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Title: MSc common room casual conversations : a lexico-grammatical longitudinal study of a discourse community in formation
Author: Cutting, Joan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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This thesis provides a developmental description of the language used by an academic discourse community. Casual conversations of six post-graduate students, native speakers of English, were recorded in the Applied Linguistics common room in Edinburgh University throughout the 1991-92 course. The central hypothesis is that as common knowledge of the course and shared interpersonal knowledge increase over time, there is an increase in implicit language (an in-group code and other implicit reference features) heavily dependent on the context for its meaning. The lexico-grammatical analysis shows that the increase in knowledge over time is associated with an increase in implicit reference, but that topic is also a major influence on the form of reference. The language of course topics is more implicit than that of non-course topics. Course topics have a higher density of non-cohesive non-modified definite referring expressions with specific referents in the assumed background knowledge. Course topics also have more metonymical proper nouns, vague nouns and general words with particular pragmatic meaning. Vague expressions, ellipsis, incomplete sentences, and humorous utterances containing conversational implicature (especially banter and interpersonal irony) are found to contribute to the implicit nature of the language. It is suggested that the in-group code occurring on topic shifts makes the whole exchange implicit, and that reference can occasionally be so ambiguous that even in-group members are unsure of the referent. Functional analysis shows that the increase in knowledge over time is associated with an increase in language used to express solidarity and test the normality of progress. Expressions showing a positive attitude towards colleagues increase; these may be used to claim in-group membership.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available