Abstraction & Authority in Textbooks
The Textual Paths Towards Specialized Language

By Agnes Edling
December 2006
Uppsala University Press
Distributed By Coronet Books
ISBN: 9155466001
206 pages, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
$57.50 paper original

During a few hours of a school day, a student might read textbook texts which are very different when it comes to abstraction. Abstraction is a central figure of specialized language and the transition from everyday language to specialized language is one of the most important things formal education can offer students. That transition is the focus of this thesis. This study introduces a new three graded classification of abstraction. The investigations performed show that texts from different subject areas display distinct patterns of abstraction.

The results also show that the degree of abstraction in the textbook texts increases in later grade levels. A secondary aim of the thesis is to develop the understanding of the relationship between author and reader in the texts. From time to time, abstraction is described as a feature that hinders students accessing texts. However, a democratic view of education and school mandates that children and adolescents have the opportunity to encounter and learn to encounter specialized language in school. In analyzing the texts special attention is paid to the relationship between the texts, the contexts of use and the student readers.

Language Studies

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