University of Limerick
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Reader engagement in English, French and Spanish economics research articles: Contrasting questions in a comparable corpus of academic writing

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posted on 2022-09-23, 11:27 authored by Niall Curry
The aim of this thesis is to identify correspondences in questions used to engage readers in English, French, and Spanish economics research articles. Contrastive approaches to academic discourse occupy a small but growing space in the literature; however, the focus is typically on two languages. Moreover, most research in academic discourse has focussed on the English language, with relatively very little research available on questions as reader engagement devices in French and Spanish academic writing. This thesis asks to what extent the presence and functions of questions as reader engagement correspond in English, French, and Spanish economics research articles. Taking a corpusbased contrastive analysis approach, this thesis merges theories of contrastive linguistics and corpus linguistics to develop a framework of analysis that ensures effective comparability across academic languages. The corpus-based contrastive analysis approach is applied to the study of questions in the English and French economics subcorpora of KIAP (Fløttum et al. 2006), as well as a comparable Spanish subcorpus created for this study. Direct questions are identified through the use of a “?” while illocutionary force indicating devices are used to identify indirect questions. In the analysis, each direct and indirect question that serves to allow the writer to interact with the reader is analysed in terms of the following equivalences: frequency, function, type and form, location, passivity, tense and verbal modality, and question sentence type. A second analysis is presented in terms of these same equivalences; however the second analysis focuses on shared question function across languages. The contributions this thesis presents deliver new information on questions in economics research articles in each language. This thesis identifies how the aforementioned equivalences cause questions to differ across languages. The findings of this study contribute to linguistic descriptions of questions as reader engagement devices in economics research articles in each language, as well as research on contrastive studies of three languages. Moreover, the findings of this study allow for engagement with wider conversations on academic language in the multilingual academy, as well discussions surrounding the theoretical underpinning of corpus-based contrastive studies. In concluding this thesis, the findings are considered in terms of the applicability to the teaching and learning of academic language.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Moriarty, Máiréad

Second supervisor

Chambers, Angela





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