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Applied Linguistics Review

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Toward multimodal ethnopoetics

Kuniyoshi Kataoka,
Published Online: 2012-03-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2012-0005


Multimodal analysis of discourse is a fast-developing area of linguistic research. With this trend in mind, the purpose of the current chapter is twofold: first, to briefly review previous endeavors in the study of linguistic poetics with special attention to parallelism and repetition (cf. Jakobson 1960, 1966), and to seek potential paths to expand it to multimodal analyses of natural discourse by incorporating the ideas from ethnopoetics (Hymes 1981, 1996, 2003) and gesture studies (McNeill 1992, 2005); and second, to present a sample analysis of media discourse in the framework of “multimodal ethnopoetics” by highlighting the interplay between the verbal-nonverbal coordination and the audio-visual representations. With these goals in mind, we confirm that poeticity is not a distinctive quality restricted to constructed poetry but is an endowment to any kind of natural discourse that is co-constructed by language, the body, and the environment.

Specifically, I first review some basic and extended concepts of repetition and parallelism, identifying the notion of “lines” as the fundamental criterion for conducting Hymesian ethnopoetics, in which lines are weaved into larger, culture-specific units on the “verse/stanza” levels. In addition, it is proposed that para-linguistic and nonverbal aspects of language use may (un)consciously contribute to the construction of poetic structure, typically in terms of “catchment” (McNeill 2005) and the distributional configuration of gestures (Kataoka 2009, 2010, 2012). In the latter half of the paper, we move on to examine an actual case (a Japanese TV commercial) in which poetic intentions are apparently maximized for greater appeal to the audience and larger profit from the product. The analysis indicates that the aesthetics encoded and shared therein could be an outcome of the repeated practice, accumulated and sedimented by attending to the ongoing – whether actual or virtual – participation, which is generally facilitated by favored manners of conduct, or “habitus” (Bourdieu 1990).

Keywords:: ethnopoetics; multimodality; repetition and parallelism; narrative

About the article

Published Online: 2012-03-29

Published in Print: 2012-04-17

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 101–130, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2012-0005.

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©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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