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Title: A corpus-based study of closure and sublanguage in the nursing textbooks and journals
Author: Muhammad, Mazura Mastura
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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Various studies have described a highly specialised language as a subset or subsystem of the general language (Harris, 1968: 152), a jargon (Bross, Shapiro, & Anderson, 1972: 1303) or a sublanguage (Sager, 1986: 2; DeVille, 2001 : 5 and McEnery & Wilson, 1996: 166). One form of language that often been considered as a sublanguage is the clinical language of the health care domain. Different studies have defined a sublanguage on the basis of features such as specialised subject matter, specific community, the speaker communicative purpose and domain-specific lexis and syntax. McEnery & Wilson (1996: 166), on the other hand, suggest that a sublanguage should be defined based on having a high degree of closure at various levels of description. This study replicates and expands on McEnery & Wilson 's investigation. The prime aim is to measure the degree of closure of the nursing textbooks and journals in order, first, to determine whether these two restricted forms of clinical language can be rightly categorised as a sublanguage; second, to understand better the linguistic features of the language of the nursing domain; and finally, to better understand the nature of sub language. The nursing textbook and journal corpora are compared to weather reports and the BNC Sampler. Like clinical language, weather reports have been classified as a sub language in many studies (for example Kittridge, 1982: 116). It is hypothesised that the weather reports and the nursing textbooks and journals represent sub languages and that the BNC Sampler, on the other hand, represents unrestricted language. Besides, measuring closure at lexical, morphsyntactic and constituent levels, this study extends McEnery & Wilson's (1996) methodology to an examination of n-gram closure. The findings show that none of the linguistic inventories of these corpora approach closure at all levels; the nursing textbooks and journals seem to belong in a middle area between highly constrained language and highly unconstrained language. The idea of 'sublanguage' is, thus problematic. The original definition of a sublanguage suggests a clear division between sublanguage and unconstrained language. However, the findings of this study seem to show that there is no explicit or clear-cut boundary; rather, the concept of sublanguage should be on a continuum, with constrained language/sublanguage and unconstrained languages at the two extreme ends, and the position of particular types of language an effect, in part, of genre.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available