LINGUIST List 14.387

Fri Feb 7 2003

Diss: Text/Corpus Ling: Russel-Pinson "Linguistic..."

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  1. lmpinson, Text/Corpus Ling: Russell-Pinson "Linguistic and Extratextual..."

Message 1: Text/Corpus Ling: Russell-Pinson "Linguistic and Extratextual..."

Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003 20:53:49 +0000
From: lmpinson <>
Subject: Text/Corpus Ling: Russell-Pinson "Linguistic and Extratextual..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Georgetown University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Lisa Russell-Pinson 

Dissertation Title: 

Linguistic and Extratextual Variation in Medical English Writings: A
comparative genre analysis

Linguistic Field: 
Text/Corpus Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Applied Linguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Jeffrey Connor-Linton
Dissertation Director 2: Heidi Hamilton
Dissertation Director 3: John Staczek

Dissertation Abstract: 

Adams Smith's (1984) seminal article on author's comment is arguably
the genesis of the modern study of Medical English (ME) written
discourse. For over a decade, linguists (e.g., Atkinson 1992; Biber
and Finegan 2001; Salager-Meyer 1990, 1992, 1994; Webber 1994) have
reported on a variety of features in ME research articles. However,
comparatively fewer linguistic studies have examined the features
present in other ME professional texts, such as review articles, or in
ME writings produced for non-specialists, such as ME textbooks and
patient information texts. An investigation of three distinctive ME
genres was conducted in order to improve the understanding of the
frequency and function of the linguistic and extratextual features
used in these writings.

A corpus of 36 ME texts, totaling over 81,000 words, was constructed;
it contained 12 each of the following three genres: medical review
articles, medical textbook excerpts and patient information texts. By
choosing texts with a primarily informational communicative purpose
and by controlling for variables such as topic, date and location of
publication and source, audience could be considered as the
independent variable. The following dependent variables were examined
in the corpus: linguistic features:; nominals; personal pronouns; verb
tense/aspect/voice/mood; epistemic markers; relative clauses; sentence
type; sentence length; extratextual features: visual information;
author information; reference lists; and disclaimers. Frequencies of
the linguistic features were measured; then ANOVAs, omega2 tests and
post-hoc Tukey tests were conducted to identify significant
differences among the three genres. A qualitative approach was used in
the examination of the extratextual features.

The results from the analysis indicate that the frequencies of certain
linguistic and extratextual features vary according to four
communicative functions expressed in the ME genres: informational,
interactive, organizational and predictive. Furthermore, the same
communicative function may be conveyed by different linguistic and
extratextual features characteristic to each genre. These findings may
benefit medical educators and EMP teachers in instructing prospective
and practicing physicians and may be useful to technical writers and
health educators in developing effective written materials for
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