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The paradigmatic hearts of subjects which their "English" flows through

Pilcher, Nick; Richards, Kendall


Kendall Richards


Much research into the use of corpora and discourse to support higher education students on pre-sessional and in-sessional courses champions subject specificity. Drawing on the work of writers such as Bakhtin (1981) and Voloshinov (1973), in this article we extend this research by showing how the specific subject ‘context’ is fundamentally linked with the ‘English’ used within it. We first detail some of the literature related to corpus and genre studies and discuss some of the literature related to the importance of providing a context for language. We then present and discuss data from 21 interviews and 5 focus groups with subject lecturers to illustrate how the ‘English’ used in the subject areas of ‘Design’, ‘Nursing’, ‘Business’ and ‘Computing’ subjects flows through what we term their ‘paradigmatic hearts’. By ‘paradigmatic heart’ we mean the set of values, beliefs, and perceptions that represent the central or innermost engine of the subject, through which its ‘English’ flows. In ‘Design’ the paradigmatic heart is ‘visual’, ‘philosophical’ and ‘persuasive’; for ‘Nursing’ it is ‘emotional’ and ‘empathetic’, yet also ‘technical’; for ‘Business’ subjects it is ‘income generating’, ‘numerical’ and ‘persuasive’; and for ‘Computing’ it may be ‘visual’, ‘numerical’ or ‘code-based’. We demonstrate how ‘English’ flows through the paradigmatic heart of its subject and that to remove the ‘English’ from its subject paradigmatic heart changes its nature. Thus, we argue that if students are not being taught ‘English’ in the context of the subject, the ‘English’ we are teaching them will be different, and that preparation and support needs to be undertaken in the subject itself.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 24, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 8, 2016
Publication Date 2016
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2015
Publicly Available Date Aug 9, 2017
Print ISSN 0729-4360
Electronic ISSN 1469-8366
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 5
Pages 997-1010
Keywords English; corpus; genre; pre-sessional; in-sessional;
Public URL
Contract Date Sep 28, 2015


The paradigmatic hearts of subjects which their ‘English’ flows through (70 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Higher Education Research and Development on 08 February 2016, available online:

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