Tracking changes in rhetorical persuasion
Published academic writing often seems to be an unchanging form of discourse with its frozen informality remaining stable over time. Recent work has shown, however, that these texts are highly interactive and dialogic as writers anticipate and take into account readers’ likely objections, background knowledge, rhetorical expectations and processing needs. In this paper, we explore one aspect of these interactions and how it has changed over the past fifty years. Focusing on what has been called interactive metadiscourse (Hyland 2005; Hyland and Tse 2004), or the ways authors organise their material for particular readers, we analyze a corpus of 2.2 million words compiled from articles in the top journals in four disciplines to discover whether, and to what extent, interactive metadiscourse has changed in different disciplines since 1965. The results show a considerable increase in an orientation to the reader over this period, reflecting changes in both research and publication practices.
Keywords: academic arguments, cohesion, coherence, diachronic change, metadiscourse, textual interaction
Published online: 28 August 2020
Ädel, Annelie and Anna Mauranen
Aijmer, Karin and Christoph Ruhlemann
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