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Academic Discourse – New Insights into Evaluation

Series:

Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotti and Elena Tognini Bonelli

This volume assembles a selection of papers presented at an international conference held in Pontignano, Siena, (14-16 June 2003). It discusses the concept of evaluation in academic discourse and the methodological tools most apt to investigate it. All contributions focus on a crucial dimension of academic communication: the epistemic and attitudinal assessment of content and the argumentative and metadiscourse devices used to interact with audiences of scholars or novices. The assembled contributions deal with theoretical and methodological issues including diverse academic genres ranging from written and oral texts. A report of the discussion on evaluation in academic texts concludes the volume.

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BELINDA CRAWFORD CAMICIOTTOLI (FLORENCE): Audience-Oriented Relevance Markers in Business Studies Lectures 81

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BELINDA CRAWFORD CAMICIOTTOLI Audience-oriented relevance markers in business studies lectures 1. Background In recent years there has been heightened interest in the interactional dimension of language. A key feature of interaction is evaluation, or how writers and speakers intervene in their propositions to convey opinions and attitudes. To do so, they use a wide array of linguistic, paralinguistic and extra-linguistic devices. Thus, we are dealing with a complex, protean and seemingly omnipresent phenomenon. Scholars investigating evaluation have formulated well-articulated conceptual, analytical and interpretive models to explain the semantic and func- tional aspects of evaluation, and the underlying value systems govern- ing its use (Thompson / Hunston 2000, Hyland 1999a, Conrad / Biber, 2000). Thanks to these seminal studies, we now have a better under- standing of this crucial element of communication, as well as a point of departure for further research. Evaluation has been shown to have a prominent role in academic discourse. According to Hyland (1999a: 100) “academic discourse is embedded in the wider process of argument, affiliation and consensus- making of discourse community members.” From this social construc- tionist perspective, evaluation becomes a powerful rhetorical tool in expert-to-expert communication (e.g. research articles), but the same holds true for more strictly pedagogical genres. In expert-to-novice communication (e.g. textbooks), evaluation may be used to influence readers’ interpretation of content (Hyland 1999b). For example, when textbook writers stress the relevance of certain propositions, they are actually evaluating the discourse itself. However, this form of implicit evaluation carries out a key function:...

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