This chapter deals with a study of personal pronouns in context and aims at revealing trends in popular and research articles written by historians. Focusing on two pronouns that turn out to be positive and negative keywords when comparing popular and research writing, the analysis has focused first on distinguishing averred from attributed forms and then on patterns of semantic preference and semantic sequence. Corpus and genre have played a key role in approaches to English for Academic Purposes (EAP) over the past 20 years. The interplay between the two notions, far from leading to contradictory methods, has proved extremely fruitful both from a descriptive and from a pedagogic point of view (Swales 2002). The integration of tools that can be related to the two notions has provided excellent means for the analysis of language variation across genres, cultures and disciplines. Swales’s (1990) seminal book on genre analysis initiated a vast area of EAP studies combining descriptive and pedagogic interest in the role of genre-based studies (Bhatia 1993, 2004; Berkenkotter/Huckin 1995; Johns 1997, 2002; Hyland 2000, 2006; Paltridge 2001; Swales 2004). Genre, defined as a class of communicative events with a particular purpose recognized by a discourse community (Swales 1990), rapidly became the focus of analysis and the key organizing principle of pedagogic programmes. Genres are staged, goal-oriented social processes in Hallidayan terms (cf. Halliday/Matthiesen 2004, Martin/Rose 2007). This means that they are described in terms of sequences of moves and steps (representing their generic structure) with elements of variation: there can be optional moves, a flexible order, and patterns of embedding and repetition. The fact that they are seen as social processes accounts for their dynamism (change across different contexts, in response to new media or to changes in the cultural and disciplinary background) and for the major role played by intertextual reference to other texts. Corpus approaches to language analysis (e.g. Sinclair 1991, 2004; Stubbs 1996, 2001; Tognini Bonelli 2001; Hunston 2002) have greatly contributed to register studies, as “a corpus is a collection of naturally occurring language text, chosen to characterize a state or a variety of a language” (Sinclair 1991: 171). Specialized corpora can thus be used to describe the practices of particular discourse communities (Biber et al. 1998; Ghadessy et al. 2001; Gavioli 2005; Connor/Upton 2004; Biber 2006). Wordlists reveal the range and frequency of occurrence of language items; concordances allow the study of specific items in their lexico-grammatical, semantic and pragmatic environment; phraseology contributes to the exploration of systematic relations between text and form (Sinclair 2004). Genre studies have rapidly taken advantage of the potential of corpus linguistics (e.g. Hyland 1998; Bondi 1999) and have become firmly rooted in a growing body of literature focusing on the integration of corpus and discourse approaches (Partington et al. 2004; Baker 2006, Ädel/Reppen 2008). This means relating textual practices to language choice, so that statements about genre can be supported with reference to data and, on the other hand, corpus data are not only described but also interpreted in terms of textual structure and social action (Bondi 2008). Attention to frequency and patterns highlights the existence of systematic relations in texts on a functional or semantic basis. The whole process can be seen as a form of interaction between the analyst and different types of data and methodological tools. Moving beyond the corpus-based vs corpus-driven distinction (Tognini-Bonelli 1993), but still keeping the distinction in mind as a heuristic tool, corpus work can be seen as both ‘catalysing’ the analysis (in a corpus-driven direction) and supporting the interpretation of data in terms of discourse (in a corpus-based direction). The two perspectives co-construct the research process. Genre and corpus are powerful resources for the teacher. As tools for syllabus design and materials development, they have led to more explicit repertoires for teaching/assessing purposes, helping teachers identify genres and their rhetorical structure, typical lexis, grammar and phraseology. Genre analysis has greatly contributed to selecting authentic tasks for students, whereas corpus linguistics has helped shift the focus from what is ‘possible’ in the language to what is ‘probable’ in a specific discourse area relevant to students. Together they have supported the development of reference materials (grammars, dictionaries, coursebooks) based on authentic language use and greatly contributed to EAP in particular (Bondi/Diani 2009) Genre and corpus approaches can be used to heighten learners’ awareness of language in use, through such observation skills as validating, formulating and checking hypotheses about the rhetorical structures and language characterizing specific communicative situations (Flowerdew 2005). Genre-specific corpora can be developed by the learners themselves and used independently, thus becoming learner-centred tools for life-long learning (Charles 2007). Methodologically, the integration of these two perspectives has also implied an integrated approach to learning. Genre analysis has emphasised the use of authentic language and task-based learning; corpus work, on the other hand, has contributed to learning by ‘noticing’ or ‘discovery’ (Bernardini 2000, 2002). Activities often move from genre to corpus and back, focusing both on function (and the different ways in which a function is realized) and on form (multiple instances of the same pattern) (Bondi/Radighieri 2010). Of course there are also important caveats with both approaches. The problem with genre analysis is the rigidity of some of its classifications; critical analysts emphasize the need to avoid prescriptivism (Starfield 1996) and to promote flexibility without arbitrariness in genre categories and the naming of genres and communicative functions (Johns 2011). Selecting examples becomes a very exacting task for the teacher (the search for the ‘perfect’ text, according to Swales 2009), while learners should learn to combine communicative learning with (critical) awareness. Corpus analysis, on the other hand, runs the risk of atomization, focusing mainly on the smallest units of discourse. Teachers may find it very difficult to select appropriate corpora and to choose which items to focus on, design tasks and generalize findings (Ajimer 2009), integrating top-down and bottom-up approaches (Charles 2007). This chapter discusses the challenges and opportunities of combining the two approaches, as well as ways of integrating them through a study of language variation across research genres and popular genres in the discipline of history. Starting from elements of variation between research articles and popular articles, as outlined in genre studies, this analysis focuses on voice markers that characterize the two sets of data. Corpus data have helped us to test hypotheses as to the nature of the genres examined. What exactly is meant by recontextualization in popular writing? What distinguishes the writer’s voice in research and popular writing? Starting from word forms highlighted by quantitative analysis of the corpora, it was possible to use qualitative concordance analysis to illuminate the process of reader engagement that characterizes popular genres. Raising awareness of the different co-texts can guide learners to understand the important difference between research and popular writing, thus helping them to master the resources of authorial voice in different genres.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Titolo:||Integrating corpus and genre approaches: phraseology and voice across EAP genres.|
|Titolo del libro:||Corpus Analysis for Descriptive and Pedagogical Purposes|
|Nome editore:||PETER LANG|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Capitolo/Saggio|
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