Third Revised Edition
I. Defining the Notion of ‘Specialized Discourse’ -9
I. Defining the Notion of ‘Specialized Discourse’ Interest in specialized discourse dates back to the early decades of linguistic investigation.1 In the 1920s-1930s, scholars belonging to the Prague school turned their attention to the so-called ‘functional style’ which characterises scientific and technical discourse (cf. Fried 1972). At first, their approach was conservative, since it tended to classify such discourse at a lower level, totally separate from the language of everyday use. Scholars sought above all to produce clear-cut defini- tions of the differences between specialized and general discourse: Differences between current English and technical English can be found at all linguistic levels and they manifest themselves in a different way both qualita- tively and quantitatively. (Bares 1972:129) Yet the specific features of word morphology (foreign words retaining their original plural suffix, obsolete forms of verbs and adjectives) and formation (the use of typically classical prefixes, certain types of nominal premodification) pointed out in those studies are not limited to scientific or technical discourse, though they certainly occur more frequently and regularly in such varieties. Research into the concept of ‘register’ published after the Second World War attempted to identify the morphosyntactic, lexical and stylistic features that characterise specialized discourse. Studies on register analysis were part of a wider enquiry into language varie- ties – an enquiry inspired by a new perspective on linguistic phenome- na. The transition from an uncontextualised view of language, typical of the Chomskyan tradition, to its perception as a highly flexible means of communication employed in...
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