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Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 919181

Epistemic Modality in Academic Discourse in the Croatian and English Language

Varga, Mirna
Epistemic Modality in Academic Discourse in the Croatian and English Language 2016., doktorska disertacija, Filozofski fakultet u Osijeku, Osijek

Epistemic Modality in Academic Discourse in the Croatian and English Language

Varga, Mirna

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Ocjenski radovi, doktorska disertacija

Filozofski fakultet u Osijeku





Gradečak-Erdeljić, Tanja

Ključne riječi
Academic discourse ; research article ; epistemic modality ; hedge ; English, Croatian
(Academic discourse ; research article ; epistemic modality ; hedge ; English ; Croatian)

The present thesis is the result of a cross- cultural, genre-based study whose main objective is to examine how writers of research articles in psychology in Croatian and English use epistemic modality devices in hedging their claims or in evaluating other scholars’ work. Based on the corpus of 60 research articles published in Croatian and English journals, the study aims to establish the patterns of similarities and differences in the use of the epistemic devices across the main rhetorical sections of a research article as well as to identify their major hedging functions. The overall results show that English writers use epistemic markers more frequently than their Croatian counterparts. This finding is generally in line with the previous cross- cultural studies, showing a more salient use of hedges and their more entrenched status in the Anglo- American writing as compared to academic writing in some other languages investigated. With respect to the individual categories of epistemic devices, the results show both similarities and differences in their uses across the two sub-corpora. In both the English and Croatian sub-corpus, epistemic modal verbs are employed most frequently, followed by epistemic verbs, while epistemic nouns are the least frequent category of epistemic devices. The major difference in the overall results concerns the distributional patterns in the use of epistemic devices. While epistemic modal verbs show a strikingly high frequency of occurrences as compared to other epistemic devices in the English corpus, the results of the frequency analysis of the Croatian corpus show that writers hedge their claims mostly by means of the modal verbs, epistemic verbs, and epistemic adverbs and particles, as attested by their overall similar frequencies. With respect to the distribution of epistemic devices across the research article sections, both English and Croatian writers hedge their claims mostly in the Discussion, followed by the Introduction section, while the use of epistemic devices in the remaining two sections is significantly lower by comparison. Generally, this complies with the major rhetorical functions of the research article sections. Thus, the highest density of hedges in the Discussion reflects its major rhetorical functions primarily concerned with writers’ interpretations and implications of the given research, which often requires a cautious and tentative use of language, shielding writers from the risks of negatibilty of the claims. By contrast, the use of hedges in the middle research article sections is less salient given their focus on the descriptive accounts of the methodological procedures and obtained findings. Drawing on Hyland’s (1998) polypragmatic model of scientific hedges, epistemic devices in both corpora are mostly concerned with the reliability type of hedges, concerned with indicating uncertainties towards the propositional content, signaling at the same time the extent to which the claims may be considered as accurate given the limited state of knowledge they are based on. In addition, epistemic markers may be used as writer- oriented hedges concerned with diminishing the writers’ presence in the text, allowing them to maintain distance from the proposed claims. Finally, the use of epistemic verbs co- occurring with the 1st person plural pronouns is interpreted in the present study as a writer’s strategic choice in foregrounding the epistemic stance. This use of epistemic devices is more frequent in the English as compared to the Croatian corpus, which is in line with some previous crosscultural research, indicating that self-mention is a more prominent feature of the Anglo- American writing as compared to that in other languages. In sum, the present findings provide an insight into the use of the epistemic language in the cross-cultural disciplinary writing and as such may be of particular use to the Croatian speaking disciplinary scholars, students and all those interested in writing research articles in English. On a more general note, it is expected that the study may incite further research on academic writing conventions in Croatian or their comparison with those in English as a lingua franca of science.

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Filozofski fakultet, Osijek

Autor s matičnim brojem:
Mirna Varga, (363143)