The interplay between interpersonal and compositional meanings in multimodal texts about animals for young children

Maria Koutsikou and Vasilia Christidou

Punctum, 5(1): 114-137, 2019
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2019.0008

Abstract

Contemporary science books for preschool children are multimodal texts since they combine different semiotic systems in meaning production. Along with their representational meaning (presentation of processes and participants), image and language in these books realize equally important levels of meaning: the interpersonal (nature of the relationship between writer-reader and reader–represented participants) and the compositional (composition of elements on the page). The study attempts a comparative analysis of two multimodal texts about animals for preschool children, to examine the meanings created visually and verbally at the interpersonal (address, social distance) and compositional (information value, salience) level. The analysis indicates that the two texts differ regarding the role gradually assigned to the reader (address) and the nature of the relationship developed between the reader and the represented animals (social distance). Additionally, these interpersonal meanings are reinforced or weakened through the positioning of the elements on the page (information value) and their relative emphasis (salience). Τhe different possibilities of combining visual and verbal means for communicating interpersonal and compositional meanings that emerged through the analysis, are discussed with regard to their pedagogical appropriateness and may support teachers in the selection, design, and use of multimodal science texts to promote science literacy.

KEYWORDS: compositional meaning; interpersonal meaning; multimodal science texts; preschool children
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