Features of Academic Writing
Introduction – Exercise
This paper examines interaction in written text through the interplay between the notions of text averral and attribution (Sinclair, 1988). Text averral is evidenced in the unmarked parts of the text, where the utterances are assumed to be attributed to the author. Attribution, the counterpart of text averral, is the marked case where the sources of authority are clearly signalled.
It is hoped that this study will add to our knowledge about the characteristics of different types of text, and illuminate the way for students who find themselves lost amidst the echoes of the multiple voices they hear within the same text.
Text averral and attribution are basic notions for the organization of interaction in written text. The assumption is made that the author of a non-fictional artefact (Sinclair, 1986) avers every statement in his or her text so long as he/she does not attribute these statements to another source – whether that source is other or self. Averral is manifested in various ways in the text – negatively, through absence of attribution, and positively, through commenting, evaluating or metastructuring of the discourse. Attribution, on the other hand, is signalled in the text by a number of devices of which reporting is an obvious one.
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