The language of science : A systemic-functional perspective

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguages for Special Purposes
Subtitle of host publicationAn International Handbook
EditorsJohn Humbley, Gerhard Budin, Christer Laurèn
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Chapter18
Pages345-363
ISBN (Electronic)9783110394658, 9783110228014
ISBN (Print)9783110228007
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameDe Gruyter Reference

Abstract

Over the course of history, as the need arose for more powerful and abstract theories of experience, humankind has relied on the power of language ‘to reconstrue commonsense reality into one that imposed regularities on experience and brought the environment more within our power to control’. The source of that power in language lies in its potential for grammatical metaphor.

Grammatical metaphor in scientific discourse is described as ‘a steady drift towards things; and the prototype of a thing is a concrete object’. Examples of grammatical metaphor include length, which is ‘a junction of (the quality) “long” and the category meaning of a noun, which is “entity” or “thing”', and motion, which is ‘a junction of the (the process) “move” and the category meaning, again of a noun’. With grammatical metaphor, the scientist can make the world stand still, or turn it into one consisting only of things, or even create new, virtual realities.

We will also explore how the features of scientific English have developed over time, evolving to meet the needs of the experts, giving them enormous power over the environment, but at the risk of alienating learners and turning science into ‘the prerogative of an elite’.

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

The language of science : A systemic-functional perspective. / WEBSTER, Jonathan James.

Languages for Special Purposes: An International Handbook. ed. / John Humbley; Gerhard Budin; Christer Laurèn . De Gruyter Mouton, 2018. p. 345-363 (De Gruyter Reference).

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review