International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 10 Issue 2 (December 2000), Pages 163-291

The role of figurative language in introductory science texts (pages 163-186)

The article examines the role of figurative languages (tropes) – specifically, analogy and metaphor, reification and simile, personification and animation – in two introductory‐level science texts. Contrary to popular opinion, figures such as personification and animation play an important role, actually more important than analogy, in the presentation of material. The article examines dominant metaphoric themes – such as war and hunting, family and other relationships – and the specific topics they are associated with; e.g., immunity, DNA, evolution, and certain cell functions. It also analyzes some of the linguistic and discourse patterns used in various figures of speech: for example, the use of markers – verbal and typographic – to indicate that an upcoming word or phrase is being used metaphorically; or the use of extended figures of speech, and the interaction of various tropes in treatments of different scientific topics. It closes with several suggestions on the use of figurative language in teaching science.

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