Astrophysics Titles in Scientific American Magazine (1990-2014): Linguistic and Discourse Practices

David I. Méndez, M. Ángeles Alcaraz


We analyze Astrophysics titles published in Scientific American Magazine in the period 1990-2014 and compare them with Astrophysics titles of specialized journals. Our main results show that titles published in Scientific American are short, clear, direct and with low lexical density and little terminology. They mainly consist in simple and nominal constructions with few adjectives and compound groups. The predominance of nominal compounds and the high number of verbal titles and definite articles imply that popularized science titles mainly deal with global and well-established concepts. Pragmatic and rhetorical strategies are common in Astrophysics Scientific American titles in order to appeal to multiple audiences and invite them to use their cultural background knowledge to grasp at the actual meaning. Although pragmatic and rhetorical mechanisms overlap in some titles, rhetorical devices seem to prevail over pragmatic ones. All in all, however, both types of devices reveal a growing trend over time.



Titles, Astrophysics, Scientific American Magazine, linguistic analysis, discourse practices

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