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English and French Online Comments

A Text Linguistic Comparison of Popular Science Magazines

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John Marcus Sommer

In recent years, text and media linguistics have focused on genres in the new media. This is almost always accompanied by the question of the establishment and development of such content. Due to the diversity of genres and their dynamic development one can speak of an almost inexhaustible field of research. The book is located in this field of research. Its goal is to examine the origin and nature of readers’ comments by readers of French and English popular science magazines. Media content is dissected by using text linguistic tools. Transmedial cultures are explored across time, platforms, languages, and editing houses.

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10. Layout Comparison

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In chapter 3.5 it was argued that the consideration of the genre profile in which we can find a specific genre is crucial when conducting contrastive analyses. On websites, the genre profile is closely linked to the layout of the websites. The layout is part of the multimodal component of a genre. Within research on multimodality, “the visual component of a text is an independently organized and structured message - connected with the verbal text, but in no way dependent on it: and similarly the other way around” (Kress & van Leeuwen 1996: 17). The layout can be understood as a tertiary form of writing (“tertiäre Schriftlichkeit”), which plays a role every time we are dealing with visual representations of language. In order to understand a text, the textual environment, i.e. the layout, also plays an important role (Schmitz 2015: 46).

While the layout does not have the same referential function of words, it has organizing and ordering functions. Additionally, it sometimes indicates that certain aspects are already known or unknown. It can also help to indicate what belongs to a certain social group or not (Kress 2010: 92). In some cases on websites, the layout creates hierarchical structures. An image and a text may for example be grouped together, which would also indicate their relationship (Bateman 2014: 122). This includes for example the placement of stories, headlines, textual frames, point of view, tone, and quotations (Scollon 2000: 767 f.). This shows that regarding the layout, many...

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