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Title: Scholarly writing development : complexity and evaluation in twentieth century linguists' semiotic trajectories
Authors: Guerra Lyons, Jesus David
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: This thesis investigates how scholars develop as meaning makers by exploring developmental drifts and pathways in linguists' academic writing trajectories related to syntactic and lexical complexity and the use of interpersonal lexicogrammar. I adopt a complementary methods approach integrating quantitative tools with qualitative follow-up analyses of salient variation patterns. I examine developmental variation in scholarly trajectories through a cohort sequential design examining quantitative data pertaining to the target complexity and interpersonal dimensions for significant variations across two data collection points, termed "Early career" and "Late career", within three cohort groupings determined by decade of birth. I also explore developmental variation through an extended longitudinal approach, featuring a case study of a scholar's five-decade writing trajectory. Regarding variation in complexity, early career and late career writing remain largely similar as per the statistical analysis of most complexity parameters. The complexity measures showing significant, yet subtle, diachronic differences are coordinate phrase per clause, coordinate phrase per T-unit, lexical diversity, and specialized lexical sophistication. The first two measures correspond to a developmental drift in TCL scholars' academic writing whereby late career writing involves a significant (yet subtle) increase in coordinate phrases. Analysis reveals that functional mechanism underlying this trend is paratactic extension of the coordinating type, a logicosemantic motif involving two or more elements with equal status within a clause complex or a nominal group complex (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014, p. 559).
With regard to variation in interpersonal lexicogrammar, most interpersonal features examined show no significant differences across career periods, including the overall distribution of speech-functional moves and evaluation through probability-type modalization. Three developmental drifts include a general decrease of evaluative statements across cohorts, a general decrease in the use of comment assessment, and cohort-specific decrease in the use of negative evaluation. TCL scholars' early career writing tends to include more frequent evaluation of propositions and entities while late career writing could be considered, in Martin and White's (2005) terms, more monoglossic. Using a cohort sequential design (Schaie & Caskie, 2005), I studied two complementary perspectives on the modelling of registerial change: change across times of measurement (general change) and change between cohorts. The general change perspective considered three times of measurement (the 1960's, 1990's, and 2010's), showed findings coinciding with trends reported in cross-sectional linguistic studies, including densification, objectivization, and a slight decrease in lexical sophistication. The cohort variation perspective examined differences between TCL scholars grouped according to shared historical periods in their semiotic lifelines, illuminating differences in syntactic complexity, lexical complexity, and evaluative lexicogrammar. The complementarity of the perspectives is evident in the different trends identified in each (except for lexical complexity measures, which are significant in both perspectives).
Subjects: Academic writing
Discourse analysis
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: vii, xii-xx, 342 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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