In the 39th AESLA (Asociación Española de Lingüística Aplicada) conference, which took place in the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) during the days 27th-29th April, our colleague Rosa Lorés talked about the processes of recontextualization in digital research digests from a pragmatic point of view. Scientific blogs such as research digests make use of a variety of strategies to communicate expert knowledge to a diversified audience for dissemination purposes. Rosa Lorés explored a corpus of research digests to identify the different pragmatic strategies that writers make use of.
The full abstract of Rosa Lorés talk can be consulted as follows:
Engaging diversified audiences: pragmatic strategies in the recontextualization of expert knowledge in digital dissemination discourse
Strong demands are now being placed on scientists to increase public awareness of the impact their findings might have in society and to facilitate understanding of what might be rather complex disciplinary knowledge. This involves recontextualizing highly specialized knowledge to be understood by diversified audiences, that is, by audiences with different levels of (non)expertise. The dissemination of disciplinary knowledge on digital platforms is a field of study which has certainly drawn much attention (Herring et al. 2013; Bartling & Friesike 2014; Bondi et al. 2015; Gross & Buehl 2016; Banks & Martino 2019; Luzón & Pérez-Llantada 2019).
Studies have tended to focus on the reformulation of ideas for popularizing purposes. However, not so much attention has been paid to the pragmatic functions and strategies that recontextualization brings about while mediating expert knowledge for more heterogeneous audiences on digital media. A pragmatic approach which feeds on the verbal mode in combination with digital affordances may help identify these dissemination strategies (Bondi & Cacchiani 2021).
In the present study, processes of recontextualization from a pragmatic perspective will be explored in digital research digests in terms of the strategies used by knowledge mediators to interact with a wide readership. Digital digests are condensed versions of published research articles and, as scientific blogs, aim at making scientific research understandable by potentially less expert audiences, using the authority of science for multiple, diversified audiences that vary a great deal in their level of expertise (Gotti 2014, Zou & Hyland 2019).
To fulfill this aim, a corpus of 20 online research digests drawn from the British Psychological Society website (https://www.bps.org.uk/) is explored, revealing the projection of a hybrid identity which aligns neither with the expert nor with the audience, but which manages to weave both into a unique voice. Two different sets of pragmatic strategies that writers use are identified: expert-oriented, which enhance the writer’s authorial voice (i.e. “marking expertise”, “claiming credibility and authority”) and audience-oriented (i.e. “entertaining the audience and making the information appealing” or “providing understandable answers to complex questions”). The identification of pragmatic strategies is based on the use of stance and engagement markers (Hyland 2005; Tannen & Trester 2013). Thus, as regards expert-oriented strategies, the quotation of expert voices by means of hypertexts stands out as one main way of giving evidence of specialized disciplinary knowledge and projecting credibility and authority onto the text. Moreover, the reference to everyday situations and icons of popular culture are resources used to fulfill audience-oriented pragmatics strategies. It is the combination of these two types of strategy that gives shape to the hybrid voice of the scriptwriter.
On the whole, this paper intends to show how the recontextualization of expert discourse for digital dissemination purposes should go beyond the study of it as a process of linguistic reformulation and widen the scope to incorporate a pragmatic interpretation of digital interaction.
Recontextualization, pragmatic strategies, digital discourse for dissemination purposes, expert knowledge, diversified audiences
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