideological struggle’, which is itself a related key concept in this regard. One must add that the term ‘ideology’ in its more straightforward sense refers to the “instrumental ideology of language” where “language” is used “as a tool for getting things done” (p. 115). This is this latter sense of the term ‘ideology’ which particularly applies to the present study. This being said, the dichotomy of ‘rewording’ and ‘overwording’ are closely related in a CDA analysis discussion as such. As a lexical value in the present formula, ‘rewording’ 'refers to the case where' “an existing, dominant, and naturalized, wording is being systematically replaced by another one in conscious opposition to it” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 114). It is to be noted that ‘overwording’ means “an unusually high degree of wording, often involving many words which are near synonyms. Overwording shows preoccupation with some aspect of reality - which may indicate that it is a focus of ideological struggle” (p. 115). In ‘rewording’ and specially in ‘overwording’ the core concepts are the same and the two lexical values as such are worked in a piece of discourse through the conceptualizations of the same idea, yet in different forms. However, ‘rewording’ as a lexical value turns mostly around the use of collocative items, though they may contain oppositional concepts at their core. As such, as it is the lexical value of ‘overwording’ which has been mostly applicable to the text at hand and its discursive content, the other alternative, that is rewording, has only been pointed to at the definitional level and no mention of the CDA analysis with ‘rewording’ at its center is provided here. 'Then comes' the ‘metaphorical representation’, is a lexical move where ‘any aspect of experience can be represented in terms of any number of metaphors, and it is the relationship between alternative metaphors that is of particular interest here, for different metaphors have different ideological attachments.’ (p. 119). These being said, in the next section, some studies in the related literature will be reviewed.
In a world satiated with the internet, obtaining a sound judgment as to what is to be considered a reliable text in the cyber-space is a must both for fulfilling the possible expectations raised in the stage of global communication and for assuring our safety and integrity in the face of such probably ongoing exchanges. Speaking of the nature of “the Net” as a powerful tool for “sharing information without boundaries” and its “ability for global communications in a heartbeat”, Krause (2011) refers to the internet as “a platform for illicit and unethical shenanigans” (p. 1062). In a different yet compatible tone, Crystal (2011, p. 123), referring to the probable detriments arising from the discursive dimensions of ‘internet linguistics’, states that “[i]ndividual sentences, viewed in isolation, may appear to be quite innocent”, and he further adds, “when viewed as part of a sequence with other sentences does a picture emerge of a hidden intension”. Underscoring the necessity for a deepening of the criminological knowledge about cybercrime, Wall (2008, pp. 45-58), while pointing to “a large gap in our understanding of cybercrime”, maintains that “cybercrimes certainly do exist, but they are being looked at through the wrong lens”. Calling the virtual environment a “second home”, Williams (2010, p. 103) gives fair warning about the emergence of “new forms of sociopathic behaviour, which present themselves in abundance, being disregarded due to their ‘virtual status’, while similar crimes in the real world are subject to intensive investigation”. Williams (2010) then places emphasis on the necessity of “having to incorporate justice models, regulatory frameworks and security patrols” in the online environments in order to be able to “curtail any disruptive or potentially harmful behaviour” (p. 103). Viewed as such, researches have been carried out to tackle with the issue at hand from a different angle. Among such studies, one can refer to a study by Chiluwa (2009) who has adopted a pro-discourse approach to explore the issue of “digital deceptions” placed in emails known as ‘419’; where he concludes that the receiver-hoaxing communication as a genre “has become a regular part of our internet experience, and is not likely to be extinct in the near future” (p. 635). Mention also can be made of another study by Freiermuth (2011, p. 123) which refers to the so-called ‘419’ email as “a popular tool used by scammers to entice their victims”. Mention can be made also of two recent preliminary papers which have examined subjects such as 1) the anatomical structure of cyber-forgery correspondence in view of their general lingua-thematic message composition (Mehrpooya and Nowroozzadeh, 2022) and 2) the developmental structure of the episodic scenario laid out in a basic typology of cyber-fraud correspondence (Nowroozzadeh and Mehrpooya, 2022). As such, both outlined papers, viewing the issue of cyber-fraud correspondence from the point of discourse analysis, have underlined the criticality of “cyber-fraud correspondence” as a serious issue in today’s digital give-and-take. As seen, the employment of CDA analysis does not seem to be a special-purpose reference tool to tackle with the issue of discoursal manipulation in cyberspace discourse and the researches are more of the category- and pattern-seeking nature. More importantly still, having a glance at the related literature suggests that the majority of research papers published in the field of CDA are dedicated to analysing pro-politics discourse(s), depending on the situational and societal as well as historical priorities of the target communities where the studies are conducted. Therefore, there sounds to be an empirical gap concerning the dedication of more pro-CDA efforts to address the issue of discursive manipulation in cyberspace correspondence. This being said, the discourse of cyber-fraud correspondence is justified to be given an in-depth critical analysis, a critical need the present study has planned to address via a CDA approach.
