On the Effect of Disciplinary Variation on Transitivity: The Case of Academic Book Reviews
Keywords: academic book reviews, transitivity, disciplinary variation
University for Teacher Education, Tehran
Islamic Azad University, Tehran
Esmat Babaii: Ph.D. in TEFL (Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran), EFL instructor (University for Teacher Education, Tehran, Iran), and assistant editor of the Iranian Journal of Applied linguistics
Hasan Ansary: Ph.D. in TEFL (Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran), EFL instructor (Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran), and assistant editor of the Iranian Journal of Applied linguistics.
The purpose of this study was twofold. First, an attempt was made to systematically characterize Book Reviews (BRs) as an academic written genre in terms of the elements of transitivity system. Secondly, the effect of disciplinary variation on the lexico-grammatical features of this genre was explored. To this end, a corpus of 90 academic BRs from discipline-related professional journals (physics, sociology, and literature) were randomly selected and analyzed. Significant differences were observed in terms of both the type and frequency of processes and participants. This, it seems, points to a difference in the semantic configuration of BRs peculiar to each discipline, although they all seem to fulfill a similar communicative purpose- evaluating knowledge production in the academic milieu. To be more specific, the observed features indicate that BRs in physics journals, as compared to their counterparts in sociology and literature journals, appear to carry a higher percentage of passive construction, non-human concrete participants, and of relational and existential processes, together with a lower percentage of specific human participants; hence, leading to texts heavily laden with grammatical metaphor and impersonality.