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Lexical Processes in Scientific Discourse Popularisation

A corpus-linguistic study of the SARS coverage


Christiane Brand

In today’s informed society, the news media have taken it upon themselves to provide the general public with information that is technical in nature and was previously restricted to the scientific discourse community. This popular presentation of scientific or technical facts is of particular interest to the corpus-based study of Language for Specific Purposes (LSP). The characteristics of the specific domain texts, e.g. medical journal articles, are perceived as a potential barrier to communication by the layman and this linguistic barrier must be lowered by awareness of and adaptation to the communicative competence of the general audience. Using corpus-linguistic methodology, the present study focuses on processes on the word level, placing special emphasis on collocations and semantic prosodies. On the basis of the findings of the corpus analysis, a comprehensive model of lexical popularisation is sketched out.
Contents: Scientific discourse popularisation – Special languages – Science journalism – Lexicology and terminology – Corpus linguistics – Corpus compilation and design – Quantitative and qualitative corpus analysis – Collocations – Semantic prosody – Lexical priming.