4.1 Discourse as unit of DA/CDA
As a unit of textual communication, discourse is a tangible asset to be used for the critical analysis of language; however, the term ‘discourse’ has been defined and implemented differently across different streams of scholarship and disciplines. Viewed from the standpoint of discourse analysis (DA), a piece of discourse is to be regarded as an event of ‘social interaction’ (Fairclough, 1989). Looking through the critical lens of discourse analysis, Fairclough (1989) emphasizes that one of CDA’s main concerns has to do with revealing the conscious working mechanisms behind the exercise of power through employing the discursive devices. In the same vein, Van Dijk (2005) emphasizes: “Indeed, many of the ways power abuse operates in communication, as is the case for manipulation, involve specific knowledge strategies in discourse” (p. 72). Based on what was just stated, one such means of investigation to be kept fairly at our disposal in carrying out research into the issue of cyber-forgery can be Discourse Analysis (DA), or Critical Discourse Analysis for that matter. As duly pointed to by Henderson (2010, p. 12), Fairclough identifies a discursive event “as simultaneously a piece of text, an instance of discursive practice and an instance of social practice”. For Crystal (2008), “discourse […] is a set of utterances which constitute any recognizable speech event” (p. 148). In this regard, a piece of discursive text has been used to provoke a favorable response through constructing a theatrical discursive scenario, thus securing addressee’s consent. As such, the point of focus maintained by the present research is to explore the issue of cyber-forgery allegedly presumed to be hidden behind an exemplary piece of discourse, what has assumed to further initiate a series of online email correspondences. That being said, the criterion for selecting the sample text has been the authenticity of the email correspondence itself decided upon via the ‘expert judgement’ provided by three referees.
4.2 Objectives of the study
This study is qualitative in nature and employs a content-mining approach to achieve its dual purposes: Firstly, by employing the Fairclough’s CDA formula to examine a discoursal sample of cyberspace correspondence, this study aims to clarify how the text at hand lends itself to CDA analysis in terms of the main tenets of discursive manipulation; and secondly, by detecting the probable trace(s) of a manipulative scheme running through the text, this study aims to explore what lingua-thematic patterns might be detected in a typical piece of email correspondence allegedly presumed to be fraudulent. As such, the procedure adopted to achieve the above two-fold goal is to critically read and analyze a purposively-selected sample of email correspondence presumably judged to contain a devious intention. Thus, the procedure employed in this study is one of analyzing a text and detecting the shady items supposed to be supporting the existence of some cyber-forgery intention.
Thus, the rationale behind carrying out this analytical study is the hypothetical presumption that cyberspace correspondence can be used as a deliberate discursive action to manipulate an email candidate into favorable reaction. It is hypothesized that the analysis of such an initiatory case when juxtaposed and compared with other similar cases can be used as the groundwork based on which more reliable predictions will be made regarding the issue at hand. In practical terms, based on the results of this study and its further replicative administrations in the future certain preventive measures may consequently be proffered in regard to fostering the issue of awareness-raising as it might be required of the end-users in their everyday discursive cyberspace encounters. One should notice that the sample text to be critically analyzed is one of articulate composition suggestively written to be regarded as admissible and legitimate by the accustomed email receiver, legitimate to the extent that even the Gmail spam-identifying system did not report it as ‘spam’. Thus, in the notable absence of such alarming identification by an authorized email service, the act of rendering such a critical analysis is justified, firstly to bring the existence of such discursive applications into the readers’ awareness just to raise their consciousness regarding the probable ill-intention or misuse which might have sparked off such a practice; and secondly to provide an instance of the possibility of proposing an exemplary model of textual analysis via employing the procedural modules of critical discourse analysis, i.e. CDA. However, having no wish to induce the public attitude with skepticism, assertion must be made that this study will cherish no hope to becloud the users’ peace of mind in their everyday cyber encounters.
