Author: Wong, Shuk Han Alicia
Title: Popularization of science through the 'visible scientists' : a corpus-driven study of discursive construction and realization of the nobel laureates' scientific achievements
Advisors: Ho, Victor (ENGL)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2021
Subject: Technical writing
Corpora (Linguistics)
Discourse analysis
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xiv, 249 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The 'visible scientists', including the Nobel Laureates, are iconic and have long been leaders of science (Goodell, 1977). By studying Nobel Prize popular science articles, this thesis investigates the language choices made by scientists when promoting science and connecting scientific knowledge to society. Two genres of popular science articles are studied: the 'Nobel Laureates Biographical' (the NLB corpus), which is prepared by the Nobel Laureates, and the 'Popular Information' piece (the NPPI corpus), which is prepared by the prestigious science institution conferring the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Nobel Prize corpora were also compared to a corpus of popular discourse: the Corpus of American English 2006 (the AME06 corpus). This corpus-driven study covered not only the conventional approach of key word search, but also the keyness-differences analysis at part of speech and semantic domain levels using the corpus computation tool Wmatrix4. The quantitative analysis was supplemented by a qualitative concordances analysis of key items for a better understanding of the relationship between language choices and their contexts of use. The thesis revealed that the Nobel Prize corpora promoted the Nobel Laureates and their discoveries as 'progressive and beneficial to society' (Bucchi, 2008, p.60), which he described as typical for the popularization of science. With extensive use of the 'social languages' of the academic and research communities, the narratives were perceived as more similar to scientific writings than general writings.
Drawing on marketing and rhetoric/communication disciplines ('deficit paradigm' and metadiscourse for facilitating the making of persuasive appeals), the thesis looked into the scientist's use of themes and rhetorical devices to promote the Nobel Laureates and their discoveries. The investigation revealed the coherence of these three aspects in the Nobel Prize corpora: 1. The branding of Nobel Laureates and their discoveries took the personal development frame in the NLB corpus and the achievement frame in the NPPI corpus. If compared to the AME06 corpus, the branding of the Nobel Prize corpora took the positive role model frame which highlighted the 'success' and 'change' themes. 2. The two genres of the Nobel Prize corpora, whether considered separately or taken together (as compared to the AME06 corpus), followed the deficit paradigm (Trench, 2006) to adopt a paternalistic view of communication from the scientist (a positive role model) to the lay reader. 3. There were preferences for the use of attitude markers and self-mentions in the NLB corpus and code glosses in the NPPI corpus to facilitate the making of credibility and rational appeals, respectively, which were in line with the branding frames of the respective discourse. Taken together, the Nobel Prize corpora showed preference for the use of transitions to facilitate the making of rational appeals for the dissemination of positive messages. Individual scientist's preference for themes and rhetorical devices in his/her narratives for the popularization of science may vary, but it is recommended that these three aspects should not be treated as independent components.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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