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Conference papers

Cognitive packing and rhetorical packaging in English science writing: a comparative analysis of alternating pre-modified versus post-modified nominals

Abstract : In this paper, we examine the role of lexical patterns and grammatical variation in the packing, unpacking and re-packing of technical terms in English specialized and non-specialised writing. In particular, we examine the alternation between pre-modified and post-modified nominals as they occur in running texts, as in: OP: What is the aspirin synthesis mechanism? Essentially i'm looking for a proper curly arrow type mechanism for the synthesis of aspirin from salicylic acid (2-hydroxybenzoic acid) and ethanoic anhydride. ROSY: Curiosity strikes... what *do* you want a mechanism for asprin synthesis for, then?? (, accessed,11 07 2015) As discussed in the literature (e.g. Ormrod 2003), the relative well-formedness and interpretability of such examples is dependent on rhetorical function (given / new status, degree of contrast / focus) as well as phraseology (whether the sequence is packaged as a lexicalised term or reformulated in a longer discourse structure). In this paper, we use corpus-based analysis to examine how a sample of terminological variations are deployed across three different registers and genres (scientific research articles, popular science, online blogs). We are particularly interested in cases where usage is problematic (notably in a corpus of non-native student translations into English, as well as the online database ARTES, in which where trainee terminologists are asked to decide whether a given sequence of words is a ‘multiword term’ or a ‘collocation’). This study therefore attempts to answer a series of research questions: 1) are there systematic differences between different text types regarding the preferred direction of variation (packed > unpacked, unpacked >packed)? Do leaner errors and hesitations show where the fault-lines of English lexico-grammar lie in respect to pre-and post- modification of nominals in technical English? In what way does the grammatical variation of technical terminology contribute to the cognitive and rhetorical construction of science writing?
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 10:25:55 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 8:56:03 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01232748, version 1


Christopher Gledhill, Mojca Pecman. Cognitive packing and rhetorical packaging in English science writing: a comparative analysis of alternating pre-modified versus post-modified nominals. Colloque International de Linguistique GReG PLS IV ; "Marqueurs et structures, quelles articulations dans la (re)construction du sens ?", Groupe G.RE.G. EA CREA 370
et UMR 7114 MoDyCo, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nov 2015, Paris, France. ⟨hal-01232748⟩



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