Session VIII



Just like the last session, this session will enable you to identify and use textual patterns characteristic of specialist writing. While the last session focussed on sentence-level syntax, this session will home in on larger units of text. Even short pieces of specialist text tend to exhibit predictable patterns; we will look at three of these: ‘general–specific’, ‘problem–solution’ and ‘claim–counter-claim’.


There is no required reading for this session. However, you may wish to pursue the subject further by by consulting the Purdue Writing Lab website or by reading up on how to write a dissertation (or ‘term paper’). A good book on the subject is John M. Swales/Christine B. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students, Ann Arbor: the Universiy of Michigan Press. We will discuss these sources in greater detail in the session devoted to ‘Writing Specialist Texts’.


Assignment: 1) Write two or three introductory paragraphs for your dissertation (or ‘term paper’). If possible, use one or several of the textual patterns we discussed in class. 2) Use the notes below to write a passage using the ‘claim–counter-claim’ pattern; employ appropriate phraseology to link individual sections:


Traditional view speech is an inferior version of writing – i.e. less ‘correct’, full of errors and hesitations in speech, grammar is very much simpler than in writing with loosely-organised syntax.


More recently – linguists challenge view primacy of speech i.e. speech preceded writing two different systems with different functions. e.g. Halliday (1989) –’grammatical intricacy’ of spoken language and ‘lexical density’ of written language i.e. speech is not ‘ungrammatical’ but uses a different grammatical system.

(Exercise 2 retrieved from the Internet, author unknown)