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The beginnings of vernacular scientific discourse: genres and linguistic features in some early issues of the Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions1

David BANKS

Résumés

Le Journal des Sçavans et le Philosophical Transactions se sont créés tous les deux en 1665. Denis de Sallo fonda le Journal des Sçavans en tant que revue de recensements de livres, et comme moyen de diffusion des connaissances nouvelles. La revue recouvrait toute la gamme du savoir humain. Henry Oldenburg fonda le Philosophical Transactions sous l’égide, mais sans le financement, de la Royal Society. Cette revue était basée sur les nombreuses lettres dont il était le destinataire, et se cantonnait aux questions de la « philosophie naturelle ». Cet article considère en détail certains traits linguistiques d’un numéro du Journal des Sçavans (le 9 mars 1665), et un numéro du Philosophical Transactions (le 3 juillet 1665). L’analyse de la transitivité démontre que les procès relationnels et verbaux sont les plus fréquents dans le Journal des Sçavans, tandis que dans le Philosophical Transactions le taux des procès relationnels est du même ordre, alors que les procès matériels sont quatre fois plus fréquents que dans la revue française. L’analyse de la structure thématique montre que le Philosophical Transactions comporte moins de thèmes textuels que le Journal des Sçavans, et, en termes de progression thématique, il utilise un peu plus de liens linéaires et moins de liens constants que le Journal des Sçavans. Une catégorisation sémantique des thèmes révèle que, dans le Journal des Sçavans, les catégories les plus fréquentes ont un rapport avec l’auteur du livre recensé, ou le livre lui-même, tandis que dans le Philosophical Transactions la catégorie la plus fréquente est, sans conteste, l’objet d’étude.

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Historical Background

  • 1  This paper was first presented at the Journée d’études “La production et l’analyse des discours” a (...)

1In the seventeenth century there were basically two ways of disseminating new knowledge. One, fairly obviously was books, but this was a lengthy and costly process. The other was that of letters. Although these letters were sent from individual to individual, they were not really personal letters in the present day sense. It was understood that these letters could, indeed in many cases should, be copied, sent on, read at meetings of intellectual societies, and so on. Networks of correspondence were built up on this basis. The fact of something having been written in a letter could even be used in a priority dispute. It was in this context that the first two vernacular journals of an academic nature were created, both in 1665. The first in the field was the French Journal des Sçavans, which based its content on book publication. This was closely followed by the Philosophical Transactions, based on a network of correspondence.

2The Journal des Sçavans was founded by Denis de Sallo, who was its first editor. He created the journal at the instigation of Colbert, and its object was the dissemination of new knowledge. However, de Sallo’s name does not appear on the issues of the journal, which appeared under the pseudonym of Monsieur de Hedoville, which some believe to have been the name of his valet de chambre. Perhaps this indicates that de Sallo realized from the beginning that the enterprise was not without its dangers. The strange spelling “sçavans” was based on the incorrect belief that the word was derived from the Latin word scire, rather than sapere. The journal was suppressed in 1792, but revived in 1816, and still exists today; since 1908 it has been published by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.

3The first issue of the Journal des Sçavans appeared on 5 January 1665, and thus it constitutes the first academic journal to be published in a vernacular language. It was basically made up of book reviews, or, since many of them are fairly short, perhaps “book notices” would be a more appropriate term. De Sallo’s reviews were frequently marked by biting criticism, and so he quickly acquired a number of enemies. Perhaps more importantly, he was an open supporter of the Gallican church, so he attracted the opposition of the Church of Rome, and particularly of the Jesuits. As a consequence, the papal nuncio used his influence to have the journal suppressed, and it was suspended after only 13 issues. However, it was felt that the Journal des Sçavans did meet a genuine need, and it was reinstated by the end of the year under the editorship of the Abbé Gallois, although Denis de Sallo remained the moving force in the background. The Journal de Sçavans attempted to cover the whole range of human knowledge, including law, theology, and the classics. (cf. Vittu 2002a, 2002b, 2005, Morgan 1928, Lyons 1944, Kronick 1962, 1991)

4The situation in France was complicated by the arrival on the scene of the Académie Royale des Sciences, which was founded in 1666. However, the mémoires of the Académie Royale were not published until much later, in the course of the eighteenth century, from 1723 onwards. Moreover the collegial spirit of the Académie meant that the mémoires were initially anonymous (cf. Gauja 1967, McClellan 2001, Gross et al. 2002).

