Marge Käsper will defend her doctoral thesis titled "Présenter des ouvrages académiques en sciences humaines et sociales en français et en estonien. Pistes contrastives pour étudier les cultures discursives dans les comptes rendus de lecture français et estoni" on Friday, 13 October 2017 at 12.15.
Tiina-Ann Kirss, PhD, University of Tartu
Marie-Ann Paveau, University of Paris 13 Sorbonne Paris Cité
Anu Treikelder, PhD, University of Tartu
Professor Eija Suomela-Salmi, University of Turu
Daniele Monticelli, Tallinn University
Description of the problem
What is good academic style – how can it be described and what is its practice? How different can the writing practices in different languages be and how universal are the evaluation criteria in this context? Academic writing practices differ in general by discipline, and texts in one discipline in different languages can be more similar to each other than texts in different disciplines in same language. All texts also become more and more similar in global academia. In this context, however, is it possible to speak about linguistic and cultural differences? Focusing on the disciplines of linguistics and history, the doctoral thesis studies, on the basis of book reviews, how academic books in social sciences and in the humanities are introduced in French and Estonian language spaces. Analyzing textual sequences, comments, and patterns of vocabulary, the thesis studies academic practices and values of these discursive communities and, through this, the ‘discursive culture’ reflected in texts.
Result and benefit
Considering the dimensions of discipline and language space as well as evolution in time, the thesis shows, by analyzing several textual and linguistic aspects (initial and final sequences, comments and practices of structuring, evaluative vocabulary, etc.), that the conceptualization of books and of texts introducing them is slightly different in two language contexts. The function of a book review written in French can be described as that of placing the book in the context of previous texts and discourses and evaluating how convincing the interpretation presented in the book is. The book reviews written in Estonian focus more on the fact of publication and on the information content. Thus, the usage of the key word clarity studied in detail in the thesis can be schematized in French texts as ‘showing clearly’ whereas the schema of the same keyword in Estonian contexts is rather ‘becoming clear, to see clearly’. In linguistics, as the research shows, in both language spaces the focus is on clear, and at the same time not too detailed presentation of data. In history, instead, the focus is on the credibility of data and their presentation. In the comparison of 2005 and 2015 data, a change in research format can be observed (fewer monographs, more collective volumes), but the differences in use of evaluative vocabulary remain the same. A common change can be noticed in conceptualization of research and researchers toward to underline more their utility and contribution function and less a personal or an emotional commitment.
By focusing on the comparative perspective, the thesis thus offers ways of analyzing the experiential models reflected in authentically written text materials, instead of the usual focus in academic discourse analysis on teaching effective academic writing in lingua franca English or on elaborating the academic vocabulary of smaller languages to protect. Analyzing a discursive culture on the level of text genre enables us to study linguistic and cultural differences without broad generalizations. The “pointing out perspective” elaborated in the thesis provides a solid theoretical basis to the initial idea that an analysis of a text written in a foreign language, in contrast to a text written in one’s first language, in comparable conditions makes it possible to notice differences and to analyze both text cultures. The overview of contrastive linguistics and of discourse analysis methodology, both of which are of a great importance in the thesis, is presented in a way to show how the knowledge of language, in any topic areas, can contribute to the study of socio-cultural context.