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The Rhetoric of the Abstract in English and Spanish Scientific Discourse

A Cross-Cultural Genre-Analytic Approach

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Pedro Martin-Martin

Scientific discourse is increasingly internationalised, as a result of the great influence that the discourse conventions of the international English-speaking academic community exert on scientific communication worldwide. Contrastive rhetoric studies, however, have shown that the particular configuration of different discourse communities may have an influence on the construction of genres. This book explores rhetorical preferences in the research article abstract genre. The main focus of the study is an investigation of the extent to which there is cross-linguistic variation in terms of the rhetorical strategies used by writers in abstracts to foreground their main knowledge claims and present themselves as qualified discourse community members. From a quantitative and qualitative perspective, the author compares the rhetorical structure and other socio-pragmatic features of abstracts written in English for international scientific journals with those written in Spanish for Spanish journals in the experimental social sciences, and more specifically in the disciplines of phonetics and psychology. In the interpretation of results, the author mainly draws on socio-cultural and contextual factors to account for cross-cultural rhetorical variation.
Contents: Scientific/academic discourse, the research article abstract, the contrastive rhetoric paradigm – The concepts of ‘discourse community’ and ‘genre’ – The rhetorical structure of abstracts – The concept of ‘move’ as a unit of analysis – The socio-pragmatic strategy of hedging – A taxonomy of hedging devices – Personal attribution in academic discourse – Semantic references and discourse functions of first person pronouns – The rhetorical management of academic criticism – A taxonomy of rhetorical strategies to convey critical speech acts – The politics of abstract writing.