5The Philosophical Transactions was founded by Henry Oldenburg, who was the hub of a network of correspondence. Although the journal was mandated by the Royal Society, which had been founded in 1660 and received its royal charter in 1662, it was a private venture of Oldenburg himself. Oldenburg was not a virtuoso, a gentleman amateur of independent financial means. He had to earn his living, and his intention was to use the “intelligence” he obtained through his correspondence to produce a bulletin of information which he could then sell and thus augment his income. (cf. Bluhm 1960, Hall 2002, Johns 2000)

6The Philosophical Transactions was thus based mainly on letters received by Henry Oldenburg. Its range was more limited than the Journal des Sçavans, being restricted to the area then included within “natural philosophy”. Oldenburg and other members of the Royal Society were aware of developments in France, and the first issue of the Journal des Sçavans was presented to the Royal Society by Oldenburg on 11 January, only six days after its appearance in Paris. The first issue of the Philosophical Transactions appeared on 6 March, and was made up of items written by Oldenburg himself on the basis of letters he had received. However, by the end of the first year he was printing verbatim wherever this was possible, often supplying a short introduction. He wrote himself where items were too long, providing book reviews, or summaries, or where the item was in another language, so that he had to provide a translation. Seven issues appeared in the course of the first year; it appeared once a month with a break in that year from July to November, when the plague reached London and prevented publication. The Philosophical Transactions still exists today. Thus these two journals were not only the first academic vernacular journals, but are also the oldest (Banks 2009b).

This study

7In this study I intend to use the tools of Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday 2004, Banks 2005) to look at two issues (one each of the Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions) in detail. More specifically, I shall look at them in terms of transitivity and of thematic structure. The issues I shall consider are the Journal des Sçavans for 9 March, and the Philosophical Transactions for 3 July.

8The Journal des Sçavans for 9 March has seven items, of which the headings are as follows:

CODEX REGULARUM, QVAS SANCTI PAtres Monarchis & Virginibus Sanctimonialibus præscripsere. Collectus olim à S. Benedicto Ananiensi Abbate. Lucas Holstenius, Vaticanæ Bibliothecæ Præfectus editit. A Paris, chez L. Billaine, au Palais.

IOSEPHI LAVRENTII LVCENSIS, AMALthea onomastica. Lugduni: & se trouue à Paris chez Fred. Leonard, & au Palais chez L. Billaine.

CONTRADICTIONES APPARENTES Sacræ scripturæ. Collectæ à P. Dominico Magrio Melitensi, Congreg. Orator. In 12. A Paris, Chez Soly, ruë S. Iacques.

DIVERS PLAIDOYEZ TOVCHANT LA CAVSE du gueux de Vernon, & autres sujets. A Paris chez Louis Billaine, au Palais.

RFLEXIONS, OV SENTENCES ET Maximes Morales. A Paris, Chez C. Barbin, au Palais.

LA VIE DE LA SAINTE VIERGE MARIE, mere de Dieu. Par le sieur de Grandual. A Paris chez Pierre Promé, ruë de la vieill Bouclerie.

LETTRE D’VN AMY DE MONSIEVR Patin, sur le Iournal des Sçavans du 23. Fevrier 1665. A Paris chez Variquet, ruë S. Iacques.

9It will be noted that these headings are simply the bibliographical details of the books reviewed, with details of where they can be obtained.

10Codex Regularum is a review of a new edition of a ninth century work, a collection of monastic rules.

