Università di Bergamo > Cerlis > English Version > Projects > Identity and Culture in English Domain-Specific Discourse

Unit I - BERGAMO

 

GOTTI Maurizio

 

For an in-depth analysis of variation in intercultural communication, the Bergamo Research Unit considers a variety of texts produced by scholars and academic institutions in various parts of the world, in order to identify textual variants due to the use of English as: first language, second language, or lingua franca within the scientific community.

More specifically, it concentrates on the following aspects:

a) genre and macrostructure, with their resulting lexico-grammatical realisations;

b) speech acts expressing positive/negative evaluation, both exophoric and metatextual;

c) the pragmatic, interpersonal plane of discourse (stance, hedging, politeness);

d) evidence of popularisation and/or promotional discourse;

e) the function of verbal and lexical modality;

f) the degree of background knowledge required (content schemata);

g) the correlation with such authorial variables as gender and academic standing.

Parallel texts produced by Italian scholars and universities are used to assess the reliability of results. Insights from the analysis (including contrastive evidence) are meant to provide suggestions for LSP pedagogy (Hewings & Dudley-Evans 1996; Johns 1997; Bool & Luford 1999; Hewings 2001), especially where English is taught as a lingua franca of academia.

The investigation is carried out on corpora formed by English - and in part by Italian - texts for academic communication. These have been classified and described according to their respective genre:

- primary genres (monographs, articles from edited volumes, research articles and reviews published in journals);

- educational genres (course descriptions, student guidelines);

- (semi) private genres (letters/email messages from colleagues and other researchers).

The approach is not limited, however, to linguistic evidence but is integrated - if possible – by information gathered directly from the interactants. This is done in constant consultation with the other Italian research units and with foreign scholars working in the aforesaid domains. Such international links allow the findings of the research unit to be presented and circulated on a wider, highly-qualified international scale.