Spoken rhetoric

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English has become the lingua franca of the academic world, and its use by non-native speakers is probably more widespread today than by natives. This paper looks into rhetorical patterning in lectures using English as a lingua franca and compares it to native speaker rhetoric. The model adopted as a point of departure, the Clause Relation Theory (Winter 1977; Hoey 2001), is originally constructed for written text description, but on account of its interactive character suits spoken monologue analysis surprisingly well. Monologue structuring is here approached as argumentative (or “logical”) as well as rhetorical patterning. The argumentative structures turn out to be constructed on the basis of causal relations and an alteration of concrete examples with general principles. In the rhetorical patterning, repetition and rephrasing were made much use of. This was true of the extracts quite independent of whether the speakers were using English as a native or a foreign language. Academic English as a lingua franca seems to reflect a deeply international, not a specifically Anglo-American rhetorical culture. Rhetorical analyses of written text are in large part based on a synoptic view of text, whereas spoken discourse demands a linear, “dynamic” approach; yet the emerging patterning is essentially similar. It is therefore argued that both could be analysed in terms of the same models, which ought to be fundamentally linear.


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