Home Communication Semiotics and Verbal Texts: How the News Media Construct a Crisis
IV Concluding Thoughts
Other Events, Other Contexts
In this book I have outlined a new approach to analysing verbal written language in order to provide a template for other researchers aiming to describe the linguistic characteristics of large written data sets. The approach I describe is grounded in semiotic theory, but flexible to respond to the emergent findings from specific data. It is adapted to make use of language analysis tools according to need. It is critically aware but not agenda-driven.
The particular interest of this book series “Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse” is in the connections between theories of language and their application in practice. In my particular case study, the focus has moved from theory to practice and back to theory in the following sense. Initially the work drew primarily on the Barthesian view that language makes meaning at a number of semiotic levels, and I suggested that an investigation which pays attention to these multiple levels can provide a holistic account of a textual representation. De Saussure’s (1959: 128) concept of “organized masses that are themselves signs” sits alongside the notion of Peirce’s sign forms to suggest that a data set (in this case taken at a particular time point, but not necessarily so) can be seen as a representation © The Author(s) 2017
J. Gravells, Semiotics and Verbal Texts, Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-58750-3_15
or “sign” with its own characteristics. These semiotic theories formed the basis for the language analysis work. Four stages of analysis served to contextualise the data, identify language objects for study at four semiotic levels, investigate the objects using diverse research tools and explore how these features work together in a single text. The conclusions of this project were based on the observation that the three data sets were analogous to Peirce’s three main sign forms, Icon, Index and Symbol. What seems to be useful in this conceptualisation is the notion of the proximity and distance of each of these sign forms from the Object, whereby the media representation relates to the BP events in changing ways over time, finally returning to an apparent, but fully symbolic, proximity, in spiral fashion. If this process can be shown to hold for other written representations, then this Peircean conceptualisation provides an explanatory theory which captures how meaning is created, positioned, played with, naturalised and absorbed.
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