Conjunctions in ELF academic discourse: a corpus-based analysis


Abstract – Conjunctions as fundamental elements in the construction of discourse cohesion represent a relatively neglected research area, due to their complexity and the bewildering number of “conjunctive relations” (Halliday and Hasan 1976: 226) that they may express in context, as also highlighted in Christiansen (2011). In addition to this, there does not seem to be a shared view as far as the classification and denomination of the different kinds of conjunctions are concerned (cf. Halliday and Hasan 1976; Vande Kopple 1985; Martin and Rose 2003; Hyland 2005b). The selection of a specific type of conjunction acquires more importance because they are typically open to so many different interpretations, especially when the participants in the speech event come from diverse lingua-cultural backgrounds (cf. Guido 2007; Guido 2008; Cogo et al. 2011).
Following the taxonomy provided by Halliday and Hasan (1976) for conjunctions, our study attempts to shed light on the usage of conjunctions by ELF speakers in specific contexts. We shall consider ten transcripts taken from the VOICE Corpus (Seidlhofer et. al 2013), namely five interviews and five conversations in multicultural academic contexts (approximately 4,000 words each), and analyze the number of instances for each type of conjunction (additive, adversative, clausal, temporal as well as continuatives) in depth, by adopting a quantitative as well as a qualitative method and by using TextSTAT 2.9 (Huning 2012). We shall then move on to the analysis of conjunctions with respect to their internal properties/collocates and eventually see the occurrence of conjunctions by comparing them with the two different speech events which are chosen as the subject of our study, i.e. interviews and conversations. We shall see the extent to which certain conjunctions are more restricted than others in terms of usage (cf. Leung 2005) in both types of speech events, despite the great number of options available to the speaker, and how some of their properties have become ‘hybridized’ (e.g. and) in multicultural contexts.
Keywords: conjunctions; ELF; VOICE corpus; discourse; cohesion.


Abstract – Le congiunzioni quali elementi fondamentali nella costruzione della coesione testuale rappresentano un’area di ricerca poco studiata, a causa della loro complessità e del numero di relazioni che le stesse possono avere a seconda del contesto (Halliday and Hasan 1976; Christiansen 2011). Inoltre, non sembra esservi una visione condivisa per quanto concerne la classificazione delle diverse tipologie di congiunzione (cf. Halliday and Hasan 1976; Vande Kopple 1985; Martin and Rose 2003; Hyland 2005b). La scelta di un tipo di congiunzione piuttosto di un’altra acquista maggiore importanza in quanto generalmente soggette a molteplici interpretazioni, soprattutto nel caso in cui i partecipanti all’atto comunicativo non condividono lo stesso background linguistico-culturale (cf. Guido 2007; Guido 2008; Cogo et al. 2011).
Avvalendosi della tassonomia per le congiunzioni fornita da Halliday and Hasan (1976), questo studio analizza l’utilizzo delle congiunzioni da parte di parlanti di Inglese Lingua Franca in contesti specialistici. Considereremo dieci trascrizioni tratte dal VOICE Corpus (Seidlhofer et. al 2013), ovvero cinque interviste e cinque conversazioni in contesti accademici multiculturali (approssimativamente 4000 parole ciascuno) e analizzeremo il numero di occorrenze per ogni congiunzione (additive, adversative, clausal, temporal e continuatives), adottando un metodo quantitative-qualitativo e utilizzando TextSTAT 2.9 (Huning 2012). Procederemo poi con l’analisi delle congiunzioni in base alle loro proprietà intrinseche/collocati e, infine, vedremo l’occorrenza delle stesse comparando le due tipologie di evento comunicativo oggetto dello studio, ossia interviste e conversazioni. Si mostrerà come il repertorio delle congiunzioni a disposizione del parlante di Inglese Lingua Franca sia molto più ristretto (cf. Leung 2005) in entrambe le tipologie testuali, nonostante il gran numero di opzioni disponibili, e come le funzioni di congiunzioni - quali, per esempio, la coordinante and - necessitino di essere esplorate nuovamente, alla luce del loro utilizzo in contesti multiculturali.
Keywords: conjunctions; ELF; VOICE corpus; discourse; cohesion.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v10p7


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