[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 28] 1987
► pp. 81–93
Perspectiefkeuze in Voorlichtingsteksten
The advice often given to writers of information brochures (distributed by governmental organisations, health organisations, etc) to use a reader based style to produce a more readable text, is difficult to follow. Especially the use of the pronoun you (creating a reader perspective, RP, in, for example: if you use tranquillizers, you may not be able to drive a car vs. Someone who uses tranquillizers may not be able to drive a car) is not always compatible with the kind of information, advice or instruction one wishes to convey. As a consequence, writers use a non-personal style throughout their text, or they more or less regularly switch their perspective from RP to a non-personal one, presumably at the cost of processing speed and ease on the part of the reader. The research reported in this article is concerned with
- the linguistic means generallly used to introduce the RP in
such texts for the first time;
- when and for what reasons the writer has to give up RP for a more general, impersonal perspective.
A textual analysis of 20 Dutch brochures shows that these switches generally rest on rhetorical choices the writer makes concerning (a) the readers addressed, (b) certain aspects of the information given (negativity, complexity), (c) text structure, and (d) stylistic choices. Suggestions are given that may solve the perspective problem, but which in turn may interfere with other rhetorical strategies of the writer.