Intersemiotic Complementarity: A framework for multimodal discourse analysis

Lawrence Erlbaum & Assoc.
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New Directions in the Analysis of Multimodal Discourse, 2007, 1st, pp. 63 - 109
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In the last century there has been a great deal of work in the analysis of linguistic communication, and in more recent years a body of work has also been built up describing the ways that visual modes project their meanings. However, there has been little work that specifically targets the nature of the intersemiotic semantic relationships between the visual and verbal modes, to explain just what features make multimodal text visuallyverbally coherent. In this chapter a descriptive framework for the analysis of pagebased multimodal texts is introduced and applied to a multimodal text extracted from the Finance department of The Economist magazine. The chapter examines the proposition that both the verbal and visual modes of communication, within the boundaries of a single text, complement each other in the ways that they project meaning, and that this intersemiotic complementarity (Royce, 1998a, 1998b) is realized through various linguistic and visual means peculiar to the respective modes. The sample text analyzed here is an extract from the issue of The Economist magazine published in March 1993, bearing the title heading Mountains still to climb (The Economist, March 27th, 1993, pp. 7778). It is presented in full in Fig. 2.1, and will hereafter be referred to as the Mountains text.
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