Diverse internal and external factors can act as vehicles of change in academic discourse: the socio-cognitive needs of individual users, the influence of material conditions of the world, variation in disciplinary ethos and (local) academic cultures, the development, growth and status of different channels of communication. Abstracts have recently become a standard feature of research articles across most disciplines. The current growth of English as the international language of research publicationshas intensified cultural contact and possibly brought about new international standards in rhetoric and language use. The spread of electronic journals and databases has favoured features that facilitate the extraction of information, often based on a selective rather than sequential reading pattern. Increased competitiveness may also have influenced formats and style of presentation, giving abstracts both informative and promotional value. The present study carries out a micro-diachronic analysis of authorial "voice" in three comparable corpora of abstracts in the fields of economics, linguistics and history. Focusing on a range of markers of authorial voice, the analysis shows the interrelatedness of voice markers in abstract writing. The notion of voice, though fuzzy and open-ended, proves helpful in bringing together different markers of the presence of an author: forms of self-reference as well as other markers of stance and argument. Cross-disciplinary analysis shows elements of convergence and divergence across disciplines. When looking at convergences, the statistically significant increase of self-referential "we" over the time span considered is shown to be part of a general increase in first-person markers. This in turn is accompanied by a steady increase in personal references and – above all – of “locational” self-reference (reference to the paper) in subject position, producing “framing sequences” that highlight the informative structure of the abstract and authorial academic voice at the same time. When looking at disciplinary preferences, on the other hand, we notice that in the corpus of history authorial visibility relies more on contrastive connectors, evaluative adjectives and locational self-mention than on personal references. The economic corpus shows a decided preference for personal markers, while keeping at average levels in all other forms. Linguistic abstracts, finally, show a marked preference for locational self-reference and modalization. The results of the analysis confirm the hypothesis that these diverse features can be seen as a series of options (micro-systems of meaning)marking the author’s presence in the text (discourse persona). The diachronic perspective also shows that present-day scholars are becoming aware of the need to facilitate readers’ access to the text and to attract readers’ attention within a growing body of publications. The study also suggests increasing awareness of a writer’s need to sustain a reputation and to acknowledge the expertise of readers by choosing modalized statements and ‘non-subjective’ forms of self rererence.
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|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Titolo:||Changing voices: authorial voice in abstracts|
|Titolo del libro:||Abstracts in academic discourse|
|Nome editore:||PETER LANG|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Capitolo/Saggio|
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