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The Metadiscourse of Popularizing Scientific Lectures: The Case of T.E.

D Technology Lectures

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for ENG 625M: Discourse Analysis De La Salle University - Manila

by: Camille B. Icasiano

The Metadiscourse of Popularizing Scientific Lectures: The Case of T.E.D Technology Lectures ABSTRACT

The study aims to look at the metadiscourse of TED Technology talks and how the speakers popularized scientific and technological concepts. The data consists of eight most previewed talks from 20010-2013 totaling to 40 minutes. Examining a corpus of transcribed texts in TED popular technology and science talks, I attempted to highlight some of the ways speakers manage to display their expertise and interactions with audiences through rhetorical choices which construct both the speaker and the reader as people with similar understandings and goals.
Key Words: Metadiscourse, Popularese, TED Talk , TED technology

INTRODUCTION What do technology and language have in common? More than you might think. TED helped opened the doors to informative talk in spreading ideas from short and powerful talks. The ideas presented on TED are speculative; they represent frontiers in technology, biology, psychology, computer science, cosmology and physics. The greatest pleasure in technology comes first from theories that leads to the solution of small sets of puzzles and principles. Recognizing its power and pervasiveness, teachers in various curriculum areas are now incorporating pop culture and critical media literacy into the curriculum for educational purposes (Edensor, 2002). Students draw on these two elements in social interactions for classroom interactions, and other media devices that seems to inuence talk and literacy actvitiieis, and not just their extracurricular social activities (e.g., Dyson, 1997). The contributions presented at TED talk embrace popular scientific thinking: the speakers presented their thoughts in the most reliable way including fields of inquiry as human behavior in mathematics, economics, and technology. The common thread in TED Technology talks is that a simple and obvious technological innovation is explained in a straightforward and uncomplicated speech. Increasing Hybridity of Genres and the Role of Pop Culture in the Classroom The first and most important step to the genres mixing in the classroom, is when the genre presents the form into which content is put. One key feature of a TED technological talk is the use of strongly narrative storyness. Onega and Landa (1996) observe that narrative creates meaning by noting the contributions that '

actions and events make to a particular outcome and then configures these parts into a whole episode. The detective metaphor is apparent in many episodes of TED Talk. An episode of TED talk beings with a taster laying out the key issues of a problem, followed by a focus on the speakers human and intellectual journey of discovery gathering facts and eliminating alternatives.
This format has been criticized as dumbing down science and chasing rating at the expense of content (Orlowski, 2006). One former Horizon editor, for instance, expressed concern about this narrative emphasis on human stories at tge expense of science and its effect on the series: When the balance between science and human drama was tight, then the results were exceptional.Lynchs prize winning film, Fermats Last Theorem, described as a love story between a man and hs equation, achieved that balance. And mixed in a series with other approaches, it is a valid format. But the extent to which it came to be used and to whch the science often took a secondary role began to change the feel of horizon, compounded by ts weakness n describing the big dead. (Goodchild, 2004)

Case in Point: Context of TED Technology Lectures The discourse of popular science is not simply reporting facts but it eliminates complicated mathematical formulas and details and it explains concepts more thoroughly. iPad Storyteller Joe Sabia introduced the audience to Lothar Meegendorfer , who created a bold technology for storytelling: a pop-up book. Sabia showed how the new technology helped us tell our own stories, from the walls of caves to his onstage iPad.
0:20 Once upon a time in 19th century Germany, there was the book. Now during this time, the book was the king of storytelling. It was venerable. It was ubiquitous. But it was a little bit boring. Because in its 400 years of existence, storytellers never evolved the book as a storytelling device. But then one author arrived, and he changed the game forever. (Music) His name was Lothar, Lothar Meggendorfer. Lothar Meggendorfer put his foot down, and he said, "Genug ist genug!"

0:24 He grabbed his pen, he snatched his scissors. This man refused to fold to the conventions of normalcy and just decided to fold. History would know Lothar Meggendorfer as -- who else? -- the world's first true inventor of the children's pop-up book. (Music) 0:26 For this delight and for this wonder, people rejoiced. (Cheering) They were happy because the story survived, and that the world would keep on spinning.

