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Beyond Words

Pictures, Parables, Paradoxes


Edited By András Benedek and Kristóf Nyíri

Human thinking depends not only on words but also on visual imagery. Visual argumentation directly exploits the logic of the pictorial, while verbal arguments, too, draw on figurative language, and thus ultimately on images. In the centuries of handwritten documents and the printed book, our educational culture has been a predominantly verbal one. Today the challenge of the pictorial is explicit and conspicuous. In the digital world, we are experiencing an unprecedented wealth of images, animations and videos. But how should visual content be combined with traditional texts? This volume strives to present a broad humanities background showing how going beyond the word was always an issue in, and by now has become an inevitable challenge to, pedagogy and philosophy.
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Emoticons vs. Reaction-Gifs Non-Verbal Communication on the Internet from the Aspects of Visuality, Verbality and Time


Ágnes Veszelszki

Emoticons vs. Reaction-Gifs

Non-Verbal Communication on the Internet from the Aspects of Visuality, Verbality and Time


The aim of this paper is to analyze a new form of non-verbal communication on the internet: reaction-gifs. After an overview of fundamental assumptions of linguistic research on digital communication, I am going to show different possibilities of expressing emotions on the internet and in the third step I will present the results of an empirical research on reaction-gifs.

2.Fundamental Assumptions of Linguistic Research on Digital Communication

2.1.Technological Determinism

Linguistic – in particular pragmatic – studies of non-verbal signs in digital communication are characterized to some extent by technological determinism, the claim of which has been made with various degrees of strength and exclusivity. The fundamental assumptions suggest that the constraints and affordances of the medium and technology determine (linguistic) behaviour. In other words, the digital language variant (also called digilect1) – determined by information and communication technology – continuously keeps up with the latest developments of information technology, thus it constantly changes itself. Based on the find ← 131 | 132 → ings of Herring, Stein and Virtanen, we can state that the stronger any scholar’s intention for pure technological determinism, “the stronger the implication of universality and convergence of different languages used on the Internet”2.

2.2. Literacy and Orality: Digital Communication – a Deficient or a New Form?

Apart from technological determinism, a further characteristic of netlinguistics is...

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