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Title: Construing pharmaceutical research : a social semiotic perspective
Authors: Zheng, Yaofei
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: With the rising status of English as an academic lingua franca, research article abstract (RAA) writing has become an emerging pedagogic need in English language education. However, developing an appropriate English RAA poses great linguistic challenges on both the tertiary students and language teachers in the EFL context. This research assumes that systemic understanding of the genre/text type, register and the lexico-grammatical demands within a specific discipline can enable language teachers to prepare the "what and how" of effective RAA teaching. This assumption is demonstrated by a Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL)-informed analysis on the context and language of a specific text type—pharmaceutical RAA. The language of pharmacy is chosen for investigation because it represents a typical scientific register in the domain of ESP. Although RAA writing has been widely investigated for decades by the English for Specific Purpose (ESP) genre school and the language of science has been explored by SFL scholars, systemic linguistic understanding on the construal of research abstracts and the language of pharmacy have rarely been explored. The research is underpinned by a qualitative methodology supplemented with quantitative examination on a corpus containing pharmaceutical RAAs from top international journals, Chinese journals as well as student writings. The focus of the linguistic analysis is on ideational meaning construed by field types, semantic elements and lexicogrammatical resources. Following the trinocular vision described in Hallidayan linguistics, the approach to discourse analysis is a tri-stratal one—centering around ideational semantic meanings in terms of rhetorical relations, activity sequences and taxonomy; examining ideational meaning from 'around' in terms of its relationship to the interpersonal and textual meanings, from 'above' in terms of field types in context, and from 'below' in terms of transitivity grammar and specific lexis used in realizing the discipline and the activity. Aiming to provide a systemic ideational description of the data, the present study bases the analysis on an overall analytical framework combining elements from several existing theoretical frameworks within SFL tradition: registerial cartography, Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST), taxonomy and activity sequence in discourse semantic systems and above all the grammatical theory from Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014). A pedagogic design that combines findings from the systemic analysis of the language and the theory of scaffolding evolved out of Vygotsky's learning theory is also provided for discussing ESP classroom practice informed by SFL.
The findings demonstrated in this thesis are two-fold, i.e. theoretical and practical, echoing the concept of 'appliable linguistics'. Theoretically, three innovative aspects are explored: At the context stratum, based on the 'field of activity' theorized by registerial cartography (Matthiessen, 2015), the study extends field description to 'field of experience' by modelling two field types in RAA—the 'field of research (FR)' and the 'field of object of study (FO)'; At the semantic and grammar strata, the resource of grammatical metaphor (GM) and its syndromes are closely examined through identifying different figure types and their realizations; At lexicogrammatical stratum, the categorization on process types is profiled into delicacy based on the 6 process types specified in Halliday & Matthiessen (2014) and the lexis is analyzed relating to the context and discipline. Pragmatically, the concept of 'systemic linguistic scaffolding' is proposed that highlights explicit teaching and guidance through interaction. The linguistic analysis on field types, GM and lexis is recontextualized into pedagogic metalanguage framed in the 'power trio' (cf. Martin, 2013) and a three-tiered scaffolding scheme is designed connecting linguistic theory to language classroom. In conclusion, theoretical, analytical and pedagogical attempts are made towards the understanding of the language of pharmaceutical RAA, the development of frameworks for ideational linguistic analysis from a social semiotic perspective and the applicability of systemic analysis in language teaching and learning.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pharmacy -- Research
Academic writing -- Study and teaching
English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching
Functionalism (Linguistics)
Pages: xxi, 340 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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