Marina Bondi is Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy). Her main research interests centre on textual and pragmatic aspects academic genres, the characteristics of argumentative texts and on knowledge dissemination and the impact of digital media on specialized discourse. She is author of English Across Genres. Language Variation in the Discourse of Economics (1999, il Fiorino), co-author of Specialized Communication in English: Analysis and Translation (2020, ETS Pisa) and co-editor of Keyness in Text (2010, John Benjamins) and Academic Discourse Across Disciplines (2006, Peter Lang).
Exploring CSR discourse: patterns and variation
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important component of corporate communication, intended to contribute to improving reputation and trust. The CSR report, in particular, is a key strategic document providing both disclosure of essential data regarding corporate strategies and practices and a general presentation of the organization (mission, vision, governance etc.). Both elements become essential when companies are involved in processes that affect the community conspicuously or when it comes to repairing trust after an accident.
The talk looks at the CSR report from different corpus-informed perspectives, focusing on the close link between attention to pragmatic units and to lexico-grammatical patterns (with their semantics). The first part of the talk considers the complex structure of the CSR report and its variation across cultures; the second part of the talk looks at trust repair issues in a more critical perspective. Starting from an overview of the structure of the genre, the talk illustrates how rhetorical annotation can be used to study patterns and variation in rhetorical moves, and at how lexico-grammatical patterns can contribute to describing the features of textual units at different level. Focusing on issues of trust repair, a case study is presented, where the tools of corpus-assisted discourse analysis are used to explore how issues of social or environmental nature are represented by different fashion companies, looking in particular at the representation of risk (through risk-related phraseology and its lexico-grammatical patterns) and at the communicative strategies employed for trust-repair.
Carmen Pérez-Llantada is Professor of English Linguistics in the Department of English and German Studies at the University of Zaragoza (Spain). Her main research interests include genre analysis, English for Academic Purposes, advanced academic writing, science communication online, and quality in language education. She is the author of Scientific Discourse and the Rhetoric of Globalization. The Impact of Culture and Language (2012, Continuum) and co-editor of English as an Academic and Research Language. Debates and Discourses (2015, de Gruyter) and Science Communication on the Internet (2019, John Benjamins).
Register choice and patterns of interaction across text varieties
In the context of Open Science and of the “democratization of science” agenda for reaching broader publics (Bonney et al., 2009; Fecher & Friesike, 2014), scholars are increasingly encouraged to produce new kinds of writing online that target a non-specialist/lay readership. This is the case of research blogging and microblogging on Twitter, Facebook or WeChat, and the case of crowdfunding science and citizen science writing practices in web portals. The specific goal of these latter practices is to engage this broader readership in scientific enquiry (Reid, 2019). These new writing demands pose important challenges to scholars, who need to compose effectively unfamiliar text varieties online. Here, the perspective of register becomes germane, firstly, to provide a thorough treatment of the language features of these texts and, secondly, to empirically inform EAP writing pedagogy.
This presentation investigates the language used in two interrelated (hyperlinked) text varieties written by the same scholar and reporting on the same topic, a journal article and its associated citizen science project online. While the journal article falls under the category of professional genres for scientific communication, the citizen science project, a multimodal parascientific genre online, belongs to the category of emerging public genres for science communication. Following Biber and Conrad (2019), I will specifically describe the discourse functionality of two core linguistic features, pronouns and verbs, and illustrate how both build different patterns of writer/readership interaction because each text variety has distinct communicative goals and situational context. In the light of the findings, I will critically assess how they differ linguistically and what rhetorical exigences account for the differences observed in the way the scholar establishes bidirectional communication in each text variety.
The final section of my talk will address several pedagogic implications that ensue from the preferred register choice and patterns of interaction online and will propose some ways for guiding and supporting scholars in unfamiliar writing territories.
Biber, D. and S. Conrad (2019). Register, Genre and Style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bonney, R., Cooper, C. B., Dickinson, J., Kelling, S., Phillips, T., Rosenberg, K. V. and Shirk, J. (2009). Citizen science: A developing tool for expanding science knowledge and scientific literacy. BioScience, 59(11), 977–984.
Fecher, B. and Friesike, S. (2014). Open science: One term, five schools of thought. In S. Bartling and S. Friesike, eds., Opening Science. Cham: Springer, pp.17–47.
Reid, G. (2019). Compressing, expanding, and attending to scientific meaning: Writing the semiotic hybrid of science for professional and citizen scientists. Written Communication, 36(1), 68–98.
Jarmila Tárnyiková is Professor Emeritus of English Linguistics at Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic). Her research interests include morphology, syntax, text linguistics, pedagogic grammar, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, typological comparison of English and Czech, the language of literary text. She is author of Chapters from Modern English Syntax I & II (1985, 1995, Olomouc), From Text to Texture: An Introduction to Processing Strategies (2002, Olomouc) and Sentence Complexes in Text. Processing strategies in English and in Czech (2007, Olomouc).
The multifaceted and whimsical nature of discourse
My talk, rooted in functional and systemic grammar, is based on the assumption that though discourse as a social behaviour and verbal interaction has been studied by great minds for centuries, the dynamism of human evolution and the consequent changes in communicative strategies can hardly leave discourse analyst immune to a whole spectrum of present-day challenges. These are evoked by changes in the scope of items considered to be relevant for present-day research , by blurring the traditional borderlines between categories (written manifestation of spoken discourse in chatting), but before all by the existence of language corpora, offering the immensity of data across genres, language varieties and language interfaces. In order to benefit from the data and transform the quantity into a new quality, the researcher has to be qualified to provide a context-sensitive interpretation of the data and seek to discover patterns that create and reflect coherence.
The talk is divided into three parts. First, keywords from discourse analysis will be briefly surveyed to create a common framework of reference; second, the reasons for multifaceted nature of discourse will be discussed, and third, the whimsical nature of discourse will be illustrated by overt language manifestation of vagueness, associated with a whole spectrum of strategies contributing to intentional smoke-screening. Data from the BNC and COCA corpora will be used to trace structural patterning and communicative roles of vague reference to notional categories (a book or whatnot), vague reference to quantity (mountains of litter), and the use of vague placeholders (Ms. Thingy, John Whatsisname).