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"Knowledge is no more important - Надежда Рябцева


^ "Knowledge is no more important
than the way in which it is presented"
M.Clyne Basic assumptions
To spread their ideas and results scientists have to translate their papers into foreign languages, preferably into English. There are many advantages to self-translating one's own scientific papers. The main one is that because the best way to translate is ostensibly to translate "by ideas", but not "by words" or "by sentences", the "author" of a scientific text should be the best renderer of its ideas into another language. But, then, of course, the author has to overcome a psychological and linguistic barrier, as academic writing in a foreign language requires certain communicative knowledge, such as the ability to combine words idiomatically. A good translation should sound idiomatic, in order to imitate the linguistic competence of a native speaker. This task is not easy. A native speaker has a subconscious "feel" for how to combine words properly, an implicit knowledge that cannot always be consciously explained (Chomsky 1986, 25). A native speaker produces discourse collocations without paying attention to their lexical interdependency. It's much more difficult for a foreigner to do the same at the outset: he should first do it consciously. From an interlinguistic and translation point of view, the greater majority of word combinations in discourse turn out to be idiomatic, – as they can't be translated word by word. In Russian, for example, we don't t a k e a bus, but "sit on it", we don't go to bed, but "go for sleeping", and so on. Intralinguistically such expressions are not considered to be idiomatic, but interlinguistically they are, for they are not literal translations of each other. Lexical co-occurrence hasn't become yet a matter of persistent and systematized presentation in dictionaries and foreign language teaching (Smadia 1989, 163). The BBI practice is only the beginning in this are (Benson e.a. 1986). Still less attention is paid to "scientific phraseology".

Writing scientific texts is an intricate task even in the native language. Doing it in a foreign language is twice as difficult (Riabtseva 1991). Academic writing style differs drastically from all other kinds of literature: its contents and language are inseparable. Scientific writing is, to some extent, science itself; it is a means of doing science properly. Writing science is an obligatory, and integral part of science. That's why "Knowledge is no more important than the way in which it is presented" (Clyne 1987, 238). The purpose of an academic paper is to introduce new scientific knowledge. Its rhetoric is a linguistic/ textual device to assist the reader in understanding and accepting this knowledge. Knowledge and language combine in the rhetorical organization of a scientific discourse. The effect of their combination is to manifest valid scientific reasoning communicatively. This implies logical progression in thought and a recursive textual structure. Rhetorical organization helps delineate the author's thoughts and line of argument and induce acceptance of the ideas he is offering. It is the primary instrument for converting scientific research into scientific communication.

An academic paper is not a chronological, or even logical account of scientific research. Research is usually done intuitively, with interruptions, bifurcations, and circular regressions. Scientific writing, on the contrary, is a recursive, progressive and cumulative exposure of how new scientific knowledge is reasonably developing out of facts, arguments, and theories. The rhetorical organization of scientific discourse is of a unique, distinguished, and peerless character because it creates a cognitive chain or progression of thoughts and ideas. It is supported by explicit causal relations between propositions, conceptual cohesion between scientific notions, and prospective succession of thought (as opposed to their intersection). A recursive textual structure develops through explicating "the plot", contrasting its constituents, and associating them with the main idea. Cognitive progression is the effect created if the author consciously selects, assembles, and associates the appropriate linguistic means of presenting the contents. As R.Day (1979, 97) comments, "the writing will almost take care of itself if you can get the thing organized". All epistemic operations over text organization are realized in the text by metadiscursive expressions and collocations, or their functional equivalents, formal and conceptual. Rhetorical organization creates cognitive progression of the contents either explicitly or implicitly, formally or conceptually. But more often it combines all the possibilities. Linguistically these possibilities are derived from metadiscourse elements, whose prototypical objective is to expose, explicate, organize, and bind the propositional contents of discourse.

