The purpose of this study is to investigate disciplinary variation in academic writing, focusing in particular on the use of adjective patterns followed by prepositions. The analysis proceeds through a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of these patterns in two large corpora of authentic texts. The analysis focuses not only on the specific adjectives found in the patterns themselves, but also on collocations within and around each pattern. The empirical focus of the study will be on two ‘soft-applied’ disciplines (Becher and Trowler 2001), applied linguistics and business studies, as represented by two corpora of research articles drawn from 16 leading journals in each field. Comparison of the results for each corpus shows that there are many differences in form and meaning between the two disciplines: it is argued that the features revealed by my analysis are indicative of the epistemological characteristics of these two different disciplinary discourses. These differences reveal the particular culture and norm of applied linguistics and business studies
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