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The Language of Popularization- Die Sprache der Popularisierung

Theoretical and Descriptive Models- Theoretische und deskriptive Modelle


Giancarmine Bongo and Giuditta Caliendo

In today’s knowledge-based society, exploring the dynamics of communicating specialised contents to the lay public is an undoubtedly topical issue. However, popularization still remains a rather unexplored territory and recent contributions to the field seem to lack a consistent methodological orientation, with hesitations in terms of shared and codified definitions. The contributions to this volume constitute a step forward in the field of popularization studies. New scenarios have been explored with a view to providing shared theoretical and descriptive models from a linguistic perspective and investigating the way popularization is characterised and instantiated, also taking into account its intercultural dimension. The research methods and tools draw upon the analytical framework of discourse analysis, pragmatics, corpus linguistics and genre analysis.
In der heutigen Wissensgesellschaft sind die Mechanismen des Transfers von Fachwissen an Laien von großer Relevanz. Dennoch bleibt Popularisierung ein linguistisch noch relativ unbestimmtes und unerforschtes Phänomen. Ziel des Bandes ist deshalb, neue Perspektiven zu eröffnen und auf mögliche neue konsistente Modelle (sowohl theoretische als auch methodologische) hinzuweisen. Unterschiedliche Ansätze kommen dabei ins Spiel, u.a. Diskursanalyse, Rhetorik, Pragmatik, Korpuslinguistik und genre analysis.
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The popularization of science in web-based genres: Giuditta Caliendo



This paper looks at the newly developed Knowledge Dissemination genre of TED talks, short popularizing speeches aimed at a non specialist audience and presented by experts in their field, often top level academics. These informative and insightful talks are made freely available on the web by TED, a non-profit organisation, and involve a wide variety of domains, ranging from the humanities to science and technology. The study mainly aims to identify whether, and to what extent, this genre differentiates itself from previously investigated forms of popularization, with specific reference to the way: TED speakers position themselves in front of the multiple audiences (co-present and on-line); specialised knowledge is ‘mediated’ and made accessible by means of personal narrative, anecdote and humour. The TED corpus collected for the purpose of statistical analysis exceeds three million tokens. It is examined with reference to aspects such as argumentation, rhetorical structures and discourse organisation, drawing on the methods and instruments of corpus linguistics, textual linguistics, pragmatics and genre analysis. More specifically, the study refers to Hyland’s (2010) concept of “proximity” to understand how TED speakers draw on different discoursal conventions to claim solidarity with their audience and manage their level of expertise. In order to do so, we look at how TED speakers employ the following discourse features: Organisation; Argument structure; Credibility; Stance; Audience engagement.

Popularization is a process consisting in a set of discursive-semiotic practices in which specialised knowledge is mediated for the layman (Calsamiglia/van Dijk 2004). This...

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