11Josephi Laurentii Lucensis is a review of a dictionary of difficult words in the arts and sciences.

12Contradictiones Apparentes is a review of a collection of commentaries bringing out various contradictions, but in particular the question of the dating of the Jewish year.

13Divers Plaidoyez is a review of a legal report of a case of disputed filiation.

14Reflexions is a review of a book of maxims.

15La Vie de la Sainte Vierge is a review of a book of questions relating to the Virgin Mary, and thus is a theological work in mariology rather than the story of her life as such.

16Lettre d’un Ami seems to be, not a letter, but a review of a pamphlet criticizing a review which had appeared in a previous issue of the Journal des Sçavans.

17The Philosophical Transactions for 3 July has six items, whose headings are as follows:

An Account, how Adits & Mines are wrought at Liege without Air-shafts, communicated by Sir Robert Moray.

A way to break easily and speedily the hardest Rocks, communicated by the same Person, as he received it from Monsieur Du Son, the Inventor.

Observables upon a Monstrous Head.

Observables in the Body of the Earl of Balcarres.

Of the designed Progress to be made in the Breeding of Silkworms, and the Making of Silk, in France.

Enquires concerning Agriculture.

18An Account, how Adits and Mines are wrought is an account of a system of ventilation in mines at Liège.

19A way to break easily and speedily the hardest Rocks is a description of an instrument for breaking rocks and instructions for its use.

20Observables upon a Monstrous Head is the account of the dissection of the head of a deformed colt.

21Observables in the Body is an account of the autopsy of the Earl of Balcarres.

22Of the designed progress to be made in the Breeding of Silkworms is a summary of a book in French on silk production in France.

23Enquiries concerning Agriculture is a list of questions which constitute a survey of agriculture by the Agriculture Committee of the Royal Society.

Transitivity

24In Systemic Functional Linguistics the concept of transitivity concerns the relationship between a process type, encoded in the verbal group, and its related participants, which function grammatically as subject or complement (direct or indirect object). A full analysis would also give any attendant circumstances. I use a system which has five process types; these are:

Material process: actions and events of a physical nature.

Mental process: mental events, cognitive, perceptive and affective.

Relational process: attributive identifying and possessive relationships.

Verbal process: communication, spoken or written.

Existential process: statement of existence.

25Each process type has a number of participant roles associated with it.

26For those who are unfamiliar with this type of analysis, the following is the transitivity analysis of the first five clauses of the issue of the Journal des Sçavans:

Il

y a eu

en peu de temps

deux editions de ce liure : l’une à Rome, & l’autre à Paris.

Pro. Exist.

Circs.

Existent

27 -

C’

est

vne collection de toutes les regles des Moines.

Carrier

Pro. Rel.

Attribute

28-

l’Abbé d’Aniane qui en a esté le compilateur,

viuoit

enuiron l’an 820.

Actor

Pro. Mat.

Circs.

29-

qui

en

a esté

le compilateur

Carrier

Attri -

Pro. Rel.

- bute

30-

On

auoit

desia

de luy

Concordia regularum, cum Regula sanctii Benedicti Abbatis Cassinensis publiée par le R. Pere Menard :

Possesser

Pro. Rel.

Circs.

Circs.

Possessed

31The first clause is an existential clause where the existent, deux éditions de ce livre is said to exist. The second clause is an attributive relational clause, where the attribute, une collection de toutes les règles des moines is attributed to the pronoun subject ce, which has the role of carrier. The third clause is a material process, where the Abbé d’Aniane is the sole participant, with the role of actor. This clause includes a rankshifted relative clause, which is itself an attributive relational clause. The fifth clause is a possessive relational clause.

32The following is the transitivity analysis of the first four clauses of the issue of the Philosophical Transactions:

It

is

well

known

to those conversant in Mines

that there is nothing of greater inconvenience in the working or driving, as they call it, of Mines or Adits under ground for carrying away of Water, or such Minerals as the Mine affords, than the Damp, want, and impurity of Air, that occur, when such Adits are wrought …

Phenom -

Pro. M -

Circs.