4.3 Research questions
Based on the two-fold goal of the study that is to investigate the feasibility of employing a CDA-oriented formula to analyze and detect the probably existing traces of a veiled intention of cyber-forgery in a sample of email correspondence, the present study has aimed to address the following research questions: 1) How the text at hand lends itself to CDA analysis in terms of the main tenets of discursive manipulation proposed in Fairclough’s CDA formula? The answer to the first question is to be provided by employing the most relevant tenets of Fairclough’s CDA formula applicable to the discursive text at hand. The second question which actually aims to provide discursive details to documentatively substantiate the answer to the first question will be: 2) What manipulative patterns might be detected in a discursive piece of email correspondence allegedly presumed to be fraudulent. The answer to the second question is to be provided by detecting the probable trace(s) of a manipulative scheme running through the text based on employing relevant tenets of Fairclough’s CDA formula. In the next section, the research procedure to address the above-mentioned questions will follow.
4.4 Fairclough’s CDA formula: A procedural framework
As previously stated, the procedural framework for the CDA analysis in this article is based on Fairclough’s CDA formula (1989). The so-called CDA formula as proposed by Fairclough involves three main levels of analysis consisting of 1) Vocabulary 2) Grammar and 3) Textual structures. Each level is examined according to certain values in the related questions raised: Firstly, The level of ‘vocabulary’ touches upon the experiential, relational, expressive, and metaphoric values; secondly, the level of ‘grammar’ touches upon the experiential, relational, expressive, and sentential values; and thirdly, the level of ‘textual structures’ touches upon some extra-sentential values such as interactional conventions and large-scale structures. The ten formal values mentioned, ‘formal’ used in relevance to form vs sense dichotomy, have some sub-elements which are to be located and examined in a CDA analysis with respect to their role in the whole manipulative scenario. However, the selection of the pro-CDA evaluative items and their related elaborations must be conducted on the basis of the discoursal features of the text under study. As for the present study, the use of such lexical mechanisms as ‘overwording’, ‘formal/informal’ dichotomy, ‘metaphorical representation’ from the first level, the pro-sentential dichotomies as ‘agency’, ‘nominalization’, and ‘active/passive’, ‘positive/negative’, and ‘coordination/subordination’ [forms] from the second level, as well as the ‘interactional’ conventions, i.e. SV structures as well as intertextual relations from the third level have been dealt with and analyzed in terms of their discoursal role in the text, each in its due turn.
4.5 Research procedure
The text to be analyzed in this CDA Analysis is an authentic piece of discourse initiating a multi-item series of cyber-space correspondence exchanged between a seemingly legitimate addresser and a chosen email-user as the addressee. In so doing, using the CDA formula already pointed to, the selected text has been analyzed and probed for the items of manipulative scheme. The criterion for detecting the problematic parts in the text has been based on raising the most applicable questions in the Fairclough’s CDA formula as their discoursal proof(s) might be located in the text under study. Statedly, the criterion procedure itself is “organized around ten main questions (and some sub-questions) which can be asked of a text’ (Fairclough, 1989, p. 110), what is to be regarded just as a ‘guide’ and should not be treated as a ‘blue print’ or ‘holy writ’, to use Fairclough’s terminology. Therefore, the existing set of the ten main questions and their sub-questions are modifiable in their application and are open to adaptable recasting, i.e. being eliminated or augmented, all depending on the specifications of the text under analysis. Due to the nature of the study, the procedure of text analysis has been performed to collect the intended data, a process which has resulted in verbal, non-numerical data. The collected data has then been analyzed primarily on the basis of the most relevant tenets adopted from Fairclough’s CDA formula. In this phase, the collected data, or the problematic items for that matter, will be analyzed and any manipulative patterns emerging will be identified and clarified in terms of the functional significance each might acquire in the manipulative process.
