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Review of  The Language of Business Studies Lectures


Reviewer: Brandon C Loudermilk
Book Title: The Language of Business Studies Lectures
Book Author: Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Sociolinguistics
Book Announcement: 19.1066

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Review:
AUTHOR: Crawford Camiciottoli, Belinda
TITLE: The Language of Business Studies Lectures
SUBTITLE: A corpus-assisted analysis
SERIES: Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 157
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
YEAR: 2007

Brandon Conner Loudermilk, Department of Linguistics, University of California,
Davis

SUMMARY
In the eight chapters that comprise this volume, Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli
presents a well-written, engaging analysis of a keystone genre of the MBA
discourse community - the business studies lecture. Of interest to language
researchers, discourse analysts, as well as the members of the business
community itself, this volume takes the reader from the conception of this
multi-year project through its successful conclusion, carefully detailing all
the methodological and analytical steps along the way. In the introductory
chapter, after underscoring the increasing importance of this understudied
genre, Crawford Camiciottoli briefly reviews some of the pedagogical pros and
cons of the ever-common university lecture format. This is followed by the
research aims that guided the study:

1) How does the language of business studies lectures reflect the spoken mode?
2) How do the lectures use language to interact with audiences to facilitate
learning?
3) How do the lectures reflect the disciplinary and professional orientations of
the community of practice?
4) How do the lecturers exploit the visual and gestural models modes for
instructional purposes?
5) How do the spoken, academic, disciplinary and professional dimensions
converge in the lectures? (p.5)

The second chapter provides a conceptual framework for the study by presenting
an overview of related literature. Specifically, Crawford Camiciottoli frames
the business studies lecture genre at the convergence of several broader
discourses: spoken, academic, disciplinary (i.e. the field of economics), and
professional (i.e. the world of business). Much of the discussion of spoken
registers reviews the work of Halliday and others working within the systemic
functional linguistics tradition. This is followed by a review of more recent
corpus-based approaches to the study of spoken discourse. Transitioning to the
section on academic discourse, Crawford Camiciottoli briefly recaps some of the
key studies in this field before presenting some of the diverse methodological
orientations to the study of academic discourse. The section on disciplinary
discourse examines the notions of specialized discourses and disciplinary
variation before reviewing studies that specifically address economic discourse.
The chapter concludes with a short review of professional business genres before
contextualizing the business studies lecture at the intersection of these four
interconnected discourses.

Crawford Camiciottoli’s third chapter addresses the methodological concerns of
her study, including the design and analysis of the business studies lecture
corpus (BSLC). The BSLC was specifically designed to represent the type of
lectures international business students are likely to encounter in their
studies. Crawford Camiciottoli compiled her micro corpus of twelve transcribed
business lectures to balance a number of variables including L1/L2 student
population, native/non-native and male/female lecturers, and large/small
classroom settings. In order to aid the analysis, the primary corpus was
complemented with two additional corpora: the business studies text materials
corpus (a collection of written business texts) and the multi-disciplinary
lecture corpus (a more general collection of spoken lectures from a wide variety
of academic disciplines). Methodologically, the corpus analysis was supplemented
with more ethnographic methods including behavioral observations and participant
feedback.

Chapter 4 is devoted to aspects of the business lectures that correspond to
spoken registers in general. Interested in issues of L1/L2 speech accommodation,
Crawford Camiciottoli examines a wide array of variables. Because of their
importance to L2 listener comprehensibility, the chapter extensively examines
speech rates, lecture styles, discourse dysfluencies (such as false starts and
pause fillers), and reduced lexical forms. Crawford Camiciottoli also devotes
sections to expressions of vagueness, syntactic ellipsis, non-restrictive
which-clauses, as well as lexical density.

Chapter 5 continues this investigation by examining the academic dimensions of
business studies lectures. The chapter opens with a brief discussion of
discourse structuring - how speakers organize and structure their discourse in
order to guide listeners through their lecture. Crawford Camiciottoli follows
with an examination of lecture macrostructure, paying attention to
organizational features such as problem  solution and claim  justification
patterns that emerge in the lectures. This is followed by a treatment of macro-
and micromarkers and their importance in L2 lecture comprehension. The section
on evaluation examines how speakers express their attitudes and opinions through
lexicogrammatical choices. This includes the use of relevance markers to aid in
expert-to-novice communication as well as affect markers to heighten the sense
of speaker-to-audience rapport. The chapter concludes with sections devoted to
the use of questioning in business studies lectures and audience responsiveness
and feedback.

The sixth chapter examines the intersection of disciplinary and professional
discourses in the business studies lectures genre. A key aspect of economics
discourse - one which finds its way into the lectures - is the transitioning
between real and hypothetical worlds. Crawford Camiciottoli finds this plays an
important pedagogical role by allowing students to “hone in” on specific points
without distraction of “real world knowledge.” Using the corpus analysis tools
provided by Wordsmith Tools, Crawford Camiciottoli examines the use and
distribution of specialized lexis in the lectures. Key word analysis among the
three micro-corpora is extended by examining broader connections to business
English in general. The chapter concludes by addressing an aspect of discourse
that is particularly problematic for L2 students, the use of metaphoric language.

Chapter 7 moves beyond the realm of spoken discourse and run-of-the-mill corpus
analysis to address the visual modality. Crawford Camiciottoli begins by
exploring the role of visual aids in lecture comprehension. She examines the use
and distribution of visually presented textual, quantitative, graphical, and
figurative information and compares these features between the BSLC and the
written business texts corpus. After reviewing the relevant literature, Crawford
Camiciottoli tackles the issue of nonverbal communication. Specifically, she
examines the realization of interpersonal episodes and nonverbal behaviors such
as gaze, hand gesture, body posture, proximity to audience, and lecturer
movement within the classroom space. Crawford Camiciottoli closes the chapter
with a detailed microanalysis of a single lecturer’s nonverbal classroom behavior.

The eighth and final chapter returns to address the original research aims that
guided this study. The chapter opens by exploring the impact of the spoken
dimension on the business studies lecture genre. Crawford Camiciottoli examines
how spoken dysfluencies hinder L2 comprehension as well as how individual
lecturers attempt to address the needs of their audience through discourse
structuring strategies and alternative methods. After briefly discussing some of
the methodological insights of this study, Crawford Camiciottoli concludes by
resituating the business studies lecture genre at the intersection of spoken,
academic, disciplinary, and professional discourses.

EVALUATION
On the whole, I feel Crawford Camiciottoli presents an interesting and
accessible analysis of the business studies lecture genre. Using an approach
that neatly illustrates the utility and advantages of micro corpora analysis,
the merits of this volume are many. Rather than relegating the lit review to a
single chapter, Crawford Camiciottoli intersperses her review throughout the
book, aptly addressing the needs of individual chapters. Insightfully and
carefully, Crawford Camiciottoli details her methodological approach and
addresses some of the limitations and common pitfalls corpus researchers are
likely to encounter in their analyses. Importantly, this volume demonstrates how
standard corpus linguistic approaches to discourse can be extended by more
ethnographically oriented methodologies that shed light on nonverbal modalities.
This book will undoubtedly be of interest to corpus researchers, novice and
expert alike, who wish to complement their research with alternative methodologies.

ABOUT REVIEWER
Brandon Loudermilk is a doctoral student of linguistics at the University of
California, Davis. His research interests include neurolinguistics,
sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, and second language acquisition.