Second Halliday-Hasan Forum on Language

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Invited Plenary:

Title:  The Language of Engineering English from the Perspective of SFL Register.

Abstract: This paper brings together an investigation of the nature of Engineering in Higher Education with a review of relevant literature and an analysis of the language of Engineering in a corpus of published research articles. It demonstrates the professional and academic diversity of Engineering programmes internationally to establish an understanding of Engineering in Higher Education. It then considers the range of different linguistic perspectives used to examine texts across multiple Engineering genres and disciplines. From these perspectives, it is evident that there are clear differences in the language used across disciplines, genres and contexts in Engineering. This raises the question whether it is possible to describe a shared disciplinary Engineering register in English. To provide answers to this question, a corpus of research articles from three branches of Engineering was constructed using the subject category browsing facility in the corpus generation tool AntCorGen (Anthony 2017). The 7.3 million word corpus consists of texts from four sections (Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results & Discussion, Conclusion) and from over 1,000 articles from the three disciplines of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Corpus analyses examine word frequencies, n-grams and key words in context. These lead to an appreciation of registers of Engineering. The language of Engineering revealed uncovers shared and distinctive features across the three disciplines and the different sections of the article. It also reflects the publication context, where English is used as a lingua franca, where an SFL concept of register reveals how knowledge is construed through high impact, open access journals articles, with multiple author roles, proscribed genres, multimodal texts, and where reviewers are encouraged to focus on problem solving and facts, rather than the persuasive claims of the authors.

Period1 Dec 20173 Dec 2017
Event titleSecond Halliday-Hasan Forum on Language: Registerial Perspectives on Disciplinary English Study
Event typeConference
LocationGuangzhou, ChinaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Register, Engineering, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics