Impersonality and grammatical metaphors in scientific discourse: The rhetorical perspective

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Corpus-based research of scientific articles in the social sciences in Hebrew demonstrates different kinds of impersonal constructions characteristic of this genre, among them various uses of grammatical metaphors. An analysis of this data from the rhetorical perspective makes it possible to point to the rhetorical roles performed by impersonal constructions. They serve the ‘rhetoric of objectivity' and the ethos of the credible and uninvolved researcher, and present the research as an entity independent of and separate from the researcher. The author's absence from the cognitive actions that underlie the text, in particular the drawing of conclusions, presents the conclusions as those that any rational reader would draw given the same data. Impersonal constructions involve the reader in the cognitive activities that underlie the scientific paper and create common ground between the writer and reader. Viewed from the rhetorical perspective, grammatical metaphors appear to be rhetorical devices that serve the entire range of goals of the author, as a member of the scientific community.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)103-119
StatePublished - 2010


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