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Academic Discourse Across Disciplines

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Ken Hyland and Marina Bondi

This volume reflects the emerging interest in cross-disciplinary variation in both spoken and written academic English, exploring the conventions and modes of persuasion characteristic of different disciplines and which help define academic inquiry. This collection brings together chapters by applied linguists and EAP practitioners from seven different countries. The authors draw on various specialised spoken and written corpora to illustrate the notion of variation and to explore the concept of discipline and the different methodologies they use to investigate these corpora. The book also seeks to make explicit the valuable links that can be made between research into academic speech and writing as text, as process, and as social practice.

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KEN HYLAND / MARINA BONDI - Introduction 7

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KEN HYLAND / MARINA BONDI Introduction Interest in the ways that language use varies across different disciplinary communities has developed only recently in applied linguistics research. The emergence of genre studies in the 1980s, together with the pedagogic imperatives of a growing EAP movement, tended to ensure that attention focused principally on describing what was similar about texts rather than what was not. Analyses concentrated on identifying distinctive features of an academic register, highlighting the forms which constructed impersonality, formality and precision in order to teach patterns that would be transferable across contexts and purposes. This is what Bloor and Bloor (1986) call the common core hypothesis, the idea that “many of the features of English are found in all, or nearly all, varieties” (Leech / Svartvik 1994). Such a view, however, contributed to a misrepresentation of academic literacy as a naturalised, self-evident and non-contestable way of participating in academic communities and encouraged the idea that there is one general ‘academic English’ (Hyland 2002). Gradually, however, comparative studies began to show that scholarly discourse is not a single uniform and monolithic entity, differentiated merely by specialist topics and vocabularies. Instead, it has come to be regarded as an outcome of a multitude of practices and strategies, where argument and engagement are crafted within communities that have different ideas about what is worth communicating, how it can be communicated, what readers are likely to know, how they might be persuaded, and so on. What this research is beginning to tells us...

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