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Mapping Academic Values in the Disciplines

A Corpus-Based Approach


Davide Simone Giannoni

A broad strand of applied linguistic research has focused on the language of science and scholarship, stressing its role in the construction and negotiation of knowledge claims. Central to the success of such texts is the use of evaluative expressions encoding what is considered to be desirable or undesirable in a given domain. While the speech acts relevant to evaluation have been extensively researched, little is known of the underlying values they encode. This volume seeks to fill the gap by exploring the main facets of academic value in a corpus of research articles from leading journals in anthropology, biology, computer science, economics, engineering, history, mathematics, medicine, physics and sociology. The collocations and qualified entities associated with such variables in the corpus provide insights into how scholars draw on a repertoire of conventional, largely unqualified, axiological meanings instrumental to the production of new knowledge in their field.


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5. Goodness markers 89


89 5. Goodness markers For the purposes of this chapter, goodness is defined as a value that points to qualities that are viewed as positive (or, conversely, as negative) without need to further specify their nature. Vagueness is thus co-integral to the construction of a value which, also in academic discourse, allows the writer to commend or condemn a given referent in very general terms, while placing on the reader the onus to locate whatever led to something being judged as good or bad. As this is the broadest category identified in the corpus, it is perhaps not surprising that it counts the highest number of candidate items among the four values selected for investigation. Whatever the context, successful communication depends on the interlocutors’ ability to find a common ground made of shared meanings that include an essential distinction between good and bad. The axiological structure of this dyad embraces different subvalues, since the ‘goodness’ of something may pertain to such aspects as its source, appearance, rationality or morality. Anything that diminishes or undermines this quality is perceived, by contrast, as ‘bad’. At the same time, the underspecifica- tion inherent in the concept of goodness means that it allows for a range of lexicalisations well beyond those found at the top of the global wordlist WL. 5.1. Identification of value-marker status Every occurrence of the candidate items listed in Table 2 of the previous chapter (well, positive, right, good, negative, problem, error, best, better, problems, poor) had to be manually...

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