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Investigating Specialized Discourse

Third Revised Edition

Maurizio Gotti

Investigating Specialized Discourse is a shortened and revised textbook edition of the monograph Specialized Discourse (2003). This book analyses the various features of specialized discourse in order to assess its degree of specificity and diversification, as compared to general language. Prior to any analysis of such traits, the notion of specialized discourse and its distinctive properties are clarified. The presence of such properties is accounted for not only in linguistic but also in pragmatic terms since the approach is interpretative rather than merely descriptive. Indeed, the complexity of this discourse calls for a multidimensional analysis, covering both lexis and morpho-syntax as well as textual patterning. Some lexical aspects, morpho-syntactic features and textual genres are also examined from a diachronic perspective, thus showing how various conventions concerning specialized discourse have developed over the last centuries.


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III. Syntactic Features of Specialized Discourse - 49


III. Syntactic Features of Specialized Discourse Scholars investigating specialized languages have often argued that these are equipped with unique syntactic patterns which do not occur in general language. Charrow (1982: 82) claims that legal discourse follows specific syntactic rules: It also differs significantly from normal usage. It is more than a professional jargon, as it contains its own peculiar syntactic constructions. The syntactic forms mentioned in such studies, however, do not contain any rules not found in general language. This impression is based on the inspection of various studies on the syntactic features of specialized discourse focusing on phenomena that are not unknown also in general language. The most likely conclusion is that the speci- ficity of morphosyntactic phenomena found in specialized languages is not a qualitative but a quantitative one. Certain features may also occur in general language but their higher frequency in specialized discourse makes them typical only of the latter. This chapter targets the main syntactic features displayed by specialized texts. It investi- gates not only their originality and frequency but also attempts to account for the pragmatic motives that originate them. 1. Omission of phrasal elements A prominent distinctive feature of specialized discourse is its extreme- ly compact syntactic structure. This is not surprising but indeed con- firms the principle of conciseness discussed earlier in relation to the development of specialized lexis (cf. Chapter 2). A very common, straightforward way to make the sentence more concise is to omit one Syntactic Features of Specialized Discourse 50...

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