Vague language in conference abstracts

Joan Cutting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study examined abstracts for a British Association for Applied Linguistics conference and a Sociolinguistics Symposium, to define the genre of conference abstracts in terms of vague language, specifically universal general nouns (e.g. people) and research general nouns (e.g. results), and to discover if the language used reflected the level of completeness of the abstract (whether the ldata was collected or analysed). It was found that half the authors had not completed the analysis and some had not finished collecting their data, and that the abstracts mostly consisted of introduction and method moves. Vague language is part of the conference abstract genre as used by all authors. The function of general nouns appeared to be a matter of 'convenience' or 'anticipation'. Abstracts of less complete research contained open references to the incompleteness of the research, but the universal general nouns implication, resource, thing and problem appeared to 'disguise' the incompleteness, as did the clusters of research general nouns with no details about the research. It is considered that EAP lecturers guiding early career researchers will benefit from this description of vague language in the conference abstract genre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-293
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


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