- ent

Circs.

- enon

33-

there

is

nothing of greater inconvenience in the working or driving …

Pro. Exist.

Existent

34-

as

they

call

it

Verb -

Sayer

Pro. Verb.

- iage

35-

as

the Mine

affords

Possessed

Possessor

Pro. Rel.

36The first clause is a mental cognitive process. Since this clause is an example of extraposition, the content of the knowledge, which has the function of phenomenon, is expressed twice, once in the form of the subject marker, it, and once as the extraposed subject. The minds that hold this knowledge are here expressed in adverbial, and hence circumstantial, form. The following three clauses are all rankshifted within the extraposed subject. The first of these is an existential clause, the second is verbal, and the third is a possessive relational clause.

  • 2  Percentages in Tables are rounded to the nearest integer. Any discrepancies are due to rounding

37The whole of the two issues have been analysed on this basis. Table 1gives the number of finite clauses and their process types for each of the items in the issue of the Journal des Sçavans. Table 2 gives the corresponding percentage2  distributions for easier comparison.

Table 1. Journal des Sçavans: Process types – raw numbers

Fin. Cl.

MAT

MENT

REL

VERB

EXIST

Codex Regularum

53

11

10

22

7

3

Iosephi Laurentii

12

1

-

8

2

1

Contradictiones App.

26

10

2

6

5

3

Divers Plaidoyez

54

6

5

16

24

3

Reflexions

17

1

5

6

4

1

La Vie de la Ste. V.M.

31

2

4

12

10

3

Lettre d’un Amy

81

-

15

23

40

3

Totals

274

31

41

93

92

17

Percentage totals

11%

15%

34%

34%

6%

Table 2. Journal des Sçavans: Process types - percentages

MAT

MENT

REL

VERB

EXIST

Codex Regularum

21

19

42

13

6

Iosephi Laurentii

8

-

67

17

8

Contradictiones App.

38

8

23

19

12

Divers Plaidoyez

11

9

30

44

6

Reflexions

6

29

35

24

6

La Vie de la Ste. V.M.

6

13

39

32

10

Lettre d’un Amy

-

19

28

49

4

38It can be seen in Table 1 that despite a fair degree of variation, relational and verbal process are the two commonest types, accounting for 34% each. In Table 2 it can be seen that relational process is particularly high in the dictionary item (Josephi Laurentii), where it accounts for 67% of the clauses in that item, although it will be noted that the item itself is relatively short (12 clauses). It is least prevalent in the commentaries on contradictions, 23%, which is the lowest in the sample, and in the reply to criticisms (Lettre d’un Ami), where it is 28%. Verbal process is highest, 49%, in the reply to criticism, and in the legal case study, 44%. It is lowest in the item dealing with monastic rules, 13%. Perhaps this is an area where there is no room for discussion! Mental process never accounts for more than 20%, except in the maxims, where it rises to 29%. With material process, dealing with actions and events, only two items stand out: the commentaries on contradictions where it accounts for 38%, and the rules for monks where it accounts for 21%, but overall, it accounts for only 11% of the processes.

39Tables 3 and 4 give the corresponding figures and percentages for the issue of the Philosophical Transactions.

Table 3. Philosophical Transactions: Process types – raw numbers

Fin. Cl.

MAT

MENT

REL

VERB

EXIST

Adits and Mines

72

39

2

20

2

9

A Way to break Rocks

74

31

1

38

2

2

Monstrous Head

34

7

2

23

1

1

The Earl of Balcarres

14

4

2

5

1

2

Breeding Silkworms

115

55

6

34

16

4

Enquiries

68

31

8

27

1

1

Totals

377

167

21

147

23

19

Percentage totals

44%

6%

39%

6%

5%

Table 4. Philosophical Transactions: Process types - percentages

MAT.

