Lay readers in the Q&A column in a popular science magazine


  • Min-Hsiu Liao Heriot-Watt University


Although studies on science popularization in recent decades have emphasized its difference from other science writings in its expert-lay configuration, and claim that the communication is not only a one-way simplification of knowledge but a two-way interaction, studies on this genre focus almost exclusively on the discourse of the experts. This paper bridges the gap by investigating how the lay public interact with expert scientists in order to explore how the public perceives their role and the scientists’ role in science popularization. The data is drawn from the Q&A column in an influential science magazine in Taiwan, and linguistic strategies used in making requests for answers are analysed. Moves in questions over three decades are analysed, and the findings reveal that the changing attitudes towards science and scientist have had an impact on how the public interact with the experts.

Author Biography

Min-Hsiu Liao, Heriot-Watt University