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The Role of Illustrations in Popularizing Medical Discourse

Alida Maria Silletti


This article deals with illustrations in popularizing medical discourse. This visual tool can be considered as a strategy of paraphrasing, since popularizing journalists simplify and make information more explicit by using other semiotic information related to the main scientific content. A comparable corpus composed of the online versions of two American, two French and two Italian magazines of science popularization has been analysed. The role of illustrations, as well as their usefulness in terms of comprehension of the text, has been highlighted through a socio-terminological approach (Gaudin 2003). As far as a typological distinction of the illustrations is concerned, a Peircean classification has been adopted (Fisette 2009; Lathene-Da Cunha 2013). A number of observations emerge from the comparison between the magazines, per type and per language: the article shows that, while some illustrations contribute to a better intelligibility of the article’s content, others influence readers’ sensitivity.


popularization; scientific discourse; illustrations; Peircean classification; comparable corpus

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2015-002-sill


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

Referee List