MENT

REL

VERB

EXIST

Adits and Mines

54

3

28

3

13

A Way to break Rocks

42

1

51

3

3

Monstrous Head

21

6

68

3

3

The Earl of Balcarres

29

14

36

7

14

Breeding Silkworms

48

5

30

14

3

Enquiries

46

12

40

1

1

40Despite the fact that some of the percentages must be treated with caution due to small raw numbers in some cases, it can be seen that the figures for the Philosophical Transactions display less variation, and are more coherent between individual items than the entries for the Journal des Sçavans. Here, mental and verbal processes are much less important. On the other hand, relational process is of the same order (in fact, slightly more important). However, the major difference is in material process: here material processes are four times more frequent than in the Journal des Sçavans.

41Since relational process is mainly related to description, it would be reasonable to conclude that in both of these issues description is a major concern, accounting for about a third of the finite clauses. In the case of the Journal des Sçavans the other major category is that of communication, represented by the verbal processes, which account for a further third of the finite clauses. This category is however, relatively insignificant in the Philosophical Transactions where it accounts for only 6% of the finite clauses. The major category in the Philosophical Transactions is material process, accounting for 44% of the finite clauses, and showing that physical actions and events are of great importance for the writers of this journal. This is not the case in the Journal des Sçavans, where, as has been pointed out, material process accounts for only 11% of the finite clauses.

Thematic Structure

42Like many other theories, Systemic Functional Linguistics distinguishes between a theme, defined as the speaker’s starting point, and a rheme, which is the development of the theme. The obligatory element in the theme, which will be a major constituent of the clause, is known as the topical theme. This may be preceded by optional interpersonal or textual themes. A theme which is derived from a previous rheme is said to be linear; one derived from a previous theme is said to be constant. The development of themes in the course of a text is known as thematic progression. For those unfamiliar with this type of analysis the following is the thematic structure analysis of the first four ranking clauses (or units of thematic structure) of the Journal des Sçavans sample.

Th1 →Rh1

Il

y a eu en peu de temps deux editions de ce liure … à Paris.

Th. Top.

Rh.

43-

      

Th2 → Rh2

C’

est une collection de toutes les regles des Moines.

Th. Top.

Rh

44-

      

Th3 → Rh3

L’Abbé d’Aniane qui en a esté le compilateur

viuoit environ l’an 820.

Th. Top.

Rh

45In the three ranking clauses the grammatical subject functions as topical theme, and there are no interpersonal or textual themes. The progression of the second and third clauses is linear (indicated by the oblique arrow in the left-hand column).

46The following is the corresponding analysis of the first three ranking clauses of the Philosophical Transactions sample.

Th1 →Rh1

It is well known to those conversant in Mines

that there is nothing … those inconveniences

Th. Top

Rh

47-

     

Th2 → Rh2

which

is, by letting down shafts from the day … for Respiration

Th. Top

Rh

48-

     

Th3 → Rh3

The Expense of which shafts … drawing of water, &c

doth sometimes equal, yea exceed … the whole Adit.

Th. Top

Rh

49Once again, there are no interpersonal or textual themes. The topical theme of the first clause is the extraposition matrix. I have considered that the “which” of the second clause functions like a demonstrative of present-day English, and thus this constitutes a separate ranking clause, with the grammatical subject “which” as topical theme. The third clause also has a grammatical subject as topical theme. Once again, the progression of the second and third clauses is linear.

50Tables 5 and 6 show the incidence of optional themes in the Journal des Sçavans issue, and the Philosophical Transactions issue respectively.

Table 5. Optional Themes – Journal des Sçavans

Ranking Cl.

Textual Th.

Interpersonal Th.

Codex Regularum

23

9

3

Iosephi Laurenti

6

3

-

Contradictiones App.

10

2

-

Divers Plaidoyez

23

10

-

Reflexions

4

1

-

La Vie de la Ste V.M.

5

1

-

Lettre d’un Amy

21

5

5

Totals

92

49

8

53%

9%

Table 6. Optional Themes – Philosophical Trnsactions

Ranking Cl.

