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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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VII. Specialized Discourse in The Philosophical Transactions - 141


VII. Specialized Discourse in The Philosophical Transactions The developments of specialized news discourse in the Early Modern English period were consequential to the great epistemological and methodological innovations which took place in 17th and 18th century England. Indeed, these innovations determined the need to socialize the discoveries made and the new ideas developed, also thanks to a collaborative spirit which inspired 17th and 18th century scientists, in contrast to the individualism that characterized philosophers in the Renaissance period. The development of the sciences was now seen as a result of public discussion and knowledge sharing, in the conviction that “In Assemblies, the Wits of most men are sharper, their apprehen- sions readier, their thoughts fuller, than in their closets” (Sprat 1667: 98). The aim of this chapter is to illustrate the different methods that the specialized discourse community of the times used to spread the news about the many activities then taking place and the discoveries being made by the members of this community. In particular, the chapter focuses on the various forms employed by the contributors to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London to pro- pagate new information regarding specialized facts or events among the wide and varied readership of this journal. It will be shown that the communicative role of such authors was not limited merely to the fulfilment of goals linked to socialization and solidarity, but also in- cluded the reform of existing means of discourse and the development of new ones. Indeed, the...

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