The Language of Popular Science

Analyzing the Communication of Advanced Ideas to Lay Readers


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SKU: 9781476672533 Categories: , ,

About the Book

If you read (or write) popular science, you might sometimes wonder: how do the authors manage to make subjects that once put you to sleep in science class both so entertaining and approachable? The use of language is key.
Based on analyses of popular science bestsellers, this linguistic study shows how expert popularizers use the voices and narratives of scientists to engage readers, demonstrating the power of science and portraying researchers as champions of knowledge. By doing so they often blur the lines between nonfiction and fiction, inviting readers to take part in thought experiments and turn ordinary scientists into omnipotent heroes.

About the Author(s)

Olga A. Pilkington is an assistant professor of English at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah.

Bibliographic Details

Olga A. Pilkington
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7253-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3560-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: Popular Science 4
1. A Linguist Looks at Popular Science 17
2. Personal Narratives 44
3. Narratives of Discovery: Explanation Made Easy 59
4. Narratives and Ideology: What’s in a Structure? 70
5. What They Say: Speech of Scientists 91
6. What They Imagine Is Possible: Thoughts of Scientists 106
7. Literature and Limericks: Writing in Popular Science 115
8. Definitions: Types and Methods 122
9. Interacting with Readers through Definition 135
10. The Fictionalized Reader 150
11. Lab Lit: Fictional Science 156
Conclusion: Professional Science and Popular Science 164
Epilogue 172
Sources 179
Index 187

Book Reviews & Awards

“Using anecdotes and insightful analysis, Pilkington (Dixie State Univ.) explores the linguistic and narrative techniques of those writing in the popular science genre, as well as the factors that motivate their writing. … Written from sociological and literary perspectives, this is a very readable and interesting book. …recommended”–Choice