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Object-centered—How Engineering Writing Embodies Objects: A Study of Four Engineering Documents

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Recent studies of engineering communication indicate that engineering aims at objects to such an extent that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the objects themselves and engineering writing about those objects. Engineering writing, then, must be very object-centered. This article determines whether this “centeredness” manifests itself in engineering writing through examining grammatical subjects in a sample of four engineering documents. The examination indicates that most of the grammatical subjects in the sample refer to objects, thus suggesting that the sample is very object-centered. This “centeredness” ensures specific reference in engineering writing. It accommodates three rhetorical acts: facilitating engineers’ contact with objects, eliminating human interference, and fostering cooperation among engineers. The examination suggests that this particular style of engineering writing represents professional practices of engineers and that it meets expectations of readers in the engineering department.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2001

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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