La scrittura dei fisici
| STUDI DI SOCIOLOGIA - 2008 - 1
This paper contributes to studies on the social use of written communication by analysing
the relationship of physicists with writing. It addresses issues with particular regard to the
debate on whether or not the language used by scientists is comparable to literary language.
The basic idea is that in literary writing images are always only comments on the text, an interstitial
part of the message. Instead, when the text becomes a commentary on the images (captions,
comics), writing loses its literary character. Physicists make ample use of images (photographs,
tables, graphs) in their publications and presentations to conferences. A brief analysis
of empirical materials shows that physicists usually employ verbal language to support acoustically
or mentally a discourse which in itself is intrinsically iconic. They are subject to the ambiguity
having to rely on writing to state and solidify their knowledge claims while at the same
time being unable to use a literary style but only one interstitial to iconic instruments of communication.