Administrative Reports

A Corpus Study of the Genre in the EU and Polish National Settings

by Katarzyna Wasilewska (Author)
Monographs 400 Pages


This book is the first comprehensive study of administrative reports. It investigates the reports prepared in the EU and national settings using a multidimensional genre analysis model. The book provides an account of the context of production and use of the reports and a corpus analysis of the macrostructure, lexico-grammatical patterns and multimodal aspects of the reports. Administrative reports are a hybrid and dynamic genre with salient linguistic features and two varieties: a highly institutionalised EU one, and a more varied national one. The reports are a powerful instrument in the communication policy of the institutions, performing informative and image-building functions. The book is an important contribution to the study of administrative language and the Eurolect.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Glossing abbreviations
  • Acknowledgement
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Theoretical background
  • Chapter 1. Genre analysis
  • 1.1. Discourse, register, style and genre
  • 1.2. Genre analysis models
  • Chapter 2. Administrative reports as a genre
  • 2.1. Administrative reports in the system of genres
  • 2.2. Administrative reports as part of the information policy of the public institutions
  • 2.2.1. Information and communication policy of the EU institutions
  • Multilingualism in the EU
  • Multilingualism in the recruitment process of EU institutions
  • Tenders
  • Conclusions
  • 2.2.2. Information and communication policy of Polish administration
  • 2.2.3. Conclusions
  • 2.3. The language of administration
  • 2.3.1 Administrative Polish
  • 2.3.2 Plain language in administrative drafting
  • 2.4. Professional and institutional practices of drafting and translating administrative reports
  • 2.4.1. Drafting and translation at EU institutions
  • Part II. Methodology
  • Chapter 3. Corpus linguistics
  • 3.1. Corpus linguistics as a methodology
  • 3.2. Corpus Translation Studies
  • 3.2.1. Baker’s translation universals
  • 3.2.2. Toury’s laws
  • 3.2.3. Chesterman’s textual fit
  • 3.2.4. Textual fit and the metadiscourse
  • 3.3. Word- and keyword lists
  • 3.4. Lexical bundles
  • 3.5. Statistical methods in corpus linguistics
  • 3.5.1. Normalisation of data
  • 3.5.2. Descriptive statistics
  • 3.5.3. Inferential statistics
  • 3.5.4. Effect size measures
  • Chapter 4. Research material and software
  • 4.1. Corpus design
  • 4.2. Compilation of the corpora
  • 4.2.1. Compilation of the corpus of EU reports
  • 4.2.2. Compilation of the corpus of post-accession Polish administrative reports
  • 4.2.3. Compilation of the corpus of pre-accession Polish administrative reports
  • 4.3. Corpus statistics
  • 4.4. Software used in the study
  • Part III. Empirical analysis
  • Chapter 5. The macrostructure of EU and PL administrative reports
  • 5.1. Selection of the texts for analysis
  • 5.2. The macrostructure of EU reports
  • 5.3. The macrostructure of PL reports
  • 5.4. Conclusions
  • Chapter 6. Textual fit – an identification of patterns for comparison
  • 6.1. Descriptive statistics: comparison of corpora
  • 6.2. Analysis of wordlists and keyword list
  • 6.2.1. Function words
  • 6.2.2. Content words
  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • 6.3. Analysis of lexical bundles
  • 6.3.1. Frequency threshold
  • 6.3.2. Length of a bundle
  • 6.3.3. Dispersion threshold (range)
  • 6.3.4. Lexical bundles in the corpora of reports
  • Chapter 7. The textual fit of patterns characteristic of administrative reports
  • 7.1. Nominal and verbal patterns
  • 7.1.1. Nouns and verbs within the top 500 words
  • 7.1.2. Deverbal nouns and corresponding verbs
  • 7.1.3. Nominal and verbal patterns in selected excerpts
  • Verbal patterns
  • Noun chains and compounds
  • Lexical density
  • 7.1.4. Conclusions
  • 7.2. Institutional self-reference and (de)personalisation
  • 7.2.1. Passive voice
  • 7.2.2. Impersonal forms: verbs with the -no, -to suffix
  • 7.2.3. The się pattern
  • 7.2.4. Personal and possessive pronouns
  • First- and second-person pronouns
  • Third-person pronouns
  • 7.2.5. Conclusions
  • 7.3. Text organisation
  • 7.3.1. Taxis
  • Parataxis
  • Hypotaxis
  • Conclusions
  • 7.3.2. Prepositions
  • Simple prepositions
  • Compound and complex prepositions
  • Semantic functions of compound and complex prepositions
  • Conclusions
  • 7.3.3. Text deixis
  • 7.3.4. Framing with adverbials
  • 7.3.5. Conclusions
  • 7.4. Expression of stance
  • 7.4.1. Epistemic stance
  • 7.4.2. Deontic stance
  • 7.4.3. Móc
  • 7.4.4. Conclusions
  • 7.5. Communication of numbers
  • 7.5.1. Small digits
  • 7.5.2. Summing up
  • 7.5.3. Percentage share
  • 7.5.4. Hedging
  • 7.5.5. References to dates
  • 7.5.6. References to legislative acts and other documents
  • 7.5.7. Conclusions
  • 7.6. Abbreviations and acronyms
  • 7.6.1. Abbreviations
  • 7.6.2. Acronyms
  • 7.6.3. Conclusions
  • 7.7. Textual fit of translated reports – conclusions
  • Chapter 8. Terminological variation in administrative reports
  • 8.1. Approaches to terminology
  • 8.2. Specificity of EU terminology work
  • 8.3. Term variation
  • 8.4. Denominative term variation in the corpora
  • Chapter 9. Diachronic change in administrative Polish
  • 9.1. The analysis of the keyword lists
  • 9.2. Conclusions
  • Chapter 10. Multimodal aspects of reports
  • 10.1. Multimodal aspects of the EU reports
  • 10.2. Multimodal aspects of Polish reports
  • 10.2.1. Multimodality in the synchronic PL PL corpus
  • 10.2.2. Multimodality in the pre-accession PL corpus
  • 10.3. Conclusions
  • Chapter 11. Synthesis and conclusions
  • The structure of the EU and PL reports
  • Linguistic profiling of reports
  • Multimodal aspects of reports
  • Concluding remarks
  • Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research
  • References
  • Appendix 1. Directorates and Ministries – names and scope of duties
  • Appendix 2. The number of documents included in the corpora
  • Appendix 3. Documents used in the analysis of the structure of administrative reports (Chapter 5) and nominalisation (Chapter 7.1.3)
  • Appendix 4. Documents used in the study of multimodal aspects of reports (Chapter 10).
  • Index of Names
  • Series index

