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The Stylistics of Professional Discourse

Martin Solly

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Investigates the stylistics of communication in professional discourse communities

Why are doctors’ prescriptions illegible and why is the language of the law considered impenetrable to outsiders? Is it more difficult for non-native speakers of English than native speakers to access the discourse of professions such as the law and medicine? These are just some of the questions covered by this innovative study, which uses the lens of stylistics to shed light on how the discourse of professional communities is used not just to convey meanings, but also to construct identity and a sense of membership.

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List of illustrations
Chapter One: Language, style and stylistics
Chapter Two: Professional discourse communities
Chapter Three: Stylistics of healthcare discourse
Chapter Four: stylistics of legal discourse
Chapter Five: stylistics of educational discourse
Chapter Six: stylistics, globalization and the new technologies
Chapter Seven: stylistics, pedagogy and professional discourse

About the Author

Martin Solly is Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Turin. His main current research interests are language learning in higher education and specialised discourse in academic and professional settings. He is particularly concerned with the relationship between language and context (institutional, disciplinary, intercultural, community), as well as with how language choice impacts on the construction and representation of identity


Martin Solly elegantly demonstrates that stylistics can reveal how professional groups mark their distinctive identity, with doctors, lawyers and educators providing the model. He deftly draws out the stylistic techniques that can create a sense of shared community, and in the process provides a primer of approaches to analysing discourse.

Professor Michael Kelly, University of Southampton

Covering a wide range of topics, Solly’s volume effectively demonstrates the complexity of stylistic analysis and interpretation in texts... Overall, the book is a valuable source of linguistic research on stylistics, addressing both scholars in applied linguistics and the respectively reviewed disciplines as well as students of stylistics and professional discourse analysis.

- Ines-A. Busch-Lauer, University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau , Linguist List

This volume presents a remarkable primer of stylistic studies... First, Solly has gained abundant experience and expertise in the study of professional discourse, which has enabled him to garner sufficient and authentic data for this volume. Second, various professions are covered and explored, such as health, legal and education. Thus, different facets of the contemporary workplace are examined, along with an exploration of its distinctive stylistic features and patterns, which makes the conclusions more persuasive and valid, and offers valuable insights into stylistic features of professional discourse. Third, though stylistics is not a new topic, Solly promotes a unique perspective by integrating the professional discourse with a social context. This volume is accessible and is highly recommended, especially for students and researchers involved in stylistic studies, discourse analysis and professional communication.

- Danping Wu, Zhejiang University, Discourse Studies