Accessibility and Acceptability in Technical Manuals

A survey of style and grammatical metaphor

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<i>Accessibility and Acceptability in Technical Manuals</i> is written for an audience with a general interest in readability studies, linguistics and technical writing. With the main emphasis on technical manuals the book is primarily targeted at those who have a special interest in the design and use of utility texts and how these texts are received and understood by a multifaceted audience. Accessibility is not a new research area and many explanations have been offered over the past years as to why non-experts often have difficulties in comprehending texts written by technological experts. This book offers a new approach to accessibility studies by exploring not only style, but also attitudes to style, by asking text consumers which style they prefer for different parts of the manual. A key role is played by the Systemic Functional Linguistics' notion of grammatical metaphor, a stylistic choice that is commonly used in technical literature. Grammatical metaphor — although apparently obstructing the comprehension process of some readers — is a common element in the preferred style that separates the ‘insiders’ from the ‘outsiders’. An explanation of this rather surprising result is offered by resorting to Critical Discourse Analysis.

Subjects: Discourse studies; Communication Studies

  • Affiliations: 1: Aalborg University

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