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Academic Identity Traits

A Corpus-Based Investigation


Edited By Maurizio Gotti

This volume investigates identity traits in academic discourse. Its main purpose is to better understand how and to what extent language forms and functions are adapting to the globalisation of academic discourse. Key factors of verbal behaviour such as the affiliation of actors to one or more cultures have been found to interact, producing transversal identities that are independent of local traits, with a tendency to merge and hybridise in an intercultural sense. The volume consists of three main parts: The first deals with identity traits across languages and cultures, as the use of a given language affects the writing of a scholar, especially when it is not his/her native language. The second comprises investigations of identity features characterising specific disciplinary communities or marking a differentiation from other branches of knowledge. The third part of the volume deals with identity aspects emerging from genre and gender variation.


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MAURIZIO GOTTI 1. Variation in Academic Texts 23


MAURIZIO GOTTI 1. Variation in Academic Texts Far from being a single, monolithic dimension of discourse, the expression of academic identity has become increasingly fluid and negotiable (Wright 2000; Pavlenko/Blackledge 2003). Swales (1998), for instance, has shown how discursive differentiations may operate even across three floors of the same university building and there is ample evidence (e.g. Crammond 1998; Hyland 2000) that academic writing is not a uniform body of discourse but varies according to disciplinary conventions, cultural expectations and writers’ profes- sional status and experience. Several textual features have been investigated as markers of authorial presence and stance, such as the use of first-person and indefinite pronouns, realisations of epistemic modality, argumentative connectives, negative and concessive con- structions, specific lexemes and metatextual expressions. Although different academic discourses favour specific generic characteristics (Swales 1990; Bhatia 1993), they also allow writers a certain degree of flexibility. At the same time, genres themselves are not stable but highly dynamic and tightly related to their socio-professional contexts (Bhatia 2004; Swales 2004a; Bhatia/Gotti 2006). 1. Globalising trends in the academic field In recent years, the weakening of cultural, disciplinary and national barriers, especially in the context of co-operation and collaboration at an international level, has accelerated moves towards the globalisation of socio-cultural and communicative practices. This process offers a topical illustration of the interaction between linguistic and cultural 24 Maurizio Gotti factors in the construction of discourse, both within specialised domains and in wider contexts (Candlin/Gotti 2004, 2007). But as language is strictly linked...

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