Nowadays, the intensive flow of information and the rapidly growing trend of information and content visualization determine the interest in paralinguistic components of a text, content design, numerous graphic means. In the process of text production various code systems, images, signs, fonts, colors can interact with each other, thus, producing a discursive change through new sets of discourse to achieve goals set in the frames of a communicative strategy [6, P. 182].
O. Mishina states that in the 20th century a visual text component turned from a secondary source into one that can be equivalent to a verbal text [4, P. 105].
Language, being stative and dynamic at the same time, can evolve, therefore, the text, which is “a product” of the language, undergoes similar changes. In modern science and communication, there is a tendency of the text concept broadening [3, P. 57].
Scholars from different fields of linguistics addressed the phenomenon of non-verbal means of communication, their description, nature, structure and peculiarities. An interest to study paralinguistic text components, their correlation and specificity is reflected in a number of works and research results by E.E. Anisimova, V.E. Chernyavskaya, O.V. Mishina, N.V. Petrovskiy, A.G. Sonin, Yu.A. Sorokin, E.F. Tarasov, M.B. Voroshilova, B.A. Uspenskiy and T. Miller.
One of the most significant problems and challenging issues in this segment of linguistics is the elaboration of a holistic and adequate term that can demonstrate the complex structure of semiotic heterogeneous texts.
R.O. Jacobson defines texts that combine both verbal and visual elements as “syncretic messages” that reflect the content of different sign systems. According to the scientist’s theory, it is necessary to differentiate between the search of homogeneous texts and syncretic messages [8, P. 171].
Psycholinguists Yu.A. Sorokin and E.F. Tarasov introduced the notion of “creolized texts”. They define such texts as “those with texture consisting of two inhomogeneous parts: verbal (language) and non-verbal (belonging to other sign systems rather than natural language” [6, P. 183].
E.E. Anisimova considers such texts as paralinguistic ones. According to the scientist, there is a special group called “creolized texts”, it contains texts with various sign systems, especially verbal and iconic signs. It is stated in the research that creolized text is characterized by obligatory iconic components in its compound structure, which are embedded into a verbal part [2, P. 72].
At the same time, V.E. Chernyakovskaya highlights the fact that the term “creolized text” does not convey the meaning of specific interaction between heterogeneous elements [7, P. 55].
O.V. Poymanova defines these types of texts with the term “video-verbal”, specifying this text as a sequence of signs related to sign systems of natural, verbal languages [5, P. 71].
In Russian linguistics, the term “polycode” came into use relatively recently. Polycode text coherence can be observed in both components of a text and appears in substantial, lingual, compositional levels [9, P. 125]. The term “polycode” reflects the essence of the phenomenon of both visual and language elements within a single text unit more accurately and precisely. This term emphasizes the textual nature of the notion, its substantial semantic integrity. A polycode text is a fixed mental representation of reality, perceived by the author, who sticks to a certain manner of knowledge representation of reality, the main focus is the level of cognitive development of the addressee.
Material and Methods
The method of the complete sample was used to single out and collect polycode, creolized texts of English outdoor advertising. The focus of the research is examples of social advertising. Overall, more than 200 images of advertising were examined. Advertising units centred on the topic of coronavirus pandemic were taken into account. We used Google and Google Street View to access a selection of real, up-to-date pictures and obtain valuable results. Then, qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis were employed to select the most frequent and popular type of advertising creolized texts and scrutinize peculiarities of such texts.
Creolized texts have become an essential part, a tool of communication and a way of the expression of the text semantic organization. Creolized texts of advertising immediately attract and keep the attention of the recipient, facilitate the perception of the main idea and concept of any advertising item, increase the effect and impact of a text.
A creolized text can include a verbal and visual part. To determine the nature of verbal and non-verbal components synthesis in creolized text organization, we resort to the classification of A.A. Bernatskaya. The researcher singles out three degrees of creolization:
- weak creolization (typical of paralinguistic means of communication);
- moderate creolization (the emphasis on one element, its domination, and the supporting role of the other);
- strong creolization (both components are equal) [1, P. 34].