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Abbreviations and acronyms

BIC Bayes Factor

BT back translation

CL Corpus Linguistics

CTS Corpus Translation Studies

DGT Directorate-General for Translation

EF expected frequency

EN translation into English

EU European Union

EUR-Lex official website of European Union law and other public documents of the European Union

IATE Interactive Terminology for Europe

L1 first position on the left before the search item

L2 second position on the left before the search item

LL Log Likelihood

NF normalised frequency

NKJP National Corpus of Polish

PL Polish

pmw per million words

POS part(s) of speech

R1 first position on the right after the search item

R2 second position on the right after the search item

RF raw frequency

ST source text

STTR standardised type/token ratio

TS Translation Studies

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Glossing abbreviations1

ABBR abbreviation

ACC accusative case

ADJ adjective

ADV adverb

DAT dative case

F feminine gender

FORM formal

FUT future tense

GEN genitive

IMPRS impersonal

INF infinitive

INFORM informal

INS instrumental case

IPFV imperfective

LOC locative case

M masculine gender

MID middle voice

N neuter gender

NEUT neutral register

NOM nominative case

NON-MASC-PERS non-masculine personal gender

PASS passive

PAST past tense

PFV perfective

PL plural

POSS possessive

PRED predicate

PRES present tense

PRO pronoun

PTCL particle

PTCP participle

REFL reflexive

SG singular

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1 Based on The Leipzig Glossing Rules available at https://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/pdf/Glossing-Rules.pdf (accessed May 2020).

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This book is the outcome of the author’s doctoral dissertation, which was the work package in a research project financed by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) with a SONATA BIS 4 grant No. UMO-2014/14/E/HS2/00782, “The Eurolect – An EU variant of Polish and its impact on administrative Polish”. The project studied four legal and semi-legal genres (legislation, judgments, reports and websites for citizens) representative of the Eurolect — a new hybrid, translator-mediated variety of the Polish language that has been evolving since Poland’s accession to the European Union (EU). The grant was awarded to Professor Łucja Biel of the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. The author of this book was employed as an investigator/doctoral student in the project.

