Beyond the boarders of the speech communities: Construction of identity as a ‘member’ of the ‘global’ academic discourse community
Hatice Çubukçu (Çukurova University)
While English has become “the lingua franca of the whole world”, it has also been the major defining feature of the ‘global’ academic ‘discourse community’. Discourse community as a socio-rhetorical contruct, may be defined as “a group of individuals bound by a common interest who communicate through approved channels and whose discourse is regulated”(Porter,1986:38). “A threshold level of membership” to a discourse community, according to Swales(1990, 1992), requires “suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise” along with the shared norms and values. (also see. 1983; Bizzell,1990; Miller, 1993).
It is vital for the researcher to become a member of the global academic discourse community, since otherwise, and his/her recognition as a scholar is at stake. This issue has motivated a substantial amount of research investigating the nature of the rhetorical structures of the published academic texts, However, the investigation of the oral communication in academic conferences, panel discussions etc., which would be complementary in understanding the nature of the global academic discourse community, has largely remained out of the focus of attention,
Accordingly, this study attempts to describe how the academics belonging to different speech communities claim and try to construct identities as a ‘member’ of the global academic discourse community, through various linguistic strategies they employ during academic conferences.
The constructivist view of ‘identity’ suggests that ‘identity’ is discoursively created. As Ochs(1993:296) states “at any given actual moment, interactants are actively constructing their social identities in all types of discourse, rather than passively living out some cultural rescription of social identity”. Research on natural examples of family talk, workplace interaction, school meetings etc. (eg.Tannen, 2007; Ochs,1993; Schiffrin, 1996; Gordon,2007) have also evidenced that construction of identity is a collaborative work achieved through negotiation between the interactants.
The data in this study comes from 3 international conferences in the field of Linguistics, namely, 9th IPRA 2005(1); 3rd OID, 2006(2) and the 13th.ICTL(3). Data comprising of a total of 85 questions and comments from the audience (recorded by the researcher) were analyzed following Tannen (2007), in terms of linguistic strategies categorized as ‘social acts’ and ‘stances’ reflecting socially recognized views or affective attitudes all of which create different alignments and footing (Goffman, 1981); between participants and between participants and topics of talk towards constructing an identiy.
We have concluded that while speakers make comments on the academic presentations, ask questions, issue criticisms, challenge, or praise…etc. in the course of the complex multi- layer interaction, simultaneously, they claim identities as members of the global academic discourse community, through a series of ‘social acts’ and ‘stances’
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1 IPRA:International Conference of Pragmatics Association, (Florence,Italy),
2 OID: International OID Conference on Discourse Organization (Turku,Finland)
3 ICTL:. International Conference on Turkish linguistics (Uppsala, Sweden).