Metadiscourse is the commentary on a text made by its producer in the course of speaking or writing. Here we take an interpersonal perspective, focusing on metadiscourse as a repertoire of resources available for writers to organise a discourse or their stance towards its content or the reader. In this paper we explore whether, and to what extent, metadiscourse has changed in professional writing in different disciplines over the past 50 years. Extending our diachronic work analysing a corpus of 2.2 million words from articles in the top journals in four disciplines, we show there has been a significant increase in interactive features and a significant decrease in interactional types. Surprisingly, interactional metadiscourse shows a marked decline in the discursive soft knowledge fields and a substantial increase in the science subjects.
- Academic writing
- Diachronic change