In what follows, the discursive analysis of a so-called Congratulations Letter addressing an e-mail user, who is allegedly stated to be a lottery-winning candidate, is provided. The assumption is that the cyber-text at hand is a case of fraudulent correspondence and contains certain discursive manipulative elements that are suggestive of the critical issue to be examined. To this respect, the CDA formula of discourse analysis provided by Fairclough (1989) has been employed to approach the case in point. Below follows the cyber-correspondence text in its co-textual format. The point is that, to keep the confidentiality and avoid the bias resulting from the limited access to sufficient data, the name and details of the concerned addressee are erased from the sample online letter under study.
Figure 1. Image of a so-called Congratulations Letter addressing an e-mail-user as a lottery-winning candidate
Noting that the case in point as a congratulation letter, includes the initial correspondence text centering on an alleged lottery-winning case, the following analysis is proposed – yet in the broader dimension of discoursal rather than sentential level – which is a detailed perusal of the main letter to be examined from the perspective of CDA. Here it should be underlined that not all the categorical questions provided in the Fairclough’s 1989 version of CDA formula has been, and actually are to be, addressed and answered, since any text has its own specific textual features and thus possesses its own specific bones of discussion. Therefore, the following analysis will reflect a marked preference for the more pertinent questions applicable to the case under study.
Having a preliminary précis of the probable intention insinuated from the discursive scenario at hand, the primary focus in the rest of this article will be on critically analyzing a certain set of existing formal features in the initial cyber-correspondence text which altogether are thought to possibly attain the major intention predefined by the text producers, that is the “particular choices from among the options (e.g. of vocabulary or grammar) available in the discourse types which the text draws upon” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 110). As such, the initial CDA examination of the text at hand has to do with the ‘experiential value’ of certain words. It is to be stated that there is a foregrounding of the idea of chance and fortuity in the textual project at issue, what is to be realized by a high degree of over-wording and metaphorical representation present in the text. Mention here also needs to be made of the ‘causality’ role given to ‘chance’ or ‘fortuity’, hence foregrounding the ‘agency’ of ‘chance/fortuity’ or ‘mere coincidence’ at work in lieu of ‘human labor’ or his/her ‘conscious effort’. This can be related to that state defined by Fairclough as “who is represented as causing what to happen, who is represented as doing what to whom” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 51), what is also given the terminological designation of “causality” in Fairclough’s formula. Notwithstanding the fact that Fairclough’s terminological designation of “causality” is expressed in a different semantico-syntactic shading wherein the process of “nominalization” works just to give “causality” an “unspecified” status in identity (Fairclough, 1989, p. 51). As for this, the causative sentence “your eMail Address has just Won you the sum of …” – NB: The use of initial large-scale letters in ‘eMail Address’ and ‘Won’ as opposed to small-scale letter in ‘your’ is suggestive here – clearly shows such a state of ‘causality/agency’ for chance /fortuity as confronted by the lack of causality/agency as such on the human side.
To refer to the idea of “over-wording”, it should be noted that this state is defined by Fairclough (1989) as “an unusually high degree of wording, often involving many words which are near synonyms”, itself showing a “preoccupation with some aspect of reality” (p. 115). These being said, such a state of over-wording is to be seen in such instances as follows:
Before embarking on what discursive devices substantiate and support the idea of ‘chance’ and promise of ‘winning’, a preliminary note on the potential of commonsensical, or ideological for that matter, assumptions dominating the whole discoursal act in the case at hand is due. Yet, in spite of the commonsensical perception of the word ‘ideology’ in the mainstream CDA discourse being found in particular relevance to sociopolitical practices, it should be restated that the application of the term ‘ideology’ in its most pertinent sense to the present study refers to the “instrumental ideology of language” where “language” is used “as a tool for getting things done” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 115). This being said, as for the case in point, notes need to be taken that ‘fraudulence’ as a social practice in the real world has turned also to be a commonsensical scheme which has found its way to the virtual world. Referring to what was