Context and text in scientific disciplines of English
A social semiotic perspective
As major world languages – Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese, for instance – become the medium of university networks, it may be the right time to take stock of the influence that English has had over the way the disciplines of humanities and sciences have been shaped, directed and evaluated, in particular in the second half of the 20th century. This paper is an attempt to understand some of the textual, linguistic and historical determinants of Disciplinary English (DE) specifically in the spectrum of technical subjects. DE is now a way of meaning which has become associated with objective authority. From this association, DE has shaped our disciplinary knowledge and spread across to registers of bureaucratic and political subject matter. The discussion also considers innovative potential in disciplinary discourses, in particular what Halliday regarded as the “knight’s move” in text: this is the related, analogical effect of Hasan’s “symbolic articulation” in verbal art and grammatical metaphor in the language of technical disciplines.
Keywords: social semiotic, register, context of situation, context of culture, logogenesis, phylogenesis, “knight’s move”, discipline, cultural task, textual motivation
- 1.Configurations of meanings for specific cultural tasks
- 2.Textual motivations for the “favoured form” of verbal science: A logogenetic perspective
- 3.Phylogenetic and contextual perspectives
- 4.Context of culture
- 5.Contexts of situation
- 5.2Material action
- 5.3Action with symbols
- 5.4“Goal orientation”: short or long term goals; or both; with or without explicit declaration or evidence of the ultimate goals
- 6.The ontogenetic perspective: the early roots of disciplinary discourse from home to school and to university
- 7.Disciplined imagination: from analogy to meaning potential
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Published online: 04 February 2019
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