I wish to thank Professor Łucja Biel, who was my supervisor during the PhD studies, for her guidance and invaluable support.

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Administrative reports are an important element in the chain of management of any institution, as they perform informative, monitoring, administrative and policy-making functions (cf. Prieto Ramos 2019: 39–40). However, there has been no comprehensive study of this genre so far. The aim of this book is to fill this gap by researching administrative reports which were prepared in two distinct settings: EU and national. The European Union fosters multilingualism and most of the published documents are available in all official languages (Wagner et al. 2012: 9). This has made it possible to compare national and EU reports on the linguistic level in Polish. The EU implements its multilingual regime through translation: the texts are generally drafted in English and then translated into the other official languages (cf. Felici 2015: 124, Strandvik 2017a: 56). Translations are often considered to be different from texts drafted in a given language, and EU translations are not an exception. The varieties of national languages which have emerged through the mediation of translation at EU institutions are called Eurolects (Biel 2020). Thus, the linguistic part of the study compares the language of national reports drafted originally in Polish with the Polish Eurolect found in the EU reports.

In order to thoroughly investigate the genre of administrative reports, the following research questions have been posed:

(1) What are the genre features of administrative reports?

(2) How are the translated EU reports different from the non-translated reports of Polish ministries, and are these differences significant enough to distinguish between the EU and national variant of administrative reports?

(3) Have the reports drafted by Polish ministries changed under the influence of the Eurolect since Polish accession to the EU?

These questions will be answered using predominantly corpus methods followed by qualitative interpretations. The study uses genre analysis model developed on the basis of Borja et al. (2009) and Bhatia (2017), and enriched by selected aspects of the translation research model proposed by Saldanha and O’Brien (2013). The study uses a genre-based comparable-parallel corpus designed by the present author, building on Biel (2016a). It includes reports drafted by Polish ministries and Polish and English versions of reports prepared by the Directorates-General of the European Commission. The time frame of the synchronic part of the corpus is 2011–2015, and the diachronic analysis is performed on the documents drafted in 1998–2002.

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Structure of the book

The book is divided into three parts. Part I provides a theoretical background for the study. Chapter 1 outlines the concept of genre analysis and its underlying constructs: discourse, register and style; and presents the model of genre analysis used in this study. Chapter 2 sets out a contextual background for the analysis of administrative reports by describing the place of administrative reports in the system of genres, presenting the information and communication policy of the EU and Polish administration, outlining the main features of the language of administration, and reporting drafting and translation practices behind EU and Polish reports. Part II sets out the methodological background. Chapter 3 outlines the principal issues in corpus linguistics and Corpus Translation Studies, word- and keyword list analysis and lexical bundle analysis, as well as statistical methods used in corpus linguistics. Chapter 4 presents the corpora used in the study and the software used during the compilation and analysis of the corpora. Part III comprises an empirical analysis of the corpora. Chapter 5 investigates the structure of the EU and PL reports based on Swales’ (1990) move analysis. Chapter 6 provides an analysis of wordlist, keyword and lexical bundle lists from both corpora, which aims at identifying salient patterns in the corpora of reports. In Chapter 7, patterns identified as characteristic of administrative reports (nominalisation, depersonalisation, text organisation, expression of stance, communication of numbers, and abbreviations and acronyms) are searched for over- or underrepresentation in the EU corpus against the PL corpus; the data is also set against a general reference corpus. Chapter 8 describes the findings from the analysis of terminological units in the corpora of reports, with a particular focus on terminological variation. Chapter 9 investigates the diachronic change in the national administrative reports and the possible influence of the Eurolect on the language of Polish administration. Chapter 10 takes on the perspective of multimodal discourse analysis and describes the non-linguistic aspects of the reports. The book closes with Chapter 11, which contains a synthesis and interpretation of the empirical findings, final conclusions, limitations of the study and suggestions for further research.

