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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant


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CiteScore 2018: 0.61

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Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.670

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1860-7349
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Volume 25, Issue 6

Issues

Contentiousness in science: The discourse of critique in two sociology journals

Beverly A. Lewin
Published Online: 2005-10-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2005.25.6.723

Abstract

In the study of scientific discourse, most of the linguistic literature emphasizes politeness strategies, claiming that the scientific role demands maintaining objectivity and, therefore, mitigating criticism of other scientists (e.g., Myers 1989; Hyland 1998). However, this literature is based on studies of research reports. Adversative discourse, highlighted by Tannen (1998, 2002), has received much less attention. This paper focuses on an institutionalized genre for expressing criticism. The corpus consists of 30 ‘comments’ from the two major sociological journals. In general, the findings show that, although non-contentious or polite options are available for giving criticism, the critics often chose a more confrontational alternative. For one, criticism is often directly leveled at the target (termed Judgment) rather than restricted to his/her work. Specifically, most texts cast at least one aspersion about the target’s honesty, propriety, competence, or ability to perceive. Secondly, Judgments are unhedged and, in fact, are often intensified. Lastly, sometimes discourse strategies are employed that force the reader to concur in the criticism. These practices, which leave no room for negotiating, are inconsistent with both politeness theory and the commitment to open inquiry in science. The genre of ‘comment’ apparently allows expression of the intrapersonal needs of scientists in their role as academics. There, personal goals might dictate disregarding politeness strategies, as well as adopting an adversarial rather than collegial stance to fellow scientists.

About the article

Published Online: 2005-10-13

Published in Print: 2005-10-26


Citation Information: Text, Volume 25, Issue 6, Pages 723–744, ISSN (Online) 1613-4117, ISSN (Print) 0165-4888, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2005.25.6.723.

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[1]
Miguel Urra Canales, Ana María Garzón Ferro, Mayra Alejandra García Jurado, Camilo Castiblanco Durán, Alexander Gamba Trimiño, and Sthefanía Lizarazo Zuloaga
Revista Colombiana de Sociología, 2019, Volume 42, Number 2, Page 163
[2]
Beverly A. Lewin and Hadara Perpignan
Text & Talk, 2012, Volume 32, Number 6
[3]
Elena Afros
English for Specific Purposes, 2014, Volume 34, Page 79
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Elena Afros and Catherine F. Schryer
English for Specific Purposes, 2009, Volume 28, Number 1, Page 58

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