Engineering Registers in the 21st Century: SFL perspectives on online publications

Sheena Gardner, Xiaoyu Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Following an exploration of engineering programmes in higher education, and a review of literature on engineering registers, genres and disciplines, this paper asks if there is a register for engineering. Word frequencies, n-grams and frequent n-grams in context were analysed in a 7.3 million word corpus created from four sections (Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results & Discussion, Conclusion) of over 1000 articles in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. From systemic functional linguistics (SFL) perspectives, this reveals how engineering is construed through language that reflects the social context of high impact, open access, multi-modal, 21st century, international journal article publication, with multiple author roles, and prescribed genres, where reviewers focus on problem solving and facts, rather than persuasive claims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-101
Number of pages39
JournalLanguage, Context and Text: The Social Semiotics Forum
Issue number1
Early online date4 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
EventSecond Halliday-Hasan Forum on Language: Registerial Perspectives on Disciplinary English Study - Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China
Duration: 1 Dec 20173 Dec 2017


  • academic English
  • engineering register
  • corpus linguistics
  • systemic functional linguistics (SFL)
  • research article genres
  • English as a Lingua Franca
  • online publication contexts


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