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Building Bridges for Multimodal Research

International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis

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Edited By Janina Wildfeuer

While multimodality is one of the most influential semiotic theories for analysing media artefacts, the concepts of this theory are heterogeneous and widespread. The book takes the differences between approaches in Germany and those in international contexts as a starting point, offering new insights into the analysis of multimodal documents. It features contributions by researchers from more than 15 nations and various disciplines, including theoretical reflections on multimodality, thoughts about methodological, empirical, and experimental approaches as well as analyses of various multimodal artefacts.
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Combining Computer Vision and Multimodal Analysis: A Case Study of Layout Symmetry in Bilingual In-Flight Magazines

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1 Introduction

Regardless of the approach, the currently blooming research on multimodality is always in need of empirical scrutiny, because establishing which of our theories are found wanting, in which contexts, how and why, requires forging a strong link between theory and data. The principles of empiricism, however, are often neglected due to the time-consuming nature of multimodal analysis. Anyone working within the field knows the time and resources needed to pull apart the meanings in a film scene, a manuscript page or a single advertisement, and the effort of putting them back together during analysis. Yet these painstaking analyses hold the promise of bringing novel perspectives to the study of human communication and meaning-making in general. If this is indeed the case, then multimodal research should strive to be empirically responsible and to show that the field can also address research questions that fall outside its traditional concerns.

For this reason, this chapter aims to make a twofold contribution. Firstly, I address certain concerns about layout that have been raised in studies of written code-switching and multilingualism. More specifically, I ask whether the spatial placement of content in bilingual documents can carry additional meanings, that is, do the designers use layout to signal the reader that the bilingual content is semantically equivalent? In this chapter, this design will be termed layout symmetry and theorised in the following discussion.

Secondly, to explore how the proposed symmetry is used in bilingual written discourse,...

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