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Chapter 1. Genre analysis

This chapter sets out the theoretical background for genre analysis. First, it shortly outlines the concepts of discourse, register and style, which underlie the discussion of a genre, anchored in the English and Polish linguistic traditions. Next, it presents the model of genre analysis deployed in this study.

1.1. Discourse, register, style and genre

The concepts of discourse, register, style and genre are interrelated and their boundaries are not clear-cut, but they all shed light on the object of the study from a different perspective; they all form a continuum in which they represent a context for one another (Wojtak 2011: 70). Discourse is often conceptualised broadly as the whole communicative act, i.e. text plus context (e.g. Duszak 1998: 19, van Dijk 2008a: 3), or the language in use (e.g. Fairclough 2003: 3). It is closely related to conventional text production practices and the shared knowledge of the participants (van Dijk 2005: 71, Gruber 2013: 39, Flowerdew 2014: 1). In this vein, Swales (1990: 24–27) defines discourse community as a group of individuals who: (1) have a set of common goals, (2) communicate among themselves using specific mechanisms, (3) use these mechanisms mainly to provide information and feedback, (4) use specific genres for communication, (5) use specific lexis in communication, (6) have a certain threshold level of experts among them. A fluent command of genre is thus one of the defining features of a discourse community and fulfils its discursive expectations (Swales 1990: 26).

Genre has traditionally been conceptualised according to one of three key approaches in English linguistics: English for Specific Purposes (ESP), Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) or New Rhetoric. The ESP approach is represented by Swales (1990) and Biber with his collaborators (e.g. Biber 1988, Biber and Conrad 2009), as their research is generally based on the study of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) texts. Both researchers posit that the understanding of a genre is vital for communication in a professional community (cf. Swales 1990: 1, Biber and Conrad 2009: 34), but the approaches differ quite significantly in other respects. Swales (1990: 58) defines genre as “a class of communicative events” with shared communicative purposes recognised by a discourse community and with a schematic structure, defined content and style, intended for a specified audience. This definition indicates that genres may be identified based on both contextual and linguistic features. Biber (1988: 70), on the other hand, distinguishes between genres, which are categorised according to external criteria, and text types, identified based on their linguistic form irrespective of a genre. Text types (or text varieties in later works, e.g. Biber and Conrad 2009) are analysed from three perspectives: register, genre and style. The register perspective covers the analysis of pervasive linguistic features in a text variety combined with its situation of use; the genre perspective ←21 | 22→also includes the situational context, but the linguistic focus is on conventional patterns, which might occur only once in a complete text, but are generally present in all texts of this type; the style perspective focuses on common linguistic features, but these features are not functionally motivated by the context (Biber and Conrad 2009: 2). Biber’s approach differs from other genre theories in the delimitation of the concepts, but it is similar in essence in that text types/genres are a combination of specific register choices (Gruber 2013: 36).

The SFL approach, also called the Sydney School, is based on the Hallidayan Systemic-Functional Linguistics (Halliday 2004), developed further into Register and Genre Theory (RGT) by Martin and his collaborators (e.g. Eggins and Martin 1997, Martin 1999, Martin and Rose 2008) (cf. Flowedew and Wan 2010: 80, Gruber 2013: 33). RGT postulates that textual (linguistic) and contextual factors are strongly correlated (Eggins and Martin 1997: 233), and the manifestations of the context may be found in the text. The context in RTG comprises two levels: register, which corresponds to the Hallidayan “context of situation”, and genre, which corresponds to the “context of culture” (cf. Gruber 2013: 33). Drawing on Halliday (e.g. 1978, 2004: 29), Eggins and Martin (1997: 239) propose three dimensions of a register: (1) field, realised in the text as the ideational metafunction, which is related to the content and technicality of the text; (2) tenor, specifying the role of the participants in the utterance (interpersonal metafunction); and (3) mode, i.e. how the utterance is organised, manifested in the text by textual metafunction (cf. Gruber 2013: 33). Register is an array of options constrained by a genre, which organises it into a “staged, goal-oriented purposeful activity” or “staged, goal-oriented social process” (Martin 1999: 30–32).

The New Rhetoric school originated in North America following works by Miller (1984), Bazerman (1988), Freedman and Medway (1994) and Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995); it integrates insights from classical rhetoric, communication and literary studies (Gruber 2013: 31). Unlike the ESP and SFL approaches, New Rhetoric does not focus on the linguistic aspects of genres. It views genre as a “typified rhetorical action based in recurrent situations” (Miller 1984: 159), i.e. its prime focus is on everyday practices, outside of the textual characteristics of a genre.

