Abstract: The elusive concepts underlying the word genre offer different alternative conceptions. This may produce confusions but identifying the theoretical frameworks help in understanding the possible preliminary doubts of the novice. Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), New Rhetoric (NR), Semiolinguistics (SL), Communicative Procedural Text Linguistics (CPL), Interdisciplinary Text Linguistics (ITL), and Genre Analysis (GA), among others, are all theoretical propositions that represent options to be explored. In this paper, a discussion of the contemporary conceptions of discourse genre will be presented. My own perspective will also be a particular focus, but with special emphasis on findings from empirical data. The research is based upon the largest available on-line corpus (58 million words) of written specialized Spanish on four disciplines: Psychology, Social Work, Industrial Chemistry, and Construction Engineering. The corpus was collected in one Chilean university and the corresponding professional settings. The corpus description shows that access to disciplinary knowledge is constructed through a varying repertoire of written genres depending on disciplinary domain and on academic or professional field. Psycholinguistic and educational implications are advanced in relation to knowledge acquisition, discourse genres and reading comprehension.
Keywords: Specialized discourse. Written genres. Academic discourse. Professional discourse. Corpus linguistics. Electronic corpora.