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The Pragmatics of Academic Writing

A Relevance Approach to the Analysis of Research Article Introductions

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Nicola Owtram

This volume investigates to what extent existing approaches to pragmatics and discourse shed light on how the form of a text creates stylistic effects. Taking a cross-cultural perspective, this book focuses on five key stylistic features of writing – paragraph structure, length and construction of sentences, organisation of information in sentences, relative formality of vocabulary, amount of nominalisation – widely seen as partly responsible for the different impressions created by academic writing in English and Italian. The author develops a theoretical framework for the investigation of intuitions about stylistic differences from a contrastive point of view. To this end, the book gives an overview of recent scholarly approaches to writing and reading, genre studies, contrastive rhetoric and the notions of style and stylistics, together with an assessment of several individual approaches.

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3. Style Manuals: What Can They Tell Us? 55

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3. Style Manuals: What Can They Tell Us? 3.1. Introduction In Chapter Two, I looked at some of the approaches that can usefully inform the work in this study. In this chapter, I will examine several English and Italian style and writing manuals to see how they treat the five topics that I have singled out for treatment. In addition, I will look at three interesting approaches to the notion of conventions, again to see what light they can shed on the role of manuals. I will start by considering how these manuals treat the notion of style. 3.2. Style as it is Described in the Manuals I have chosen eight widely used manuals. Of these, some are pure reference manuals (e.g. MLA Style and Guide to Scholarly Publish- ing), while others set out to actually teach the writer how to make informed choices in the writing process (e.g. Come si scrive). These manuals are, in a sense, the natural ‘voice’ of the academic world in matters of writing, providing models for novice writers, both non- native and native. We can therefore think of them as encapsulating mainstream conventional ‘knowledge’ about what writers should and should not do, and it will be interesting to see whether they throw any light on why a writer of English or Italian texts should be encouraged to write about ideas in the way that my interviewees have identified as typical. Let us start with the English selection.1 The first is Effective 1 Both British...

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