Textual Th.

Interpersonal Th.

Adits and Mines

19

6

-

A Way to break Rocks

23

7

-

Monstrous Head

15

10

1

The Earl of Balcarres

11

8

-

Breeding Silkworms

41

8

-

Enquiries

50

12

-

Totals

159

51

1

32%

1%

51The Journal des Sçavans issue has a total of 92 ranking clauses, ranging from four to 23 in individual items. Of these, 53% have textual themes. The Philosophical Transactions issue has a total of 159 ranking clauses, ranging from 11 to 50 in individual items. Of these, 32% have textual themes. Thus the English journal uses less textual themes than the French journal; this may simply be a reflection of the general tendency of English to accept implicit links rather more easily than French does. Interpersonal themes are insignificant in both journals. Although 9% of the ranking clauses in the Journal des Sçavans sample have interpersonal themes, they occur in only two of the seven items.

52Tables 7 and 8 show the incidence of linear and constant progression in the two journals.

Table 7. Thematic Progression – Journal des Sçavans

Ranking Cl.

Linear

Constant

Codex Regularum

23

11

8

Iosephi Laurenti

6

-

6

Contradictiones App.

10

7

-

Divers Plaidoyez

23

14

3

Reflexions

4

2

-

La Vie de la Ste V.M.

5

2

-

Lettre d’un Amy

21

15

4

Totals

92

51

21

55%

23%

Table 8. Thematic Progression – Philosophical Transactions

Ranking Cl.

Linear

Constant

Adits and Mines

19

13

5

A Way to break Rocks

23

17

4

Monstrous Head

15

6

7

The Earl of Balcarres

11

1

8

Breeding Silkworms

41

26

12

Enquiries

50

13

18

Totals

159

76

54

48%

34%

53In the Journal des Sçavans issue 55% of the ranking clauses present a linear link, and 23% a constant link. In the remainder no specific link could be established. The corresponding figures for the Philosophical Transactions are 48% and 34%. Hence the Philosophical Transactions has less linear, and more constant links than the Journal des Sçavans. Linear progression is generally associated with argumentative texts, while constant progression is associated with more descriptive texts. This would indicate that the Philosophical Transactions items tend to be rather more descriptive than those in the Journal des Sçavans. Indeed, major concerns in the Philosophical Transactions are the description of new tools and equipment, and the observation (hence description) of natural phenomena. Despite their public claims, experimentation, in the present-day sense, did not become a major concern until much later (Bazerman 1988).

Semantic classes of themes

54In Banks 2008 I suggested a semantic categorization of topical themes, with 14 categories. A fifteenth category was added in Banks 2009a. An attempt to apply this to these two journal issues shows that nine of these categories are relevant for the present sample. They are:

Obj - the object under study

Exp - an experiment of the experimental process

Auth - references to the author or a group to which he belongs

Oth - references to human beings other than the author

Meta - references to other parts of the same text

Inter- references to other texts

Exist - existential themes

Ment - mental processes or argumentation

Time - temporal references

55Tables 9 and 10 show the semantic categorization of themes for the Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions respectively.

Table 9. Semantic categories – Journal des Sçavans

Obj

Exp

Auth

Oth

Meta

Inter

Exist

Ment

Time

Codex Regularum

-

-

4

6

-

11

1

1

-

Iosephi Laurenti

-

-

-

-

-

6

-

-

Contradictiones App.

3

-

1

1

-

2

1

2

-

Divers Plaidoyez

3

-

-

8

-

3

3

5

1

Reflexions

-

-

1

1

-

-

1

1

-

La Vie de la Ste V.M.