Excerpt 1- The Technology of Storytelling (TED Talk by Joe Sabia)

The lecture is delivered by Joe Sabia, it is a narrative within a narrative drawing on significant events in history to re-contextualize the present theme or topic of the discussion. This lecture is sort of fairy-tale and is two-fold. First, it becomes a relatable genre, it does not require too much cognitive processing as the structure is familiar to everyone. Second, it amplifies the intention of the presentation the use of storytelling has evolved through the use of media but still holds it salient feature. The clip exposes the structure of a familiar fairy tale version. This talk allows the simplification of concepts to reach its primary audience. English language learners may lack the necessary language skills to interpret the texts may consequently be denied access to the narratives and social networks of their local peers and teachers at shool, at university, and in the workplace (Norton, 2000). METHODOLOGY Framework To address the research questions, the researcher adopted Hylands (2005) Interpersonal Model of Metadiscourse as an analytic framework. Metadiscourse determines evaluative lexis, used to qualify individual items, and stance markers, which provides an evaluative frame for the whole proposition. According to Hyland, (2005), metadiscourse markers serves more than one role ( e.g. a Frame Marker and a Self Mention). For the purposes of this study each metadiscourse marker was only counted only once. The use of metadiscourse markers indicates if the speakers are awareness of the needs of the listener and its audience in an interpersonal and an interactional manner. Hylands (2005) System Specifically, the study aims to (1) analyze metadiscourse used in TED technology dicussions and determine the dominant features (2) and how the speakers were able to popularize of scientific and technological concepts. The focus of this paper on TED Technology talks is not , content-driven learning agendas or Internet linguistic changes but rather determinining the popularization of scientific and technological concepts.

Table 1

An analysis of metadiscourse markers usage was conducted using TED Technology video samples from eight clips collected through 2010-2013. From each discipline, the researcher selected eight most viewed TED Talk. There were 8 videos each group was led by different speakers: Joe Sabia: The technology of storytelling (2010), Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? (2010)Amber Case: We are all cyborgs now (2011), David Pogue: 10 top timesaving tech tips (2011), Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves (2012), Ray Kurzweil: The accelerating power of technology (2012), Pranav Minstry The thrilling potential of Sixth Sense technology(2013), and John Maeda: How art, technology and design (2013). Tone and Style of Delivery in TED Technology Lee (2002) considered coherence that includes the following five features: macrostructure, information structure, propositional relationships, cohesion, and metadiscourse. Macrostructure helps the speaker and its audience to understand how the sentences are related to each other by providing an outline of the main category or function of the text. An example of macrostructure was shown when Salman Khan spoke about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy and presented an argument in a logical manner: first presenting the positive, then the negative aspects, and conclusion.

13:29 So when you talk about self-paced learning, it makes sense for everyone -- in education-speak, differentiated learning -- but it's kind of crazy when you see it in a classroom. Because every time we've done this, in every classroom we've done, over and over again, if you go five days into it, there's a group of kids who've raced ahead and there's a group of kids who are a little bit slower.

And in a traditional model, if you did a snapshot assessment, you say, "These are the gifted kids, these are the slow kids. Maybe they should be tracked differently. Maybe we should put them in different classes." But when you let every student work at their own pace -- and we see it over and over and over again --you see students who took a little bit [of] extra time on one concept or the other, but once they get through that concept, they just race ahead.

And so the same kids that you thought were slow six weeks ago, you now would think are gifted. And we're seeing it over and over and over again. And it makes you really wonder how much all of the labels maybe a lot of us have benefited from were really just due to a coincidence of time.

Excerpt 2 et Us Use Video to Reinvent Education

Excerpt 2 Lets Use Video to Reinvent Education (TED Talk by Salman Khan )

Informational structure offers the audience direction in understanding how information is organized. The speaker, Sherry Turkle, provides old information before giving new information. Turkle studied how our devices and online identities are redefining human connection and communication. The speaker appeared to be sensitive to the needs of the audience and presented background information to the topic of technology and communication.
2:17 Over the past 15 years, I've studied technologies of mobile communication and I've interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, about their plugged in lives. And what I've found is that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don't only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they've quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things.

Excerpt 3 Alone Together (TED Talk by Sherry Turkle)

Coherence is provided in the transcription through propositional connectivity. One way for a speaker to establish connectivity is to develop or support propositions though elaborate details. Cohesive devices ties different sentences together by using pronouns, conjunctions, and lexical devices such as repetition, synonyms, and superordinates.

