Knowledge-stating verbs and contexts of accountability in linguistic and literary academic discourse
Journal article, 2008

In academic communication, the notion of accountability is central, because academic discourse essentially involves the communication of knowledge – knowledge for which someone must assume accountability. This paper considers the use of knowledge-stating verbs in knowledge statements. It investigates the accountability contexts (High accountability, Medium-to-High accountability, Medium-to-Low accountability and Low accountability) for seven knowledge-stating verbs in order to ascertain if different knowledge-stating verbs appear in different kinds of accountability contexts. The verbs investigated are argue, claim, suggest, propose, maintain, assume and believe. The empirical basis for the investigation comes from two different academic disciplines, linguistics and literary studies, and the investigation also addresses the issue of whether the knowledge-stating verbs considered appear in the same or different accountability contexts across the two disciplines. The conclusions to be drawn on the basis of the investigation are that (i) individual knowledge-stating verbs do feature in different kinds of accountability contexts, but (ii) there is little evidence to the effect that there should be any significant differences between linguistics and literary studies with respect to the accountability contexts associated with the individual knowledge-stating verbs.


Hans Malmström

Chalmers, Applied Information Technology (Chalmers)

Nordic Journal of English Studies

1654-6970 (ISSN)

Vol. 7 3 35-60

Subject Categories

Languages and Literature

General Language Studies and Linguistics

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