Every scientific text, from a rhetorical point of view, has a "textual" and a "metatextual" part. There are propositional contents, dictum, representing scientific knowledge, and the characteristic mode of "wrapping" it up (Crismore 1989). Disciplinary terminology, constituting the dictum part, comprises less than one-quarter to one-third of all the words used in a scientific paper. The rest of the words are mostly of a metadiscursive character. The better part of them are not registered in dictionaries, though they are highly idiomatic: to adopt an approach, to meet constraints, to extract information, to advance a distinction, to cover a problem, to introduce a notion, and so on. It is much easier for a scientist to translate his disciplinary terminology than to translate metadiscourse collocations. They, not the terminology, are the main barrier that prevents foreign scientists from writing their papers in English.

Metadiscourse elements in academic style are communicatively obligatory, as they participate in organizing a rhetorically appropriate "scientific plot", to explicate the cognitive progression of ideas. They are also axiologically relevant, because they serve to evaluate the contents. Scientific metadiscourse is comprised of metacommunicational, metalinguistic, metatextual, and metascientific – epistemic – expressions, and modal, logical, and other operators. They all facilitate text production and promote text perception. They are the main means of text organization. They identify and qualify propositional contents in the text, cohere and structure scientific accounts, and explicate the progression of thought or line of argument (Techtmeier 1990).

From a translation point of view one of the most important problems is to expose the phraseological realization of metadiscourse and propose ways to translate them. Most metadiscourse collocations are idiomatic word combinations that can't always be translated literally. The reason is that they are a result of the subconscious metaphorization of a mental world and implicit conceptualization of cognition, e.g., to come/ go to the theatre - to come/*go to a conclusion.

It is not accidental that most discourse collocations are idiomatic. Their idiomaticity is "meaningful" because it is conceptually grounded and motivated. Our mentality is organized conceptually, and this conceptual organization can be traced in the way how words c o m b i n e with each other in discourse. Conversely, lexical co-occurrence in discourse exposes conceptual organization of mentality. Every language reflects the mentality of its speakers and their cultural/ national environment. Different cultures can think in different ways about processes, events or phenomena, leading to culturally variable concept systems (Vendler 1972, 112). Common cultural traditions often lead to similar conceptual systems, but they never coincide completely. That's why a Frenchman may say *I made attention at, instead of I paid attention to, translating word for word his native expression Je fais attention a (qch.) (Smadia 1989, 164).

There are several ways philosophers discuss the conceptual organization of mentality. George Lakoff speaks of "folk theories", Eleonor Rosch talks about prototypes. All such notions have much in common and complement each other. They involve images, common sense, categorization, and motivation as an instrument in explaining interdependences between language and mentality (Lakoff 1986; Rosch 1975). Scientific metadiscourse collocations are the result of metaphorical categorizations of a mental world. This categorization involves several conceptual patterns, motivating various lexical co-occurrences in scientific metadiscourse and resulting in numerous different phraseological collocations. The main patterns of conceptualizing are the metaphors "brains are eyes", "cognition is hard (physical) work or a struggle", "knowledge is a plant", although there are some other patterns (Riabtseva 1990).

The metaphor "brains are eyes" creates a perceptive image of science and cognition. It develops through such expressions as to observe a tendency, to show/ trace/ scan a problem, to demonstrate/ display an approach, to review a theory, to throw light on the question, a blurred concept, a bright idea, a vague meaning, etc. Such collocations are motivated by the existing connections between perception and cognition. In different languages this conceptual pattern generates similar, but not identical collocations. For example, in Russian we can say "to look at the meaning", "to glance at the principles", etc.

The metaphor "cognition is hard work or a struggle" reflects a dynamic image of science, presenting it as a hard route that should be traversed from beginning to end and as a struggle against difficulties. It is also seen as "mining", "digging", and extracting something important out of deep layers and bringing it to the surface, or, alternatively, as building or constructing something high, solid, and strong. Such a dynamic conceptualization of science gives birth to numerous collocations, such as to build a theory, to come across unexpected problems, to supply arguments, to hit upon an idea, to accumulate knowledge, to follow the author's way of thinking, to shake beliefs, a direction of thoughts, a rough idea, a deep understanding.