stated in regard to the concept of ‘ideology’ in its most applicable sense related to the present study, the discursive context of the fraudulent scheme present in the text under study can be analyzed as follows: The ‘idea of living in a better world’ as one commonsensical, and therefore ideological, assumption stands in complementary collaboration with another socially accepted convention, that is the idea of ‘lottery winning’, or ‘chance’ for that matter, only to form a powerful scheme of ‘fraudulence’. In the context of the ideological struggle as such, one party, i.e. email sender, plans to use the language manipulatively to construct a text which contains a message for a candidate user, i.e. email receiver, who is going to be victimized via manipulative persuasion. Here, the lottery-winning discourse is used by the fraudster to manipulatively persuade the subject and provoke in him/her a possible response in favor of taking the bait. Given that, the present case study aims to identify the discursive odds of such a fraudulent scheme in a typical sample of cyberspace correspondence. Let’s go through the related analytical proof:
The next CDA question has to do with the choice of certain words which according to Fairclough (1989) “depends on, and helps create, social relationships between participants” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 116). As for the case in point, the degree of formality with which the text is so interlaced brings with itself a sense of verbal officiality or accreditation; though it is prominently, yet spuriously and inconsistently, displayed. This sense of verbal officiality or accreditation augments the credibility of the text message more verbally, what is, of course, transmitted by the vocabulary used within certain sentential structures. The instances of ‘word choice’ follow:
Another line of argument in this study comes from the use of certain metaphors or symbolic elements which according to Fairclough are “means of representing one aspect of experience in terms of another” (Fairclough, 1989, p.119). Such an aspect of experience when represented in metaphoric terms, or metaphorical phraseology for that matter, results in a kind of extended metaphoric-discursive scheme being formed, itself having a variety of systemic and semantic shades attached to that.
A further point of discursive concern has to do with the experiential values attached to the grammatical features used. This has to do, first, with the question of foregrounding the agency role attached to the e-mail-address as the winning ticket, in a sense that all such declarative sentences are attributed to the e-mail address as the agent and are expressed in active voice. Here again, the ‘causality’ role has been given to the ‘e-mail address’ and not to the human entity as receiver of the email, thus foregrounding the ‘agency’ role of ‘chance/fortuity’ or ‘mere coincidence’ at work in lieu of ‘human labor’ or his/her ‘conscious effort’. The instances here are in active voice, the subject (S) is “an untypically inanimate agent” of an “action process”, “attribution process”, or “event process” (Fairclough, 1989, p. 123). Worthwhile to mention that Fairclough’s use of the term ‘agency’ here receives a specific emphasis and fairly relates to the same idea in Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL was proposed by Halliday and his followers during the 1960s (O’Donnell, 2012, p. 1)); however, it should be noted that it is the deliberate “obfuscation of the agency” which is more the locus of attention here.
As for what expressive values the grammatical features may appear to offer, there is almost no trace of using any modal auxiliaries in the text under question as the authenticity claims are all evidenced by simple taken-for-granted statements. Giving a sense of certainty to the subject in the present text augments the credibility of the text message. As defined by Richards and Schmidt (2010, p. 369) the modals “indicate attitudes of the speaker/ writer towards the state or event expressed by another verb, i.e. which indicate different types of modality”. The function of auxiliary modals thus may be contrasted with the state-of-the-fact verbal tenses where an event or state is expressed by a single verb with absolute or near certainty, which is similar to the taken-for-granted statements in the text at hand. Explained as such, this issue of raising a sense of ‘certainty’ is related to the theme of CDA analysis as proposed in this study.
The next critical point turns around infusing a sense of probable acceptability into the message, what appears to realize in the existence of certain formal features which have to do with the relationship between the text and outside situational context as well as other individual references, that is the function of ‘intertextuality’. Here, however, before proceeding to provide the pertinent analysis in this regard, a marginal note is due in regard to explaining the notions of text, textuality, and intertextuality all in complementary go-togetherness with one another.
