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Stylistic features of English-language linguistic abstracts: a corpus-based study

Journal: Movoznavstvo (Vol.2023, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 41-53

Keywords : research abstract; corpus; linguistics; voice; tense;

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While the genre of research abstract has recently gained much attention in the field of English for Academic Purposes, there is an acute need for more profound research into its ever-changing stylistic conventions, particularly in the area of linguistics. The purpose of the present study was to determine the stylistic features of modern Englishlanguage abstracts based on a corpus of 300 abstracts from leading journals in the field of linguistics, published in 2020 to 2023. The methodology integrated corpus methods (frequency and collocation analysis) with qualitative methods (contextual and pragmatic analysis) to determine the rhetorical and communicative strategies correlating with the identified linguistic devices. Relying on previous relevant studies, we primarily focused on the grammar categories of tense and voice. It was found out that present tense is predominant in the sample, though quite often authors choose to alternate tenses within one abstract, restricting past tense to the description of methodology and results. In these sections, it is also more common for authors to shift to passive voice, while the introduction, conclusion and implications are written mostly in active voice. Abstracts written entirely in passive voice are extremely rare in our corpus, which has important pedagogical implications. Also, we revealed that linguists are prone to non-personal use of active voice via self-referential nominals such as the study investigates, the results show. Thus, they diminish their own agency as researchers and reinforce the impression of scientific objectivity. Another stylistic aspect that we addressed is referring to previous research in the field. While it is mostly associated with the opening rhetorical move (introduction/background), we demonstrate that authors frequently refer to other studies in the field in later stages of an abstract to situate their research within the global landscape. It is becoming common for linguists to indicate in the abstract the studies they have drawn upon and the studies that their outcomes agree or disagree with. This finding should also be taken into consideration in English academic writing courses for researchers in linguistics.

Last modified: 2023-09-18 17:33:15