Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1566-5852
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9854
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This paper investigates the evolution of the linguistic means used by scientists to convey academic conflict in French and English medical discourse. The 185-year span studied (1810–1995) was divided into nine 20-year periods. The rhetorical strategies expressing academic conflicts were recorded in 180 papers and classified as direct or indirect. The results were analyzed using χ2 tests. Between 1810 and 1929, no cross-linguistic difference was found in the frequency of either direct or indirect academic conflict. Between 1930 and 1995 direct academic conflict was more frequent in medical French than in medical English (p = .013), and indirect academic conflict more common in medical English than in medical French (p = .0001). Qualitatively speaking, nineteenth-century medical French and medical English academic conflicts were personal, polemical and provocative. Regarding twentieth-century academic conflict, medical French conflicts tend to remain personal and categorical whereas medical English academic dispute is characterized by its politeness and/or the shifting of conflict responsibility onto some inanimate entity. Our study indicates that the intellectual climate in a given scientific discursive community influences the rhetoric of conflict.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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