A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of the Textual and Logical Relations in Marketing Texts Written by International Undergraduate Students

Journal Article
Publication Work Type: 
Research study
Business discourse, Marketing discourse, Composition of information value, Thematic progression, SFL
Magazine \ Newspaper: 
Functional Linguistics (A Springer Open Journal)
Issue Number: 
Volume Number: 
Publication Abstract: 

Thematic progression and the composition of information value contribute to the development of well-structured meaningful text. Discourse-based research of the textual features has been confined to language learning and workplace contexts,
and in particular advertising and marketing research. However, no published study has explored and analysed the multimodal textual and the logic-semantic features in tertiary marketing texts. This case study employed a Systemic Functional Multimodal Discourse Analysis (SF-MDA) to investigate and compare thematic progression patterns and composition of information value in five business marketing plan reports. It also aimed to investigate the logico–semantic expansions between the visual semiotic resources and the text surrounding them. The SF-MDA of the marketing plan texts is underpinned by Halliday’s (1994) systemic functional linguistics, Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996) composition of information value and Martinec and Salway’s (2005) system for multimodal discourse analysis of logico–semantic relations. The findings of the SF-MDA revealed the extensive use of Theme reiteration pattern, followed by linear thematic progression pattern. Although multiple-Theme pattern was minimally employed, disciplinary-specific uses of this
pattern in marketing discourse emerged. The findings suggest that the students have managed professional workplace practices by showing their understandings of marketing as part of overall business management. A number of other interesting findings related to textual and logico–semantic relations that exist between the tables and the graphs and the accompanying text were revealed. The SF-MDA of informational choices in the marketing texts extends Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996) functional interpretations of visual artefacts in terms of compositional zones. As the intersemiotic logic-semantic relations between graphs and tables and the orthographic texts surrounding them play a vital role in marketing discourse, tutors can introduce ways of expanding the meaning-making potential in these semiotic resources. Other pedagogical implications for the teaching and learning of writing are presented, particularly in the teaching of English for Business students.

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