Department of Linguistics and East Asia Subcommittee: Functional Analysis of Science Texts

November 16, 2010

Functional Analysis of Science Texts

Guest Speaker: Ping Liu
Associate Professor, Huazhong Agricultural University, China
Visiting Scholar, Department of Linguistics, CSULB

Abstract: Employing Halliday (2004, 2006) and Halliday and Martin’s (1993) functional approach in discourse analysis, this paper reports on a study of the English textbook used for a bilingual physics course at a university in Shanghai, China. Data consist of two chapters randomly selected for analysis. Instances of nominal constructions in the chapter were identified and analyzed. Drawing on an up-down metaphor, this paper uses the term ‘upward’ movement to refer to “functional recasts” (Mohan and Beckett, 2003) from simpler towards more advanced (more grammatically metaphorical) wording, and ‘downward’ movement to describe functional recasts from more advanced towards simpler wording.

Preliminary results suggest that Chinese bilingual course instructors can make use of the functional analysis to approach English science texts. By making downward functional recasts in their PowerPoint presentations and lectures, they can help bring out the messages packed in nominalizations, mediate students’ difficulty comprehending scientific discourse, and make textbook conceptual meanings more accessible to Chinese students.

Hosted by the Department of Linguistics and East Asia Subcommittee

Snacks and beverages will be provided.