Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 18:34:49 +0100 From: Sara Laviosa Subject: Applying English Grammar: Functional and Corpus Approaches
EDITORS: Coffin, Caroline; Hewings, Ann; O'Halloran, Kieran TITLE: Applying English Grammar SUBTITLE: Functional and Corpus Approaches PUBLISHER: Arnold Publishers (distributed in US by Oxford University Press) YEAR: 2004
Sara Laviosa, Facoltà di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, Università degli Studi di Bari, Italy
This edited volume comprising both newly commissioned and previously published papers is most welcome in so far as it brings together in a novel way two approaches to English grammar, namely the systemic functional approach and the corpus linguistic one, both of them becoming increasingly relevant to the empirical description of language use and the study of how language transmits values, identities, and ideology. The book is divided into three self-contained parts each being preceded by an introduction which usefully sets out the aims of each section. Part 1 introduces the principal theoretical tenets and methodologies underlying the systemic functional and corpus linguistic perspectives to English language studies. Part 2 presents further studies carried out within the functional and the corpus linguistic frameworks with a view to comparing and contrasting different text types. The focus of Part 3 is Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), which has recently begun to draw on corpus linguistics giving rise to what is known as corpus-based CDA.
Part 1 Chapter 1 by Elena Tognini-Bonelli outlines the basic principles and the main issues pertaining to the corpus linguistic approach, starting from the very notion of corpus and ending with the different uses of corpora in descriptive and applied studies, including translation. Part 1 Chapter 2 by Ronald Carter reports on an empirical study aimed at highlighting some important grammatical patterns that distinguish spoken from written discourse. In Part 1 Chapter 3 Douglas Biber and Susan Conrad present a comparative study of the lexico-grammatical features of four registers: conversation, fiction, newspaper writing, and academic prose. Part 1 Chapter 4 by Jim R. Martin explains some fundamental differences between structuralist approaches to grammar, with their focus on part- whole structure of grammatical units, and systemic functional grammar, which is concerned with showing the relation between structure and meaning. In Part 1 Chapter 5 M. A. K. Halliday illustrates and discusses some typical difficulties presented by scientific writing, which he groups under seven closely related headings: interlocking definitions, technical taxonomies, special expressions, lexical density, syntactic ambiguity, grammatical metaphor, and semantic discontinuity.
Part 2 Chapter 1 by Ann Hewings and Martin Hewings investigates how the anticipatory it functions in two contrasting collections of academic prose, i.e. student and published academic writing, demonstrating intra- register variation with regard to one grammatical structure. Part 2 Chapter 2 by Hilary Hillier examines the clause and noun phrase structures that characterize two versions of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, namely the original nineteenth-century novel and a simplified Guided Reader version written by Margaret Tarner aimed at learners of English. The analysis finds its place within the functional framework but uses mostly traditional grammatical labelling. Part 2 Chapter 3 by Ann Hewings and Caroline Coffin combine a quantitative corpus-based analysis with a functional analysis of university students' on-line conference discussions -- a variety of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) -- and essay writing, with a view to ascertaining the extent to which the former genre is closer to speech or written academic prose. In Part 2 Chapter 4 Clare Painter describes, within the theoretical framework of systemic functional linguistics, the speech development of a growing child and unveils not only specific aspects of the developing linguistic system but also the speaker's use of the system as a means of making sense of the world. Part 2 Chapter 5 by Gill Francis and Anneliese Kramer-Dahl reports on a comparative examination of Oliver Sacks' clinical tales vis-à-vis a case report published in a professional journal of neuropsychology.
In Part 3 Chapter 1 Andrew Goatly starts his investigation by assuming that English grammar normally structures reality according to a Newtonian view of the world. He then proceeds to investigate the representation of nature in The Times vis-à-vis Wordsworth's The Prelude using the theoretical framework of systemic functional grammar and a corpus-based methodology. In Part 3 Chapter 2 Veronika Koller and Gerlinde Mautner examine the advantages of combining the use of concordancing programs with CDA's traditional qualitative analyses, illustrating the points made with two case studies. The first is the role of personal pronouns in newspaper editorials in the construction of social identities and social relations, the second is the role played by the lemma federal in the British debate on the European Union. Part 3 Chapter 3 by Peter White provides a framework for investigating what it might mean for a media news report to be neutral and value free and how to distinguish between objective and subjective texts whose positive or negative evaluations might influence the reader's view about the people, events, and states of affairs depicted in the text Part 3. Chapter 4 by Michael Stubbs is an analysis of the expression of causativity in ergative constructions and modality in projective that-clauses in two school textbooks on physical and human geography vis-à-vis a written corpus of English with a view to unveiling the different ideological stances expressed in the school books. Part 3 Chapter 5 by Kieran O'Halloran and Caroline Coffin illustrates the ways in which, thanks to corpus-based techniques, the analysis of reader positioning to accept a particular point of view can be rendered more rigorous by reducing over- and under-interpretations of a given text such as the news report in a tabloid newspaper.
Aimed primarily at undergraduate students, this volume is part of a course entitled English Grammar in Context run by the Open University. Highly readable and clearly organized into self-contained sections, it provides an up-to-date theoretical and methodological framework for the analysis of the English language as it is used today. The glossary compiled by Sarah North gives clear definitions of key terms helping the reader to follow with ease the contents of each article. The novelty of this work lies in having shown the distinct possibility of integrating two different approaches to English grammar and exploring the potential for cross- fertilization of these two areas of study.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Sara Laviosa was Head of the Italian Section of the School of Languages at the University of Salford, UK, where she lectured in translation practice and theory. She is now a Research Fellow in English Language and Translation at the Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Tradizioni Culturali Anglo-Germaniche, University of Bari, Italy. Her main research interests are in Corpus-based Translation Studies. She has designed the English Comparable Corpus (ECC) and the Commercial Italian Corpus (COMIC) and has contributed to the development of the Translational English Corpus (TEC). She has published articles and collected volumes on Translation Studies and Language Teaching Methodologies. She has authored the volume Corpus-based Translation Studies: Theory, Findings, Applications.