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Analisis Mortoro2009 FMortoro Paper on Objectivity

Analisis Mortoro2009 FMortoro Paper on Objectivity

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Instituto Superior del Profesorado “Dr. Joaquín V. González”Departamento de InglésObjectivity in Academic Writing: A Study of Some of the Most SalientLinguistic Rhetorical Devices Employed in Radford’s Textbookswith the Aim of Construing a De-agentivized Prose.
Fernando Damián Mortoro
1
 
ABSTRACT
 
Linguists in the field of generative grammar make use of the scientific or hypothetico-deductive method of inquiry. Such method of inquiry requires generative grammarians toemploy a number of rhetorical devices in order to present their theories in an elegant andobjectified fashion. To that end, generative linguists should make use of a number of lexico-grammatical devices aimed at de-agentivizing the prose of the texts they employ in order tocommunicate their findings to the rest of their linguistic community.This paper explores some of the most salient objectifying rhetorical devices employed inRadford’s textbooks, more specifically Radford’s
Syntactic Theory and the Structure of  English
(1997) and
Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English
(2004). Suchobjectifying lexico-grammatical devices include: (a) the employment of abstract rhetors, (b)nominalizations, (c) the use of non-finite forms of the verb, (d) passivization, and (e) theemployment of the historic present tense. Such devices are mostly employed in the descriptionof the technical aspects of the theory.It is important to point out here that this study is by no means representative of each andevery sentence employed in either 
Syntactic Theory and the Structure of English
(570 pages) or 
Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English
(526 pages). Only some passages andsentences thought to be representative of Radford’s prose have been selected for the purpose of linguistic analysis. Last but not least, it is worth noting here that Radford’s prose, like any other text, is neither completely and thoroughly objective nor subjective: apart from the objectifyingdevices mentioned above, Radford’s prose contains modalizations, evaluative statements,hedges and the other agentivizing devices that clearly point to the presence of the writer’ssubjectivity in his text. The study of how and to what extent the writer is present in his textwould deserve a paper of its own right. This paper explores the writer’s employment of thelinguistic devices that are used in the production of an objectified, de-agentivized andthingified prose.
1. Introduction
Scientific discourse is believed to simply report or describe facts with almost nohuman intervention (Hyland, 1998:14): “In a strictly empiricist view, a scientific text isregarded as a neutral descriptive medium which allows a scientist to act simply as “a2
 
messenger relaying the truth from nature” (Gilbert, 1976:285). However, as will beclear from our unfolding argument, writers of scientific papers do intervene in their texts: to begin with, they are the “linguistic creators” of the texts they produce in order to communicate their findings to the rest of their scientific communities. The methods,results, and interpretations of their scientific findings are represented by propositionswhich are expressed in ordinary human language. In other words, language is alwaysmediating between reality and the cognitive entities it represents, as illustrated byKlimovsky’s quotation (2001:33):
“…[L]a captación de entidades no es un fenómeno de nuestra conducta quese ofrezca a nuestro conocimiento sin el auxilio de algunos dispositivos,entre los cuales el principal con que contamos es el lenguaje ordinario. Lostérminos y vocabulario de este nos permiten una primera conceptuación dela realidad…”
The idea that language is always mediating between cognition and reality has along standing tradition in western scientific philosophy: 
“…[El] concepto aristotélico de verdad […] se funda en el vínculo queexiste entre nuestro pensamiento, expresado a través del lenguaje, y lo queocurre fuera del lenguaje, en la realidad. Aristóteles se refiere a esta relacióncomo “adecuación” o “correspondenciaentre pensamiento y realidad. Deallí que a la noción aristotélica se la denomina también “concepciónsemántica” de la verdad, pues la semántica, como es sabido, se ocupa de lasrelaciones del lenguaje con la realidad, que está más allá del lenguaje.”(Klimovsky, 2001:24).
 Given the primacy of linguistic considerations in the creation of scientificknowledge, it is only natural that writers of scientific papers should make use of elaborate rhetorical devices in order to persuade their audiences of the truthness of their  propositions. Moreover, as Hyland (1998:16) claims, one of the most importantrhetorical objectives involves “persuading readers that a particular observation actuallylies beyond questions of persuasion and is situated within the realm of fact.Linguistically, there are a number of strategies standardly employed in the creation of an objectified, impersonalized and de-agentivized prose. These include (a) the use of 
abstract rhetors
(Hyland, 1998:172),
nominalizations
,
the employment of non-finite forms, passivization
, and
the employment of the historic present tense
.3

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