Neurons and Nebulae: Metaphor in Popular Science Texts

    Activity: Conference/talk/lecture/symposium/speech/workshop, etcEvent organized by HKBU


    People often think that scientific discourse is – or, at least, should be – free of metaphor. However, this is not in fact the case: specialist scientific terminology is largely metaphorical in nature, and science authors use metaphor either to explain difficult ideas or because that is the only way to talk about a particular concept or idea. Also, popular science authors utilise it for more striking communicative purposes, talking, for example, about ‘DNA bar coding’ and ‘gene-editing systems’ , or describing a star as a ‘battleground’.

    Metaphor is deeply rooted in thought, and there is even evidence that it can help shape the direction in which scientific research advances. The way in which metaphorical expressions recur, cluster and combine can affect their overall impact. What’s more, in an international publication such as Scientific American the manner in which these metaphorical expressions are translated into other languages such as Chinese can be of great interest.

    In this workshop, we will share with you some ideas about how scientific metaphor works, illustrating them with plenty of examples of metaphorical expressions that we have found. Later on in the session we will stage a more participatory activity to enable you to engage more closely with some of these, for example by thinking of what might work best as possible Chinese equivalents for them.

    Number of attendees (for events)

    Period1 Apr 2023
    Event titleHK SciFest 2023
    Event typeFestival
    LocationHong KongShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionLocal