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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

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Volume 2016, Issue 210


The thematic structure of homepages: An exploratory systemic-functional account

Leong Ping Alvin
Published Online: 2016-03-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0048


The visual social semiotic approach, based on Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics (SFL), is widely used in studies on multimodal texts. As SFL is a framework focusing on the functions of language, several SFL categories are re-conceptualized in visual social semiotics to handle the analysis and interplay of extra-linguistic features; other categories, however, are excluded. A consequence is that any insights offered by these excluded categories in multimodal texts remain obscured. This paper focused on one such category, theme, as a generator of expectations. It analyzed the thematic structure of twenty homepages to show that the different SFL themes are applicable and evident in such multimodal texts. It underscores the importance of theme as a point of departure of any discourse, textual or otherwise, allowing us to form expectations about how the rest of the discourse may be acceptably developed.

Keywords: visual social semiotics; systemic functional linguistics; homepage; theme; rheme


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-03-12

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2016, Issue 210, Pages 105–127, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0048.

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