Such collocations are motivated by the fact that cognition is hard mental work consisting of numerous intellectual operations. In different languages this conceptual pattern generates similar but not identical expressions and word combinations. For example, in Russian we can say "to build a chain of thoughts", "to deepen cognition and understanding", "to brake an opinion", "to go beyond the limits of a widespread belief", "the edifice of science", "to return to the idea", etc.

The metaphor "knowledge is a plant,» reflects a "biological" interpretation of cognition and science. It is implicitly present in such expressions as a mature theory, a fruitful hypothesis, the roots of the theory, to generate an idea, among others.

There are many ways to metaphorize cognition and present it textually as if it were a physical or visible process. This is the most common practice in the subconscious conceptualization of abstract and imperceptible phenomena, generally characteristic of mentality and, accordingly, common to all languages. Most of these metaphoric constructs are used in scientific metadiscourse subconsciously in the form of idiomatic metadiscourse expressions, e.g., to venture/ entertain/ hand down an opinion (idea); to proceed on the hypothesis/ theory/ concept; to provide a basis for a theory; to supply/ put forward/ present an argument. When translating a scientific paper one should realize that such patterns can't be translated word for word, but ought to be "restored" in the target language according to similar conceptual patterns. It this way the author enters another conceptual world, switches to another conceptual system. In Russian, for example, we say "to open a law", but in English the law is discovered.

^ Computer Implementation
All the considerations sketchily laid out above were a background to support the argument for compiling an expert computer system Version. The purpose of the system is to assist non-English-speaking scientists in writing or translating their papers into English. It provides linguistic assistance, helping the scientific writer "to package" disciplinary information in appropriate metadiscourse idiomatic expressions and collocations. It also assists in organizing the narrative of the scientific text and promotes stylistic skill in explicating scientific reasoning and the inference structure of the argument. Version provides three types of information on metadiscourse collocations characteristic of the academic style: grammatical, lexical, rhetorical.

The G r a m m a t i c a l module provides assistance in combining words idiomatically according to the grammatical peculiarities of English verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs; it provides special assistance in choosing the correct prepositions, verbal adverbs, or derivatives, e.g., to pass ON to consider a problem, to come TO a conclusion - to arrive AT a conclusion, etc. The L e x i c a l module helps the user to idiomatically combine words and choose discourse collocations and patterns characteristic of the English academic style, e.g., to meet a necessity, to span the gap, to adopt an approach, to discuss at length, severe/ conventional constraints, etc.

The R h e t o r i c a l module helps users to introduce, discuss, and infer scientific knowledge and to choose communicative patterns for logical text organization, e.g., The purpose of the present paper is to outline P; It should be pointed out [immediately] that P; P may be objected; Consider a different approach; We shall place constraints on P; We are going to describe direct approaches to the problem P; It proved to be informative that P; In conclusion, P; It is reasonable/ important to point out that P; This method appears to be relevant to P; etc.

The metadiscourse lexicon in Version is organized in patterns by form and into classes by meaning, to provide easy access to the linguistic information. The patterns use the alphabetic characters X, Y, and P as “place holders” for the (terminological) nouns or dictum propositions that would occur in a scientific text. All the collocations, phraseological units and discourse patterns, included in the system, were extracted from original English texts of various scientific disciplines. All of them are typical of the English academic style.

This software for processing "scientific collocations" is meant for use in self-translating scientific papers into English. Its operation is multi-directional; there are a number of access paths to one and the same item – grammatical, lexical, or rhetorical. The operator interacts with the system in the form of dialogue; he chooses and calls up the required list when he wants to check which grammatical form can be used for the item in question, with what modifiers and “lexical functions” it can be used, or what collocations are most appropriate at the present step of reasoning.

To improve the ability of the software to assist in self-translation, it was used in translating abstracts and summaries. All its failures to provide assistance, and all unanswered queries were registered and classified. Changes were made to the software to account for any recorded deficiencies. It is and will be open for extension.


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