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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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IX. The Language of Popularisation - 179

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IX. The Language of Popularisation The notion of popularisation has attracted several studies, although their conclusions are not always in agreement.1 There is a basic con- sensus, however, as to the role of this process, which is usually identified with the conveyance of specialist knowledge for education or information purposes. The main factor that distinguishes a populari- sation from a fully specialized text is the lack of discussion, in the former, of new scientific knowledge added to the discipline’s concep- tual base. The mere lack of innovative theoretical arguments is not sufficient evidence, however, of a popularisation process. Some genres provide no advancement of disciplinary knowledge and yet constitute instances of specialized communication: among these are the review article, the abstract and other genres whose function is mainly informative or comparative of different methodological ap- proaches or research projects. The main criterion for distinguishing between fully specialized texts and popularisations is the different audience targeted. Popularisation in fact addresses not an expert group within the discipline but an audience of non-specialists. This aspect, however, requires further explanation, for unless it is associated with other criteria, the listing of different audiences may be insufficient to formally characterize the text types involved. A satisfactory profile of textual differences is possible if we consider not only the audience’s competence but also the main pur- pose of such texts. Publications written primarily for non-specialists operate at no fewer than two different levels: pedagogic texts and popularisations. The former aim to provide students with the...

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