Pathos and metaphor in English academic discourse: Graduate students' response to uses of rhetoric in the introductions to published articles.
Other conference contribution, 2011
Figurative and metaphorical language not only acts as a vehicle between the mind and the body, but actually reflects important aspects of human cognition, often charged with affective and emotional values. The prominent role that metaphors have in academic communication as vehicles for structuring knowledge and cognition has been widely acknowledged. Metaphors however also function as a powerful communicative and rhetorical device in academic writing, as they convey pathos and help establishing a persuasive appeal with the audience. Thus, the perceptive aspect of metaphorical academic language, especially from the point of view of students learning the basics of academic discourse, merits further attention. How do L2 students of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) respond to the metaphorical language used in published academic texts? Combining concepts from metaphor theory and genre analysis, this small-scale study observes graduate students' reactions to metaphorical language used to perform a typical rhetorical function in the introduction to academic articles: establishing a niche. Students were presented with two introductions from articles published in Applied Linguistics, differing in their use of metaphorical language. They were asked to choose the excerpt they considered more persuasive, and to explain their choice. The results are discussed in terms of the role that metaphors may have in academic communication and the teaching of EAP.