Representation of gene-editing in British and Italian newspapers. A cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse study


This study provides a cross-linguistic overview of the most recurrent representation strategies of gene-editing in British and Italian newspapers over a period between 2015 and 2018. The aim of the study is to a) identify the archetypal representations in English and in Italian, also considering translation-related issues, and b) to assess whether these representations are positively or negatively framed across the corpora. The research is carried out in a quantiqualitative vein, using the method of corpus-assisted discourse analysis. Corpus linguistics tools are used for text search and data processing and rely on the triangulation of normalized frequency, dispersion and range parameters. Methods of (critical) discourse analysis are applied to the qualitative part of the research. Literature on science popularization and metaphorical framing of genetic concepts is also part of the analytical toolkit. The findings identify a relative lack of terminological stability concerning the denomination choices, especially evident in the Italian corpus. The archetypal representation strategy revolves around the idea of technology and (physical) change. The analysis highlights the use of some ideologically charged denominations across the corpora, with a prevalently positive framing of the technology as applied to agriculture in the Italian corpus and a more balanced framing of gene-editing in the UK corpus. The findings uncovered a paradigm shift in the metaphorical representation of genome: from a mysterious code of life to a domesticated and operationalized idea of a tool.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v34p51

Keywords: gene editing; representation; cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse analysis


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