Such texts can also contain metagraphemical means that can be divided into several areas: chromographemics (highlighting verbal components with the help of colors); supragraphemics (varieties of fonts); topographemics (spatial variations of language content); singraphemics (allocation of the verbal component by means of punctuation marks).
Metagraphemical means in creolized texts tend to be employed for several purposes: technical (to support visual comprehension); informative (to outline semantic aspects); esthetic (to underline the visual, artistic importance); emotive (to affect the emotional state of the addressee); symbolic (to express abstract concepts); illustrative (to support verbal information with the visual one); euphemistic (to deliver information which cannot be verbalized) [2, P. 77].
Moreover, creolized text are usually distinguished between static and dynamic ones. Static creolized texts represent a poster, political cartoon, image, illustration. In dynamic creolized texts visual elements are variable, rich, sometimes more expressive.
Analyzing the examples of social advertising, we will determine, examine the type of creolization and discuss linguistic and paralinguistic means embedded.
The conducted research proved that the overwhelming majority of social advertising examples devoted to the topic of COVID-19 pandemic contain weak creolization (64%). As an example of a text with weak creolization, we provide the one by the World Health Organization (see figure 1) .
Fig. 1 – Advertising by the World Health Organization
In this advertising unit there is lack of explicit visual components. In the middle of it, we can only observe the verbal text, precautions emphasized by the WHO. At the same time, we can see various metagraphemical means (namely, chromographemical ones). By the color variation, the importance and urgency of the topic is, emphasized. Metagraphemical parts function as technical and informative means. Thus, the reader is not distracted with unnecessary illustrations but concentrated on the topical issues.
Texts with moderate creolization made up 31% of all the examples analyzed (see figure 2) .
Fig. 2 – Advertising in the town of Hamden
Advertising texts with moderate creolization show a dominant position of one element and subordinate position of the other one. In figure 2, we can see the primacy of the non-verbal component role. The illustrations symbolize family traditions, health matters. The verbal component (“Protect the ones you love”) is important, but not the predominant one. It should be mentioned that the pictures perform mainly esthetic, emotive, symbolic and illustrative functions here.
In texts with strong creolization, both elements tend to be equal. What is interesting, it turns out to be impossible to decode information in case of one of the components omission. Our analysis has proved that this is the least frequent type of creolization in social advertising devoted to the COVID-19 issue. This type was registered only in 5% of all the examples reviewed. In the advertising item under analysis (see figure 3) the verbal element cannot be read and comprehended without the visual one, that is why it appears to be essential to view such texts as one complex synthetic unity .
Fig. 3 – Social advertising by City Council, Philadelphia
Serving as informative, technical and illustrative means pictures can be regarded to be a part of the verbal text. In such parallel correlation semantics and pragmatic potential of verbal and visual elements coincide.
Speaking about a verbal component, several patterns were registered after the analysis of the advertising units. First of all, imperative and modal constructions are frequently used by authors to spur the addressee to action (“Stop the spread. Stay 6 feet away”, “Wash your hands more often for 20 seconds”, “Stay healthy. Avoid COVID-19”, “We can stop corona”, “Practice social distancing and help save lives”, “We can help stop corona”, “Help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like covid”, “Stay at home. Stop the spread. Spread the word”).
There are few examples of rhetorical questions and elliptical constructions (“Coronavirus outbreak”, “No socializing anytime”, “No standing anytime”). There are no examples containing any stylistic devices. It signifies the fact that one and the only aim of such texts is recipient awareness of the problem. Such texts can represent a note of caution with no additional information.
Thus, it is possible to state that creolized texts of social advertising appear to be a complex textual formation, in which verbal and iconic components focus on a complex pragmatic impact on the recipient. The synthesis of verbal and non-verbal elements demonstrates a great diversity. Parts of creolized text are connected at the compositional, content and language levels. The primacy of one certain type of a text is determined by the type of communication and functionality of a creolized text in general. However, the most frequent type of creolized texts in social advertising (devoted to coronavirus issues) is the one of weak creolization. In the present case, this type of interaction between two different code systems seems to be the most successful for the addressee’s interpretation.
Further research of the phenomenon of creolized text is of great interest since such synthetic units encompass much information and can have a sufficient pragmatic effect on the recipient.
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