3:14 Okay, so most of you think of Google as something that lets you look up a webpage, but it is also a dictionary. Type the word "define" and then the word you want to know. You don't even have to click anything. There's the definition as you type. It's also a complete FAA database. Type the name of the airline and the flight. It shows you where the flight is, the gate, the terminal, how long till it lands. You don't need an app for that. It's also a unit and currency conversion. Again, you don't have to click one of the results. Just type it into the box, and there's your answer. 4:15 Shutter lag is the time between your pressing the shutter button and the moment the camera actually snaps. If you pre-focus with a half-press, leave your finger down, no shutter lag! You get it every time. I've just turned your $50 camera into a $1,000 camera with that trick.

Excerpt 4: 10 Top Time-Saving Tech Tips (TED Talk by David Pogue )

The opening paragraph serves as an indication of the Pogues ability to control of the topic and structure of the talk. The speaker immediately started with immediate tips on time saving tech tips: Since the history and introduction of new technologies . . . However, despite the awkwardness of expression, the paragraph offers a reasonable introduction. Pogue statement is clear, it legitimately focus on how to get an airflight result in the quickers way possible in Google and foreshadows a point of view.

RESULT A single-factor ANOVA was used to determine if there was a meaningful difference between the mean number of metadiscourse markers in talk rankings. The statistical analysis showed differences between the mean number of the markers and the talks were significant, F(4,73) =3.06, p = .048 (>.05). The results can be interpreted that speakers used significant increase in metadiscourse markers usage.

Metadiscourse Marker Transition Markers Frame Markers Endophoric Evidentials Code Gloss Interactional Resources Hedges Boosters Attitude Markers

Number 87 80 0 90 51 34 59 22 49

Sample of Metadiscourse from TED Technology Talk Because, and, so, although A long time ago, next, then

They say (Saden), which was.., like this.., known as Probably, What looks like probably, Very much, seems like Luckily, Thank God, All of a sudden

Self Mention Engagement Markers

20 129

I cannot imagine, that is what I see They will never forget the day.

The TED Technology talks showed significant engagement and evidential markers, indicating the speakers knowledge to the material, pointing out what is important and encouraging the audience to be engrossed with the topic. In addition to using hedges to manipulate proximity to an audience and distance from a text, the speakers also reduce their use of explicit attitude. This TED corpus of transcripts contains six expression of attitude every 180 words in technology. The frequent use of hedges therefore marks out a modest and careful researcher trying to keep interpretations close to the data and unwilling to make unfounded claims. Scientists and engineers see their work as far more unsure and refereed than journalists, who take a very different view towards facts. The process of transforming research into popular accounts involves removing uncertainty and upgrading the signicance of claims to emphasize their uniqueness and originality (Shinn, 1985). DISCUSSION Science journalism illustrates that popularizations characterize a discourse which establishes the uniqueness and relevance topics which warrants attention by making the information on TED talks simple, concrete, accessible to its audiences. The popularizing discourse is a consequence of hybridity of genres and demands of the academic community (Ernst, 2004). A good narrative then, has a beginning, a middle, and an end, moving from doubt to certainty and arriving at a resolution. The popularization of TED technological talks rarely find their way into schools and does not carry the same prestige as research colloquium, however as Cloitre and Shinn (1985) suggest, a continuum of genres used in academic communication and popularizations are part of the scientific discourse. There an emerging digital literacy practices of young peopleand it has yet to be discussed and researched upon (Alvermann, 2002) and gather informations as to what thy have learned from the content of the digital literacies they are engaging in (Beavis, 1997, 2002; Gee, 2001; Lankshear & Knobel, 1997; Tapscott, 1998). The purpose of the TED talks lecture is to persuade the audience of the validity of conclusions and the effectiveness of the new technologies at hand. This study showed that popular scientific texts are important in teaching scientic subjects because they are simpler and thus can help students understand the science and technology more. It shows that from popular academic genres they can frame their scientic ideas for a non-scientic audience. It will also enable students to distinguish the popular from the academic register and thus encourages a deeper knowledge of academic scientic register.

We should bear in mind anthropologist Margaret Meads famous injunction: Never doubt a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can chane the world. It is the only thing that ever has. Science and Technology can appear to be philosophical. It is celebrating the act of questioning your own curiosity combined wth critical thinking and fact checking. REFERENCES

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