Rhetorical incompatibilities in academic writing: English versus the Romance cultures

Karen Bennett, Laura-Mihaela Muresan

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A survey of the many English academic style manuals on the market (Bennett 2009) has shown a remarkable consistency across disciplines and genres as to the qualities required in English Academic Discourse. These include characteristics such as clarity, economy and precision; an emphasis upon rational argument supported by evidence, with an avoidance of ‘dubious' persuasive techniques; and a general restraint with regards to claims made.
This contrasts sharply with the traditional scholarly discourse of the Romance cultures (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian), which is characterised by a taste for ‘copiousness’, manifested by a wordiness and redundancy; a preference for a high-flown erudite register (including complex syntax, lexical abstraction, etc); a propensity for indirectness (the main idea is often embedded, deferred or adorned at all ranks); and the extensive use of figurative language and other forms of subjectivity.
This paper looks in more detail at these differences from the point of view of the translator, editor, writing instructor or non-native English speaker (NNES) author. A contrastive approach is used to suggest ways in which some of the more intransigent problems might be overcome in practice, stimulating discussion about the ethical, ideological and identity issues involved in radical domestication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-119
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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