The paper provides a cross-cultural analysis of selected linguistic realizations of persuasion in technical manuals as typical representatives of technical discourse. It aims to identify differences and similarities between the ways persuasive power is expressed in this type of specialized discourse in English and Czech L1 texts. The data comprises manuals to various technical devices and amounts to slightly more than 200,000 words. This specialized corpus (15 manuals in English and 15 in Czech) is assumed to enable the comparison of the ways in which technical communicators express persuasion. The investigation, which is conducted from the perspectives of corpus analysis and discourse analysis, focuses on the ways in which the interactive and dynamic process of persuasion is explicitly manifested: 1. directly (i.e. using directives expressed by imperatives of full verbs, modals of obligation, necessity, prohibition, and predicative adjectives expressing the writer’s judgement of the necessity to perform an action) and 2. indirectly (i.e. using other language means than directives, such as other modals than those related to obligation, necessity or prohibition, conditional clauses, rhetorical questions). The findings are expected to be relevant and applicable in the education domain to raise technical writers’ awareness of directives as useful persuasive strategies suitable for the production of effective well-written technical manuals since their quality including the appropriate degree of persuasiveness can influence prospective consumers to make a purchase of a particular technical device.

cross-cultural analysis; technical discourse (TD); technical manuals (TMs); persuasion; persuasive power; persuasive strategies; directives; imperatives; modal verbs; predicative adjectives
Author biography

Renata Povolná

Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Education, Masaryk University, Poříčí 9, 603 00, Brno, Czech Republic

Renata Povolná is Associate Professor of English Linguistics at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. Her research interests lie in the area of discourse analysis, pragmatics and conversation analysis, concentrating mainly on academic and technical discourse. She has published the books Spatial and Temporal Adverbials in English Authentic Face-to-Face Conversation (2003) and Interactive Discourse Markers in Spoken English (2010) and co-authored Cohesion and Coherence in English Discourse (2012). She is co-editor of Coherence and Cohesion in Spoken and Written Discourse (2009) and Discourse Interpretations: Approaches and Applications (2012) published by CSP. She is co-editor of the linguistics journal Discourse and Interaction.

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