Two key linguistic features of academic language


“Language is thinking and thinking is language and the rest is silence.” (Wittgenstein)


“What can be described can be taught.” (Mary Mason)


Two very different aspects of the features of academic language are taught in The Language of Ideas:


  1. The first is a description of the words used in academic language. These are the words which make possible the concepts which are the subject matter of academic language (the language of ideas). It is derived from Mary Mason’s description of abstract language.
  2. The second is a description of the discourse structures (language above the level of the sentence). This is derived from Michael Hoey’s early work On the Surface of Discourse (1983)


There are many other linguistic features of academic language, some well known (like the passive voice). However, by explicit teaching of the words and discourse structures students’ success in academic examinations and tests can be dramatically improved. (Click for examples)