Stance devices in tourism-related research articles: A corpus-based study

by Francisco J. Álvarez-Gil (Author)
©2022 Monographs 170 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 292


This volume aims to showcase research as to the study of perspectivization in English language academic articles in the field of tourism. A key aspect of this study is the way in which writers elaborate and organize information following their editorial traditions. Interestingly, complete scientific articles in the field have not received much scholarly attention. A first task, therefore, that this book undertakes is the characterization of the article in terms of unctional stages, according to a framework of functional linguistics. The methodology also involves the use of corpus linguistics tools to analyze linguistic stance devices and to draw data for their illustration. These linguistic stance strategies are examined by genre stage to highlight possible variation in these stages. The results of this research hopefully would impact on the study of specialized English for tourism and on the design of new teaching materials.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • List of abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Stance
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 The notion of stance
  • 2.3 Stance devices
  • 2.3.1 Tense
  • 2.3.2 Modal verbs
  • 2.3.3 Adverbs: Intensifiers
  • 2.3.4 Passives
  • 2.3.5 Conditionals
  • 2.3.6 That-complement clauses
  • 2.4 Summary
  • 3 The research article in tourism-related studies
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Genres and the research article
  • 3.3 The form and linguistic characterization of the RA in the field of tourism
  • 3.3.1 Methodology and corpus
  • 3.3.2 Genre stages in tourism-related RAs
  • 3.3.3 Frequent language templates per genre stage
  • 3.3.4 Lexical density
  • 3.3.5 Syntactic complexity
  • 3.4 Conclusion
  • 4 Perspectivizing language in tourism-related research articles
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Tenses
  • 4.3 Modals
  • 4.4 Boosters and downtoners
  • 4.5 Passives
  • 4.6 Conditionals
  • 4.7 That-complement clauses
  • 4.8 Conclusions
  • 5 Conclusion
  • 5.1 Limitations of research
  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • References
  • Appendix: Corpus references

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1 Introduction

The study presented here is the natural evolution of my research on tourism-related research articles and other genres (Álvarez-Gil and Domínguez Morales 2018; Álvarez-Gil, Payet and Sánchez Hernández 2020; Álvarez-Gil and Domínguez Morales 2021). Despite the interest in tourism discourse in recent decades, the research article (RA) in its full form has not been the subject of extensive discursive and pragmatic research in this field. In fact, RAs on tourism as a genre have not been characterized at all (cf. Lin and Evans 2012), and this has somewhat hindered their inclusion in broader projects dealing with disciplinary discourses. However, academic research has focused on specific sections of the RA in tourism and on other genres in this domain, namely abstracts (Ahmed 2015), brochures and pamphlets (Hiippala 2015), and promotional literature (Ruffolo 2015).

The value of empirical research evidence for the tourism industry makes the study of these RAs relevant for linguistic inquiry. Much of the investigation carried out and presented as a RA concludes with a set of practical recommendations that the tourism industry and the governmental tourism offices might take into consideration to improve the situation. Lending this information in a way that sounds authoritative while protecting authors’ face wants requires a great deal of rhetorical expertise. Indeed, the shift from an epistemic to effective modality to express advice and necessity implies a careful selection of language devices that are semiotically relevant for the discourse community to which these texts are addressed. In this context, an analysis of the stance-taking devices deployed in these texts seems in order. It should not be overlooked that while the primary audience of tourism RAs is scholars in the field, the presentation of practical research outcomes may suggest a wider audience, including tourist market specialists. This necessarily imposes some discourse constraints or requirements.←11 | 12→

Surprisingly, as noted earlier, a description of the rhetorical organization of tourism RAs has not been undertaken despite the educational benefits this may bring for tourism students and non-linguistic professionals. Earlier literature (e.g., Lin and Evans 2012) comments on the apparent fuzziness of this RA structure, to the extent that it is difficult to identify major structural sequences. Based on my inspection of a corpus of RAs in the field, I argue in this volume that genre stages in these RAs present an identifiable rhetorical pattern, which may fit the traditional introduction, method, results, and discussion (IMRD) model to some extent.

As I shall explain later in this volume, the RA in the field of tourism shows some register specificities that may render methodological passages more narrative than expositive. Narration seems to play a prominent role, both to depict the research setting and to offer justificatory grounding. In this sense, language comes to evince perspectives in the elaboration and disambiguation of meaning, which, I hypothesize, represent different research momentums. These impetuses unfold linguistically differently in each RA stage to build both content and attitudinal meaning, thus reflecting the authors’ stance.

A revision of the literature on stance in academic writing unveils some language devices with an indexical function. Among these studies, Chen (2009), Wang and Tu (2014), Ferdinandus (2016), and Okuyama (2020) focus on tense in different academic genres to show the way in which authors deploy this grammatical device to convey some degree of involvement in the description of the research conducted. Somehow connected to tense, the use of the passive voice in academic writing has been a matter of discussion, as the work of Ruelas Inzunza (2020) evinces. This device is frequently considered as an impersonalizing strategy to avoid accountability (cf. Rundblad 2007).

Modal verbs, especially core modals (Denison 1993), have a scope over the proposition to modulate and fine-tune the authorial perspective to meet certain communicative and pragmatic functions, as shown in Carrió Pastor (2012) and Naht et al. (2020). Modals may help mitigate, or otherwise strengthen, the propositional illocutionary force (Alonso-Almeida and Álvarez-Gil 2019, Álvarez-Gil 2021). These same functions also apply to the use of intensifiers in academic writing (cf. Pick and Furmaniak 2012).←12 | 13→

Conditionals, as pointed out in Cacchiani (2018), serve the purpose of revealing authors’ own logical thinking in the development and elaboration of meaning in a RA, as I shall show below. This argues for the evaluative dimension of these structures in the creation of new information. Likewise, that-complement clauses have been found to clearly show authors’ evaluation of the event or phenomenon being described, as noted in Hyland and Tse (2005a, 2005b), Godnič Vičič (2015), and Kozáčiková (2021).

That said, my main objective in this volume is to evaluate the presence and function of these perspectivizing language devices in a compilation of RAs in the register of tourism. Thus, this study follows a research method based on corpus linguistics. As complex searches must be undertaken, corpus query language (CQL) is used to tailor the corpus inquiry to my needs. For this reason, the corpus is conveniently tagged for parts of speech (POS). Corpus tools will allow for the retrieval of n-gram samples as well as collocates and concordances. Statistical significance will be also assessed with the data obtained from the interrogation of the corpus. Other research objectives that need to be accomplished in order to fulfil my primary one concern the identification and description of the rhetorical organization of the RAs. This is especially relevant for detecting the statistical significance of these devices per genre stage.

This study aims, therefore, to answer the research questions below:

1.How is authorial stance exhibited in academic RAs in the domain of tourism?

2.Due to the relevance of RA rhetorical organization for this study, what macrostructure is revealed by the RAs in my compilation?

3.What are the forms and distributions of the stance-taking devices reviewed in this study?


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (July)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 170 pp., 4 fig. b/w, 24 tables.

Biographical notes

Francisco J. Álvarez-Gil (Author)

Francisco J. Álvarez-Gil is an associate professor of English philology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, and a member of the research group Discourse, Communication & Society (DiCoS). His research focusses on discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and language pedagogy at the tertiary level.


Title: Stance devices in tourism-related research articles: A corpus-based study