THE TRANSPARENCY TROPE: DECONSTRUCTING ENGLISH ACADEMIC DISCOURSE

Karen Bennett

Abstract

English Academic Discourse has always presented itself as a neutral vehicle of objective fact. Through the use of clearly defi ned terms and straightforward syntax, and the studied avoidance of forms of overt manipulation of the reader, it claims to offer a transparent window onto some pre-existing external reality. Today, however, most linguists agree that objectivity is a linguistic construct, achieved by the systematic use of grammatical forms such as nominalizations and the passive voice which mask human agency. Similarly, it is now generally understood that even the most positivistic science texts contain a certain amount of rhetorical manoeuvring designed to convince the reader of the truth value and utility of the claims made. This paper draws upon a range of linguistic, historical and philosophical sources to question this discourse’s status as the hegemonic vehicle of knowledge in the modern world.

Keywords

English Academic Discourse; transparency; rhetoric; science; epistemology

Full Text:

References

Show references Hide references

Bennett, K. (2007a) ‘Galileo’s revenge: Ways of construing knowledge and translation
strategies in the era of globalization.’ In: Salaama-Carr, M. (ed.) Translation and
Confl ict, Special issue of Social Semiotics, 17/2, 171-193.


Bennett, K. (2007b) ‘Epistemicide! The tale of a predatory discourse.’ In: Cunico, S. and
Munday, J. (eds) Translation and Ideology: Encounters and Clashes, Special ed. of
The Translator 13/2,151-169.


Bennett, K. (2015) ‘Towards an epistemological monoculture: Mechanisms of
epistemicide in European research publication.’ In: Plo, R. and Pérez-Llantada, C.
(eds) English as an Academic and Research Language (English in Europe. Vol. 2).
Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.


Berman, A. (1988) From the New Criticism to Deconstruction: The Reception of
Structuralism and Post-Structuralism. University of Illinois Press.


De Swaan, A. (2001) ‘English in the social sciences.’ In: Ammon, U. (ed.) The Dominance
of English as a Language of Science: Effects on Other Languages and Language
Communities. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 71-83.


Ding, D. (1998) ‘Rationality reborn: Historical roots of the passive voice in scientifi c
discourse.’ In: Battalio, J. (ed.) Essays in the Study of Scientifi c Discourse: Methods,
Practice and Pedagogy. Stamford: Ablex. 117-135.


Foucault, M. (2002, 1972 [1969]) The Archaeology of Knowledge. London and New
York: Routledge.


Gross, A. and Chesley, P. (2012) ‘Hedging, stance and voice in medical research articles.’
In: Hyland, K. and Sancho Guinda C. (eds) Stance and Voice in Written Academic
Genres. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 85-100.


Halliday, M. A. K and Martin, J. R. (1993) Writing Science: Literacy and Discursive
Power. Pittsburgh and London: University of Pittsburgh Press.


Hyland, K. (1999a) ‘Academic attribution: Citation and the construction of disciplinary
knowledge.’ Applied Linguistics 20/3, 341-367. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/20.3.341


Hyland, K. (1999b) ‘Disciplinary discourses: Writer stance in research articles.’ In:
Candlin, C. and Hyland, K. (eds) Writing Texts: Processes and Practices. London and
New York: Longman. 99-121.


Hyland, K. (2000) Disciplinary Discourses: Social Interactions in Academic Writing.
Harlow: Longman.


Jelinek, E. and Demers, R. (1994) ‘Predicates and pronominal arguments in straits Salish.’
Language 70/4, 697-736. https://doi.org/10.2307/416325


Kuhn, T. S. ([1962] 1996) The Structure of Scientifi c Revolutions. 3rd ed. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.


Lillis, T. and Curry, M. J. (2010) Academic Writing in a Global Context: The Politics and
Practices of Publishing in English. London and New York: Routledge.


Lyotard, J.-F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, transl. by
Bennington, G. and Massumi, B. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Mauranen, A. (1993) Cultural Differences in Academic Rhetoric. Frankfurt am Main:
Peter Lang.


Merton, R. K. ([1938] 2001) Science, Technology and Society in Seventeenth-Century
England. New York: Howard Fertig.

Swales, J. M. (1990) Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings.
Cambridge. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Thompson, G. (2001) ‘Interaction in academic writing: Learning to argue with the reader.’
Applied Linguistics 22/1, 58-78. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/22.1.58


Thompson, P. (2012) ‘Achieving a voice of authority in PhD theses.’ In: Hyland, K. and
Sancho Guinda, C. (eds) Stance and Voice in Written Academic Genres. London and
New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 119-130.


White, H. (1997) ‘The suppression of rhetoric in the nineteenth century.’ In: Schildgen,
B. D. (ed.) The Rhetoric Canon. Detroit: Wayne State University. 21-31.


Woods, P. (2006) Successful Writing for Qualitative Researchers. 2nd ed. London and New
York: Routledge.

https://doi.org/10.5817/DI2015-2-5


Crossref Cited-by (6)

The listed references are provided by Cited-by (Crossref service) and thus do not represent the full list of sources citing the article.

1. Research for the People, by the People: The Political Practice of Cognitive Justice and Transformative Learning in Environmental Social Movements
Jane Burt
Sustainability  vol: 11,  issue: 20,  first page: 5611,  year: 2019  
https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205611

2. Transparency and the rhetorical use of citations to Robert Yin in case study research
Maurizio Massaro, John Dumay, Carlo Bagnoli
Meditari Accountancy Research  vol: 27,  issue: 1,  first page: 44,  year: 2019  
https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-08-2017-0202

3. Cross-cultural analysis of conference abstracts
Renata Povolná
Discourse and Interaction  vol: 9,  issue: 1,  first page: 29,  year: 2016  
https://doi.org/10.5817/DI2016-1-29

4. Migration, Education and Translation
Laura Gurney, Sherrie Lee
ISBN 9780429291159  first page: 129,  year: 2019  
https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429291159-10

5. Non-natives writing for Anglo-American journals: Challenges and urgent needs
Katarzyna Hryniuk
ISBN 9788323536857  year: 2019  
https://doi.org/10.31338/uw.9788323536857

6. Multilingual Education Yearbook 2018
Adriana Díaz
ISBN 978-3-319-77655-2  Chapter 2,  first page: 21,  year: 2018  
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-77655-2_2



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.