The effects of revolution and war on academic discourse, 1785-1835

Abstract : The Académie Royale des Sciences ceased publication of its Mémoires after 1786, and resumed (though no longer Royale) in 1798. The Journal des Sçavans ceased publication in 1792, and did not reappear until 1816. In its volume for 1785, the Académie Royale published 50 items in its Mémoires. In the decades which followed France was to undergo the trauma of the French Revolution, followed by the disruption of the Napoleonic Wars. Fifty years later, in 1835, the Mémoires of the re-established Académie des Sciences contained only 12 items. In comparison, the Philosophical Transactions published 25 items in its issues for 1785. England was obviously not directly affected by the French Revolution but it was by the Napoleonic Wars. The issues of the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1835 contain 22 items. The Journal des Sçavans appears to have continued the more generalist approach it had established by the beginning of the 18th century, with over 60% of its items relating to subjects outside the scientific area, and hence this publication will not be considered further here. The study looks at a sample of texts from the 1785 and 1835 issues of the Mémoires and the Philosophical Transactions to see to what extent, if any, the language of science altered in French and in English over this turbulent period. It transpires that the number of differences is less than might be expected, though rather more in the Philosophical Transactions than in the Mémoires. It is hypothesized that in times of great difficulty, academic writers tend to be conservative, and consequently the evolution of language is relatively slow. The theoretical background of the study is Systemic Functional Linguistics, and linguistic features such as thematic structure and process type are considered.
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Journal articles
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Submitted on : Monday, August 26, 2019 - 10:05:46 AM
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David Banks. The effects of revolution and war on academic discourse, 1785-1835. Textes et Contextes, Université de Bourgogne, Centre Interlangues TIL, 2018, 13:2. ⟨hal-02270598⟩

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