METM14 presentation

The presence (or absence) of language mediators in the recontextualization of medical scientific discourse

Mª Isabel Herrando Rodrigo, Zaragoza, Spain
The field of identity, or self-representation, in writing has received much attention since the 1990s. The self-representation and visibility of a writer is shaped, for good or for bad, by the relations embedded in a social cannon. Hence, although some scholars state that constructing identity when writing academic papers, translating or editing texts is just a “performance,” others observe that some linguistic and textual choices made by writers in their texts—choices that are imposed or even expected by the generic conventions of the texts—should be interpreted as realizations of the writer’s self. Thus, this presentation aims to raise awareness on the concept of the writer’s voice and the ensuing communicative implications of that voice in a given audience or discourse community. As mediators, editors, translators, and reviewers, we should be aware of the issues involved in transferring the writer’s voice in any text construction process. It is also important for those involved in training writers to bring to their attention the generically constrained choices available to them.

This presentation examines how the formulation of voice in written discourse changes in the process of adaptation of medical research articles to medical electronic popularizations (Med-E-Pops) and how new shape is given to the author’s voice in this newly-created electronic genre embedded in the medical discourse community. Specific attention will be paid to the use made of lexico-grammatical features associated with how writers project their voices.

The results suggest that Med-E-Pops mediators (editors, journalists, and doctors) prefer to project their voices as negligible, bringing the voice of the researchers to the fore. Thus, it can be said that Med-E-Pops writers know how to formulate their voices so as to create objective, neutral, and trustworthy texts despite their role in the reformulation of texts produced by specialists but now targeting a new audience.

Mª Isabel Herrando ( teaches English language at Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Zaragoza, Spain, and holds an MA in Textual and Cultural Studies in English and a PhD in Applied Linguistics. Her research interests include the study of scientific discourse and discourse analysis. She is a member of the InterLAE research group ( and her published papers have appeared in Cambridge University Press, Miscelánea, Tropelías and Journal of the English for Specific Purposes Special Interest Group.