While the concept of register has not gained wide recognition in Polish linguistics (Gajda 2013: 28), genre is often associated with style (cf. Witosz 2008[1999], Wojtak 2008[2005]). Polish genology1 and stylistics have often crossed their respective boundaries, even to the extent that one of the most important works in this field, where Gajda (1982) describes academic genres based on the assumptions of genre theory developed by earlier researchers, was called Podstawy badań stylistycznych nad językiem naukowym [Basics of stylistic research on academic language] (Loewe 2008: 6). According to many Polish linguists (e.g. Witosz 2008[2005]: 329, Gajda 2013: 28), genre is part of functional style, i.e. a socially recognisable, internally ←22 | 23→consistent and functionally motivated array of linguistic features; put simply, the functional style is represented by a network of genres.

Polish linguists (e.g. Witosz 2005: 31, Ostaszewska 2008: 20, Wojtak 2008[2005]: 340, 2019: 34–35) generally draw on Bakhtin’s definition of a genre as a relatively stable type of utterance (Bakhtin 1986: 60). Genre in Polish linguistics is a template (wzorzec), a culturally and historically shaped manner of communication framed in social conventions (Ostaszewska 2008: 19, Loewe 2008: 8, Gajda 2008[1993]: 130). It is shaped by mutually conditioned components: structural, pragmatic, cognitive and stylistic (Ostaszewska 2008: 24). This template is normative by assumption, but is often changed and updated in communicative acts, which makes it hybrid and dynamic (Gajda 2008[1993]: 131, Wojtak 2008[2005]: 346, Cap and Okulska 2013: 2). Some genres are more stereotypical and automatised than others (Gajda 2008[1993]: 137). For example, in the scope of administrative varieties, legal acts are considered far more stable and standardised than motions or applications (Wojtak 2008[2005]: 348).

Genres often tend to be grouped in clusters according to one or more variable, such as a function, communicative purpose or the context of use. Such networks of genres are discussed in the literature under various names, e.g. systems of genres (Bazerman 1994: 82), genre chains (Fairclough 2003: 31), constellation of genres (Swales 2004: 12), genre colonies (Bhatia 2004: 57), genre field (pole gatunkowe, Loewe 2008: 11) (cf. Biel 2017a: 152). The clusters may be hierarchical, with a canonical genre in the centre or above other genres, or chronological, where one genre results from another (cf. Loewe 2008: 9–11, Swales 2004: 18). Genre clusters are an important source of information on the interdependency and intertextuality of a genre, contributing to its more comprehensive description.

This overview shows that various approaches to genre coincide in that it is a recognisable, structured, purposeful and interdependent activity realised by means of semiotic systems (cf. Gruber 2013: 38). Genre is often seen as the most productive and practical level of text categorisation due to its informativity (cf. Lee 2002, Witosz 2008[2005]). The analysis of genres has proved to be fruitful in many areas of study, including translation studies (see an overview in Biel 2017a), linguistics (e.g. Witosz 2005, Wojtak 2008[2005]), applied linguistics (e.g. Biber 1988, Swales 1990) or workplace studies (File 2017). The model of genre analysis deployed in this study is discussed in the following section.

1.2. Genre analysis models

This study draws on two genre analysis models used in works by Borja et al. (2009) and Bhatia (2004, 2017). Borja, García Izquierdo and Montalt developed a genre analysis model which embraces the formal, communicative and cognitive dimensions of a genre in order to fully understand the complexities of specialised translation (Borja et al. 2009: 62). The model includes seven components:

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(1) name of the genre in all relevant languages;

(2) list of subgenres (if applicable);

(3) description of communicative situation, including register (field, mode, formality level), participants and function;

(4) formal issues: grammatical and lexical patterns (including contrastive aspect);

Biographical notes

Katarzyna Wasilewska (Author)

Katarzyna Wasilewska completed PhD studies in Linguistics at the University of Warsaw and BA studies in International Economics at the Warsaw School of Economics. Her research interests include corpus linguistics, institutional translation and the language of finance and economy.


Title: Administrative Reports