Event Information:

  • Tue

    A corpus-based contrastive discourse analysis of (para)scientific texts on climate change

    11:00 amMR1, FASS Building / Livestream

    Niall Curry, Coventry University

    Research on the discourses of climate change occupies an important niche in applied linguistics literature. Spanning studies of social media, newspapers, government policy, and political discourses, work in this area has revealed that cultural variation plays a critical role in determining how issues such as deforestation and climate scepticism, for example, appear to be of varying importance across cultures and languages. In the context of academic and parascientific texts, variation in how climate change discourse is socially constructed is apparent across disciplines and genre, with academics framing and discussing climate change in notably different ways when writing for different disciplinary, transdisciplinary, and specialist/non-specialist audiences. However, while in media discourses, cross-linguistic and cultural variation have been investigated and found to play a key role in differentiating the construction of climate change discourse, there is a dearth of multilingual work on academic discourses. This means that our understanding of how academic knowledge of this global issue is glocalised and constructed across languages, disciplines, and specialist/non-specialist academic texts remains unclear. It is to this gap in the literature that this research contributes.

    Recognising the need to unpack how academic discourses on climate change correspond and vary as knowledge moves across languages, disciplines, and academic and parascientific texts, this talk presents a corpus-based contrastive analysis of research articles and academic blogs from hard and soft sciences in English, French, and Spanish that discuss the issue of climate change. These languages were chosen owing to their roles as global linguae francae and their national value in a number of countries for disseminating research to practitioners, policy makers, and government officials. Drawing on a range of corpus techniques, including key word analysis and function-to-form/form-to-function analysis, the aim of this talk is to show correspondences and differences in climate change discourses across the texts studied with a view to identifying the varying ways in which climate change knowledge is constructed. In doing so, the talk identifies potential points of ambiguity and confusion in the linguistic construction of climate change when contrasted on the global and multidisciplinary stage.

    The results of this presentation offer a number of key contributions to corpus linguistic research on climate change. First, they add a much needed multilingual perspective on a global issue that has largely been studied in the English language. Second, the results illustrate key differences that occur in the social construction of climate change knowledge across language, discipline, and genre. The identified differences point to ways in which the linguistic construction of climate change knowledge can contribute to misconceptions, misrepresentations, and confusions surrounding this issue, which, in turn, can hamper the development of a coherent, collective understanding of climate change as a global, multicultural, and transdisciplinary issue. Looking forward, it is envisaged that these findings can therefore help guide academics and science communicators to communicate their research on this important issue more effectively to their various audiences.

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    BIO Niall Curry is an Assistant Professor and ASPiRE Research Fellow at Coventry University, specialising in corpus and applied linguistics. He is the author of Academic Writing and Reader Engagement: Contrasting Questions in English, French and Spanish Corpora, published by Routledge (2021), and has published in field leading journals, including International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Corpora, and English Language and Linguistics. He is PI and Co-I on a number of projects, funded by the UKRI and the Cambridge Funded Research Programme and he is Managing Editor of the Journal of Academic Writing, Section Editor of the Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, and a Géras International Correspondent. See for details on his work.