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Academic Discourse Across Disciplines

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Edited By 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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Variation in Written Argument and Reasoning

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MARINA BONDI ‘A case in point’: Signals of Narrative Development in Business and Economics 1. Introduction The background to this study is to be found in the difficulty of identifying a discipline as such (cf. Mauranen this volume). Where does the specificity of a discipline lie? An answer to this daunting question is well beyond the scope of this paper. If an area of study like linguistics is defined pre-eminently by its object (language), other areas are defined more by their methodology: history for instance can be seen as characterized by a focus on the chronological development of events and relations. It will be immediately apparent that any discipline can be defined from different points of view and at different degrees of delicacy. Rather than looking for an abstract classification of knowledge, therefore, the working definition adopted here is related to current social practice in the organization of academic studies (Becher 1989). Even thus, disciplinary divides are difficult to perceive and may indeed vary according to point of view. Insiders and outsiders of a disciplinary field often have different views of the limits of the discipline itself. Similarly, the field itself will be mapped in different ways according to the preferred theories or methodologies. EAP studies are intrinsically applied and their interest lies in the way academic and professional communities define their areas and their conventions. If there is wide agreement on the possibility to identify differences across major divides – such as the ‘soft’ vs. ‘hard’ disciplines distinction – there is...

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