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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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V. The Development of Specialized Discoursein the 17th Century - 107

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V. The Development of Specialized Discourse in the 17th Century The increasing need to use the English language for the expression of specialized texts caused a heated debate in 17th-century England, as the adoption of other languages (Latin, in particular) was felt to be no longer suitable for this purpose. The great epistemological and methodological developments taking place in that period (cf. Taavitsainen 2001) determined the need for corresponding changes both in the ways of communicating the new discoveries attained by means of innovative procedures and apparatus, and in the expressive tool to be used to describe and argue about the new phenomena observed and analysed. The criticism of the methods traditionally adopted in the study of the sciences and the development of a new scientific system implied a change not only in the approach to the observation and interpretation of the laws of nature, but also in the way in which phenomena ought to be described and opinions expressed. Criticism was made both of how language was employed in the various pro- cesses of scientific research and, in particular, of the suitability of the tool itself for an accurate, precise expression of the concepts reported. Some critics maintained that an accurate interpretation and description of the complex phenomena of our universe required the adoption of a new language, based on innovative principles and using tools specifi- cally devised for the purpose. Galileo, for example, pointed out the need for a novel specialized language, quite different from ordinary speech and...

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