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English as a Lingua Franca in research articles: the SciELF corpus

L'anglais lingua franca dans les articles de recherche : le corpus SciELF
Elizabeth Rowley-Jolivet
p. 145-158


The aim of this research note is to introduce a new corpus that became freely available to researchers in 2016, the WrELFA corpus (Written English as a Lingua Franca in Academic Settings). WrELFA is the written component of the ELFA project directed by Anna Mauranen at the University of Helsinki; the spoken component of ELFA has been available since 2008. WrELFA consists of 1.5 million words drawn from three academic text types: unedited research papers (SciELF corpus), PhD examiner reports, and research blogs. The authors of the texts are academic users of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), and the texts have not undergone professional proofreading or checking by an English native speaker. As one of the international team of contributors to the SciELF sub-corpus, I will focus on this component of WrELFA, which comprises 150 research articles written in English by authors from ten different L1 backgrounds. To illustrate the interest of SciELF for research and ESP training, a brief analysis of enabling verbs (allow, enable, permit) is presented.

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Full text document will be published online on March 2018.


1. Introduction: English as the Lingua Franca of academia
2. Brief overview of ELF corpora
3. The WrELFA corpus
3.1. Research blogs subcorpus
3.2. PhD examiner reports subcorpus
3.3. SciELF subcorpus
4. Enabling verbs in SciELF
5. Interest of ELF corpus data for ESP

First lines

1. Introduction: English as the Lingua Franca of academia

Since the Second World War, English has become the lingua franca (ELF) of many domains, ranging from business to international politics to academia, and the globalization fostered by the rise of internet and new media has accentuated this development. The number of non-native speakers of English now greatly exceeds the number of native speakers. It is estimated for example, that fewer than one out of every four users of English in the world is a native speaker of the language (Crystal 2003), and as a result most interactions in English now take place in intercultural contexts, among non-native speakers of English or between native and non-native speakers. For ELF users, English is a means to communicate with speakers of another language worldwide, and not, or seldom, a means to achieve cultural and linguistic integration in an English L1 society. In this respect, the definition of ELF adhered to by the majority of researchers ...

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Bibliographical reference

Elizabeth Rowley-Jolivet, « English as a Lingua Franca in research articles: the SciELF corpus », ASp, 71 | 2017, 145-158.

Electronic reference

Elizabeth Rowley-Jolivet, « English as a Lingua Franca in research articles: the SciELF corpus », ASp [Online], 71 | 2017, Online since 01 March 2018, connection on 21 January 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/asp.4987

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About the author

Elizabeth Rowley-Jolivet

Elizabeth Rowley-Jolivet is a research member of the Laboratoire Ligérien de Linguistique at the University of Orleans, France. Her research interests cover multimodality in spoken and written scientific discourse, the epistemology of science, genre analysis of academic discourse, web-mediated genres, and English as a Lingua Franca in academic settings. She has published in several international journals, compiled or contributed to several corpora in ESP and ELF, and co-edited books in these areas.

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