On the verge between Ancient and Modern Times. A linguistic analysis of Urban Exploration practices


Recently the fascination with the aesthetics of abandoned places has stepped into the limelight as a new form of tourism known as Urbex or Urban Exploration, which involves discovering abandoned places and reporting the exploration with documentary evidence on specialized websites and blogs. This paper aims to investigate online discourse on Urbex by analyzing how urban exploration is talked about in two different online spaces, i.e., interest-based communities where discussion about the activity of visiting abandoned places among members is fostered and encouraged (Reddit), and more public, monologic spaces, such as blogs and websites, where longer texts are produced with a more descriptive/commercial purpose. To reach this goal, a comparative analysis of keywords and selected key terms was carried out on two ad-hoc corpora, i.e., the Urban Website Corpus (UW-Corpus) and the Urban Reddit Corpus (UR-Corpus). Results show that the linguistic choices of urban explorers highlight the existence of tension between the core tenets and ethical principles of urban exploration - avoiding disclosure of exact location, focusing on sites disregarded by preservationists, awareness of legal repercussions for trespassing - and a shift towards a more mainstream, regulated type of activity. In the UR-Corpus, distinctive language forms suggest that Urbex aficionados constitute a discourse community.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v58p223

Keywords: corpus linguistics; online tourism discourse; Reddit; urban exploration


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