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Academic Vocabulary in Context


David Hirsh

Academic texts present subject-specific ideas within a subject-independent framework. This book accounts for the presence of academic words in academic writing by exploring recurring patterns of function in texts representing different subject areas. The book presents a framework which describes academic word use at the ideational, textual and interpersonal levels. Functional categories are presented and illustrated which explain the role of academic words alongside general purpose and technical terms. The author examines biomedical research articles, and journal articles from arts, commerce and law. A comparable analysis focuses on university textbook chapters. Case studies investigate patterns of functionality within the main sections of research articles, compare word use in academic and non-academic texts reporting on the same research, and explore the carrier word function of academic vocabulary. The study concludes by looking at historical and contemporary processes which have shaped the presence of academic vocabulary in the English lexicon.


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9. Comparison of journal and newspaper texts 141


9. Comparison of journal and newspaper texts The purpose of this chapter is to gain insights into similarities and differences between a research article and a newspaper article in terms of the appearance and function of academic vocabulary and the overall function of each text. The classification system presented in Chapter 4 is applied to two new texts, a research article representing academic writing (Curr- Bio) and a newspaper article representing writing for a general readership (Wash-Post). The two texts share a common subject area, in that Wash-Post reports on and discusses the findings of Curr-Bio. Curr-Bio, titled ‘Molecular evolution of Pediculus humanus and the origin of clothing’ (Kittler et al. 2003), appeared in Current Biology, a scholarly journal, in August 2003. Wash-Post, titled ‘Creative search for naked truth: study uses lice DNA to find when clothing first appeared’ (Weiss 2003), appeared in the Washington Post newspaper on 19 August 2003. The two texts discuss the findings of a study which seeks to de- termine at what stage in human evolution humans began wearing clothes, and thus determine if this corresponded with the movement of humans from Africa to the cooler regions of Europe and whether or not early humans living in Europe were hairy or comparatively hairless. The answers to these questions, we are told in both texts, cannot be discovered from examination of archaeological evidence. A lexical profile of each text is provided indicating the statisti- cal involvement of academic words. A functional classification of the academic word...

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