The notions of text, textuality, and intertextuality are closely interrelated ideas in discussions of discourse analysis. As a pre-theoretical concept employed in linguistics, a ‘text’ refers to “a stretch of language recorded for the purpose of analysis and description” (Crystal, 2008, p. 481). In the wider dimension of context with its socio-cultural reference(s), ‘textuality’ refers to “the attributes that distinguish the text as an object of enquiry”, then, “if read in isolation from the broader social matrix in which it is inherently a part, a text becomes incomplete and indeterminate” (Rhiney, 2010, p. 2809-10). As such, in analyzing a text as a piece of discourse, the socio-cultural roles interplayed by different entities in the context are of special significance. Therefore, as far as a text exists and stands in connection with its surrounding context, it has attributes which might entail its ‘textuality’ as an essential feature of its relation with the context. Relatedly, looking at Julia Kristeva’s formulation of ‘intertextuality’ (1960s), Abrams and Harpham (2015, p. 398) state: “any text is in fact an “intertext”— the site of an intersection of numberless other texts, and existing only through its relations to other texts”. Regarding the fact that any text is produced and placed within the wider context of its situational and referential surroundings, one has to admit that the production of no text occurs in a ‘void’; and the cyber-texts are not exceptions either as they are the virtual tools to act within the context of the cyberspace. It is in the same regard that Ryan (1999) writes: “The idea of doing things with text also prevails in the case of electronic writing” (p. 99). These being said in terms of the existence of certain formal items in a text having to do with ‘intertextuality’, the so-called elements, regardless of whether the outside entities can be identified in the micro-world of virtuality or the macro-world of the reality, are to be marked within the text.
Last but not least, the ultimate point to be made here concerns the existence of a larger-scale discursive structure which binds this single piece of text together:
As seen, to answer the research questions posed in this study, the CDA formula for text analysis was used. In so doing, the techniques in CDA procedure as provided by Fairclough (1989) and found applicable to the text under study were used to help reveal the planned manipulation of discourse by the alleged sender cum fraudster. In fine, the hypothesis that the text sender might have used textual manipulation as a powerful means of swaying the receiver’s decision to one’s favor is supported. Viewing the act of ‘Cyberspace correspondence exchange’ as speech event, or event of cyber-social interaction for that matter, the results of employing the CDA procedural framework, as provided in Fairclough CDA formula (1989), to analyze a sample of cyberspace discourse with 'appears to be in favor of the applicability of the so-called techniques in order for unthreading the supposedly alleged manipulative intention(s) hidden behind the text.
Though some might believe that the advent of any new cyberspace technology brings with itself certain myth-makings about the possible consequences originating from such ‘virtual incomers’, it seems reasonable to think of such a skepticism as healthy in part; however, mythologizing is one thing but optimistic naivety is another. In the context of cyberspace as is the case with other modes of communication, it is possible as well as probable to use whatever discoursal means and matters to establish a sense of ‘rapport’ with an addressee, just to simulate a replica of reality based on a make-believe security scenario. As shown in the present analysis, certain discursive clues at lexical, sentential, textual, and intertextual levels can be found in a piece of cyber-discourse, or a cyber-text for that matter, which though varying in terms of their manipulative import, might be altogether capable of alluring an addressee into admitting an unknown, fake agency as a valid one. Thus, such a scheme is to be set up by proposing the dubious promise of fulfilling what the victim wants via textual manipulation. Adopting a CDA approach to analyze such text types can be helpful in revealing the likelihood of cyber forgery where manipulative acting upon discourse may allure users engaged in online activity to a wrong course of action within the cyberspace. Therefore, the present study has aimed to provide a CDA analysis of an authentic cyber-text assumedly bound to enact a discursive scenario of textual manipulation in the cyber world. In so doing, referring to some major and minor queries raised in the CDA formula provided by N. Fairclough (1989), which has been meant to act as ‘a guide and not a blueprint’ in this regard, this study has addressed the question of the existence of probable discursive clues suggestive of planned manipulative action upon cyber-space discourse users. The outcome of the results obtained, firstly, verifies the applicability of applying the CDA formula (Fairclough, 1989) as a viable research proposition to analyzing the text type at hand, i.e. the text of cyberspace correspondence addressed to a candidate email-user allegedly nominated for lottery-winning, at the lexical, sentential, and textual levels (though modified in accordance with the text’s discoursal specifications); and secondly, it provides a list of manipulative discursive elements in the form of lingua-thematic patterns to be detected upon analyzing such typical pieces of cyberspace discourse via CDA formula. As such, this CDA analytical rendition as a sample model is to be presented to the law, language, and internet researchers as well as the interested end-users and readers as a cautionary note towards a more critical consideration of such online encounters, hence helping to increase the necessary awareness of the field under study and avoid the probable consequences of getting involved in such fraudulent schemes.
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