Reference : Metadiscourse in lectures: the case of importance marking
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Metadiscourse in lectures: the case of importance marking
Deroey, Katrien mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
42nd Austrian Linguistics Conference. Workshop: Metadiscourse in spoken discourse
[en] EAP ; metadiscourse ; lecture discourse
[en] This paper surveys how relative importance is marked lexicogrammatically in lectures (cf. Deroey and Taverniers, 2012; Deroey, 2014; Deroey, 2015). Markers of (lesser) importance (e.g. the point is, remember, anyway, briefly) are metadiscursive devices combining discourse organization with evaluation along a ‘parameter of importance or relevance’ (Thompson and Hunston, 2000: 24). Such marking can benefit lecture comprehension, note-taking and retention.
Using corpus-driven and corpus-based methods, 40 lectures from the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus were first manually examined to identify candidate markers. Further instances of these and related markers were then retrieved from the whole corpus of 160 lectures using Corpus Query Language in Sketch Engine.
A wide variety of markers were thus attested, the predominant ones of which are not the ones we would intuitively think of. Markers of important information were classified into lexicogrammatical patterns depending on the word class of their main lexeme. The multifunctional, semi-fixed expressions ‘the point is’ and ‘remember’ predominate over more stereotypical, explicit markers such as ‘the important point is’. Markers of lesser importance were classified according to how they achieved their effect. Most denote partial relevance (e.g. detail, in passing, briefly) rather than irrelevance (e.g. not pertinent, not matter, trash) and some markers appear pragmaticalized in certain contexts.
As many markers required significant interpretation to achieve their importance marking effect, an understanding of the lecture genre as well as co-textual, visual, non-verbal and prosodic clues seem particularly important in identifying their precise status. This poses a challenge to quantification. Indeed, Hunston’s observation that ‘much evaluative meaning is not obviously identifiable, as it appears to depend on immediate context and on reader assumptions about value’ (2004: 157) is particularly pertinent here.

Deroey, K. L. B., & Taverniers, M. (2012). ‘Ignore that'cause it's totally irrelevant’: marking lesser relevance in lectures. Journal of Pragmatics, 44(14), 2085-2099.
Deroey, K. L. B. (2014). ‘Anyway, the point I'm making is’: Lexicogrammatical relevance marking in lectures. In L. Vandelanotte, D. Kristin, G. Caroline, & K. Ditte (Eds.), Recent advances in corpus linguistics: developing and exploiting corpora (pp. 265-291). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Deroey, K. L. B. (2015). Marking importance in lectures: interactive and textual orientation. Applied Linguistics, 36(1), 51-72.
Thompson, G., & Hunston, S. (2000). Evaluation: An introduction. In Hunston, S., & Thompson, G. (Eds.), Evaluation in text: authorial stance and the construction of discourse (pp. 1-27). Oxford: OUP.
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