Footnotes in academic written discourse : a formal and functional analysis
This thesis presents a formal and functional analysis of footnotes In academic journal articles. In Chapter One a brief account of the recent history of Genre Analysis Studies leading to a definition of footnotes Is given. Also given is an account of the differences and similarities between footnotes and some other germane conventional structures (viz, parentheticals and asides) that may carry out similar functions to those that footnotes realize. Reasons why writers use footnotes are suggested and discussed. The work Is based on a corpus of 10 linguistics journal articles comprising 113 footnotes. In the search for a framework in Chapter Two, the relevant literature on text and discourse analysis studies is carefully examined and applied to a sample of the data used for the present work. A classification of the functions to which the article writers have put their footnotes Is offered In Chapter Three. The Chapter ends with a discussio. of the. cxttexta wttte.cs lzase. their footnoting decisions on. The cohesion and coherence relations between footnotes, the 'matrix text exit sentence' (i.e. the sentence tagged by the footnote) and the 'matrix text re-entry sentence' (i.e. the sentence following the one tagged by the footnote) had been Investigated In the context of cohesion and coherence theories and Winter's "Clause Relations". An experiment was conducted to test the coherence and cohesion relations between 'matrix text exit sentences' and footnotes. The issue of whether footnotes present new or old information Is then taken up and the literature on the THENE-RHEME dichotomy is reviewed with a view to shedding further light on footnotes. Chapter Five Is concerned with the question of whether footnotes help or hinder the reader and the reading process and the results are statistically analyzed. Readers' attitudes towards footnotes are surveyed through the use of a questionnaire. Also addressed are the Issues of: the utility of footnotes to readers and the purposes for which readers consult footnotes. In Chapter Six some linguistic features recurring In footnotes (e.g. formulaic expressions, the frequent use of proper names, hedges, etc.) are studied. The results of the study suggest that the employment of footnotes Is a compensatory strategy on the part of writers to overcome the problem of being over/under informative especially when an article is targeted at a multiple audience. This thesis, In addition to the fact that It provides a coverage of a neglected but intrinsically InterestIng and important genre (FOOTNOTES), makes certain theoretical and pedagogical suggestions and identifies further issues for future research which are presented on in Chapter Seven.