Scientific Publishing in English for Non-English-Speaking Academicians: Does Non-English Mean Unscientific in Academia?

Scientific Publishing in English for Non-English-Speaking Academicians: Does Non-English Mean Unscientific in Academia?

Eda Başak Hancı-Azizoglu (Mediterranean (Akdeniz) University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7772-0.ch015
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The majority of scientific research in the world is published in English. The chapter expands the discussion on English as a lingua franca a step further to initiate a discussion on English as a scientific lingua franca. English as a scientific lingua franca poses a significant challenge for the non-Anglo-Saxon scholars by disregarding their data sets and research unless the research is written in academic English with culturally determined rhetorical conventions. This chapter investigates why different cultures have tendencies to write in culturally affected writing styles and forms. Toward that end, the chapter shows how the failure to give proper attention to other rhetorical styles results in losing crucial intellectual information from the non-Anglo-Saxon scholars. With this in mind, the chapter offers short-term solutions for academicians to join in the scientific world despite possible language barriers.
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Those who think that “primitive” languages still exist invariably associate them with societies that laypeople refer to as “primitive”—especially the very few remaining bands of hunter-gatherers. There are of course differences in cultural complexity between hunting-and-collecting bands and small tribal societies, on the one hand, and modern industrial societies, on the other, but no human beings today are “primitive” in the sense of being less biologically evolved than others. One would be justified in talking about a primitive language only if referring to the language of, for example, the extinct forerunner of Homo sapiens of a half million years ago. Even though we do not know on direct evidence the nature of the system of oral communication of Homo erectus, it is safe to assume that it must have been much simpler than languages of the past several thousand years and therefore primitive in that it was rudimentary, or represented an earlier stage of development (Stanlaw, Adachi & Salzman, 2017, p. 4).

Linguistically and logically speaking, no other language is superior to another language, which means all languages are capable of conveying same messages no matter which language family it is coming from, or what kind of script it is using. It is not surprising; however, some monolingual communities, deliberately or unconsciously, yet quite mistakenly suppose that one language can be superior to another one (Blackedge, 2000). It is true that language gets lost in translation across cultures, but this doesn’t signal any inferior semantic forms that prevent people from communicating in more or less complex linguistic forms. Linguistic competence allows people, whether they are native English speakers or multilingual speakers, the ability to understand and function in additional languages (Denham & Lobeck, 2013).

By the above-described linguistic definition that is supported by Kaplan’s (1966) statement in his famous seminal work; the necessity to give proper attention to each and every language around the world seems obvious. On the other hand, it still continues to be a general misconception in monolingual communities to assume that any student who can write a readable essay can also write a similar quality of an essay in a second language without extensive background education and science specific academic training (Kaplan, 1966).

The English language and its related thought patterns have evolved out of the Anglo-European cultural pattern. The expected sequence of thought in English is essentially a Platonic-Artistotelian sequence, descended from the philosophers of ancient Greece and shaped subsequently by Roman, Medieval European, and later Western thinkers. It is not a better nor a worse system than any other, but it is different. (Kaplan, 1966, p. 3)

It should be noted that it is not only the linguistic differences that prevent effective writing within a second or additional language. Apart from essays, scientific writing has a language of itself, which is often referred as academic writing. The examination of the delicate nature of scientific publishing by non-English speaking scholars around the world can reveal what sort of challenges, other than language related ones, are interfering the growth of scientific development in parts of the world that are not considered as Anglo-Saxon. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a non-Anglo-Saxon perspective on writing first considering the dominant status of English language within scientific communities and then exploring the culturally different writing styles by answering the following research questions:

  • Is scientific writing in English better than scientific writing in other languages?

  • How is scientific publication affected by English only policies across the globe?

  • How are non-English speaking scholars affected by English only scientific writing policies?

  • Is there a solution for the above-mentioned issues?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Lingua Franca: A common language that is used among speakers of various languages for trading, diplomatic, or communication purposes.

Uncertainty Avoidance: Refers to the level of stress that derives from fact of unknown future.

Long vs. Short-Term Orientation: Associated with the preferences for spatial perception and society’s efforts towards achievement within cultural settings.

Individualism vs. Collectivism: The level of involvement in groups.

Power Distance: Offering solutions to human inequality within cultural settings.

Masculinity vs. Femininity: Distribution of emotional roles between genders from a cultural perspective.

English as a Scientific Lingua Franca: English as a common language for scientific publishing among scholars of the world.

Constrictive Rhetoric: Comparison of argumentative writing across cultures with the intend to suggest one rhetorical style’s dominance over another one.

Indulgence vs. Restraint: Associated with the level of cultural approval for fulfillment of life and happiness.

Contrastive Rhetoric: Comparison of argumentative writing across cultures.

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