This book traces the development of the scientific journal article as a linguistic genre in terms of its linguistic features. It looks at Chaucer's "Treatise on the Astrolabe", as the first technical text written in English. Texts by Boyle, Power and Hooke from the late seventeenth century are then considered. This leads to the detailed analysis of a corpus of texts taken from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society covering the period 1700 to 1980. The main linguistic features studied are passive forms, first person pronouns, nominalization, and thematic structure. From the study of these linguistic features emerges a picture of the development of science where the physical sciences can be distinguished form the biological. The physical sciences are experimental from the beginning of this period, whereas the biological sciences only begin to become so towards the middle of the nineteenth century. Until then they are observational. With the turn of the twentieth century the physical sciences adopt mathematical modelling as their major focus, a feature which has not affected the biological sector by the end of the period under study.
Thus it is seen that the language is intimately related to the context within which it is produced.
David Banks holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge, a doctorate from the Universite de Nantes, and an HDR (Habilitation a Diriger des Recherches) from the Universite de Bordeaux 2. Born in Newcastle in 1943, he has been living abroad since 1975, initially in Iraq, and subsequently in France. He is currently Professor of English Linguistics at the Universite de Bretagne Occidentale (Brest). He is head of ERLA (Equipe de Recherche en Linguistique Appliquee) and Chairman of AFLSF (Association Francaise de la Linguistique Systemique Fonctionnelle).
Introduction Diachronic study of scientific text Systemic Functional Linguistics - a suitable framework Thematic structure Grammatical metaphor Part 1: From Chaucer to Newton 1. Beginning with Chaucer Where it all began The Passive Personal pronouns Nominalization 2. Between Chaucer and Newton A troubled period Francis Bacon Robert Boyle Henry Power and Robert Hooke Experimental and descriptive sciences 3. The Royal Society and Newton The place of the Royal Society and its Philosophical Transactions Newton Newton and the influence of Latin Newton and Huygens Part 2: The intervening centuries 4. A way forward Two centuries of increasing nominalization The corpus 5 Passives Increasing use of passives Passives and process types 6 First person pronoun Subjects A rare phenomenon The eighteenth century situation Continuation in the nineteenth century The twentieth century: a radical change 7. Nominalization Nominalizing processes Experiment Nominalized processes as Modifiers 8. Thematic Structure Motivation for the passive The Grammatical Functions of Topical Themes Textual Themes Interpersonal Themes Thematic progression 9. The semantic nature of Themes A typology of Themes Minor types of Theme Features of the experiment The human element Textual reference Mathematics 10. An Interpersonal coda Ancients and Moderns Epistolary framing Praise Criticism Community Provenance Referencing Appendix 1 Appendix 2