Reference : Markers of lesser importance in lecture discourse
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Markers of lesser importance in lecture discourse
Deroey, Katrien mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
1st International Conference on Corpus Analysis in Academic Discourse
from 22-11-2017 to 24-11-2017
[en] discourse organization ; importance marking ; metadiscourse ; lecture discourse
[en] This paper surveys how less important lecture discourse is marked lexicogrammatically in the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus (Deroey and Taverniers, 2012; Deroey, 2014). Such interpersonal, metadiscursive devices combine discourse organization with evaluation along a ‘parameter of importance or relevance’ (Thompson and Hunston, 2000: 24). They can help students discern the relative importance of points and so may aid lecture comprehension, note-taking and retention.
The markers were first retrieved manually from 40 lectures and then using Sketch Engine from all 160 lectures. They fell into five categories: (i) message status markers (e.g. not pertinent, joke, anyway); (ii) topic treatment markers (e.g. briefly, not look at, for a moment); (iii) lecturer knowledge markers (e.g. not know, not remember); (iv) assessment markers (e.g. not examine, not learn); and (v) attention- and note-taking markers (e.g. ignore, not copy down).
This study illustrates the challenge of identifying and quantifying pragmatic features in academic discourse. Few markers explicitly evaluated discourse as being unimportant (e.g. not pertinent) and few had an inherent meaning of lesser importance (e.g. incidentally). Instead, they depended rather heavily on pragmatic interpretation to achieve their effect and could generally be viewed as ‘muted signals’ (Swales and Burke, 2003: 17), expressing importance implicitly or cumulatively (cf. Hunston, 2011). Hence, 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. (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/New York: Rodopi.
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.
Hunston, S. (2004). Counting the uncountable: Problems of identifying evaluation in a text and in a corpus. In A. Partington, J. Morley, & L. Haarman (Eds.), Corpora and discourse (pp. 157-188). Bern: Peter Lang.
Hunston, S. (2011). Corpus approaches to evaluation: phraseology and evaluative language (Vol. 13). New York: Routledge.
Swales, J. M., & Burke, A. (2003). " Its really fascinating work": Differences in Evaluative Adjectives across Academic Registers. Language and Computers, 46(1), 1-18. 
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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