-

-

-

2

-

2

1

-

-

Lettre d’un Amy

1

-

5

4

-

3

1

7

-

Totals

7

-

11

22

-

27

8

16

1

8%

-

12%

24%

-

29%

9%

17%

1%

Table 10. Semantic categories – Philosophical Transactions

Obj

Exp

Auth

Oth

Meta

Inter

Exist

Ment

Time

Adits and Mines

17

-

-

-

1

-

-

1

-

A Way to break Rocks

20

2

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

Monstrous Head

13

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

1

The Earl of Balcarres

6

4

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

Breeding Silkworms

25

-

-

5

2

2

1

-

6

Enquiries

42

-

-

2

2

-

-

-

4

Totals

123

6

-

8

6

2

2

1

11

77%

4%

-

5%

4%

1%

1%

1%

7%

56In the case of the Journal des Sçavans, what has been counted as the object of study is often of a fairly abstract nature. For example, in “Contradictiones” the placing of dates in the Jewish calendar is what is being studied; in the case of “Divers Plaidoyez” it is the facts of this legal case. It should also be pointed out that the author category, which accounts for 12%, is, in this case, frequently the pronoun “on”, which includes the author. The major categories for the Journal des Sçavans are humans other than the author (Oth 24%), which in this case are usually the authors of the works being reviewed, and references to other texts (Inter 29%), which are references to the works being reviewed. In contrast, in the ¨Philosophical Transactions these categories are fairly minimal, Oth accounting for 5%, and Inter only 1%. The distribution is here dominated by the category of the object under study, which accounts for 77% of the topical themes.

57This brings out a striking difference between what the authors in these two journals choose as thematized items. In the case of the Philosophical Transactions it is the object under study; in the Journal des Sçavans, it is authors and their books.

Final remarks

58This study has concentrated on one issue each of the Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions published during their first year of publication, 1665. There is no reason to think that these are not representative of early issues of these two journals in general. It has been shown that relational process and verbal process are the two most common process types in the transitivity patterns of the Journal des Sçavans, accounting for roughly a third each of the processes in the issue. In the Philosophical Transactions, the rate of relational process is of the same order, being only slightly higher; however the rate of material process is four times higher than in the Journal des Sçavans. The analysis of thematic structure and progression shows that the Philosophical Transactions has less textual themes than the Journal des Sçavans, and that interpersonal themes are insignificant in both. The Philosophical Transactions has less linear and more constant links than its French counterpart. A semantic categorization of topical themes shows that the most frequent in the Journal des Sçavans are those related to the books under review and their authors; in the Philosophical Transactions, the commonest category by far is that of the object under study. Thus we can see that choices in terms of genre lead ultimately to differences in the linguistic features used in encoding the discourse. I also hope to have shown, in passing, the power of the tools provided by Systemic Functional Linguistics in the analysis of text.

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Notes

1  This paper was first presented at the Journée d’études “La production et l’analyse des discours” at the Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, 4 December 2009

2  Percentages in Tables are rounded to the nearest integer. Any discrepancies are due to rounding

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Référence électronique

David BANKS, « The beginnings of vernacular scientific discourse: genres and linguistic features in some early issues of the Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions », E-rea [En ligne], 8.1 | 2010, mis en ligne le 21 septembre 2010, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL : http://erea.revues.org/1334 ; DOI : 10.4000/erea.1334

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Auteur

David BANKS

Université de Bretagne Occidentale, EA 4249 HCTI (ERLA)
Professeur
Né à Newcastle-upon-Tyne en 1943, David Banks a étudié la philosophie à l’Université de Cambridge et la linguistique anglaise à l’Université de Nantes où il a obtenu son doctorat avant de soutenir son HDR à l’Université de Bordeaux 2. Il est professeur de linguistique anglaise à l’Université de Bretagne Occidentale, directeur de l’ERLA (Equipe de Recherche en Linguistique Appliquée) et Président de l’AFLSF (Association Française de la Linguistique Systémique Fonctionnelle). Il est auteur ou responsable de 20 ouvrages et a publié plus de 70 articles, publications parmi lesquelles on peut citer The Development of Scientific Writing, Linguistic features and historical context (Equinox 2008). Ses activités extra universitaires comprennent le chant choral et la pratique de l’aviron de mer.

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