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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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7. Novelty markers 147


147 7. Novelty markers The third most frequent group of candidate items identified in Chapter 4 encoded were related to an axiological variable that may be labelled as ‘novelty’. This time-bounded value qualifies a given referent as more or less desirable due to some unprecedented feature viewed as a (potential) improvement on previous referents within the same category. The concept of novelty expresses both continuity and discontinuity with the past and as such is an attribute that can be placed on a cline. Generally speaking, lack of innovation at one end of the cline (maximum continuity, zero discontinuity) is perceived as counterproductive, but the same can be said of the opposite end (minimum continuity, maximum discontinuity), which may too radical a departure from the established order. Finding the right balance between these two extremes is especially important in academic writing when authors and readers negotiate value judgements associated with novelty. Novelty is linked to the condition of being new – which for the OED (2009) primarily denotes something “not previously existing; now made or brought into existence for the first time” or “of a kind now first invented or introduced; novel, newfangled; original”. The lexicographer’s definition is useful insofar as it makes explicit the co- existence of positive (novel, original) and negative (newfangled) connotations in the same qualifier. As mentioned above, novelty is not always equally desirable and its lexical realisations in each discipline are likely to vary in prominence according to the saliency given to this value when interpreting scientific...

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