Professional discourse: the verbal and visual semiosis interplay
Professional discourse has become one of the most researched types of discourse in modern cross-disciplinary studies. Being widely represented in linguistic studies, it still has received unfairly tenuous attention in semiotic studies. Some areas of professional discourse such as popular science discourse have been out of focus of linguo-semiotic studies so far. The goal of this paper is to identify the dominating semiotic system in the formation of meaning and knowledge transfer in popular science discourse. The authors have carried out the semiotic analysis of verbal-visual relations in journal articles headlines belonging to the sphere of popular science, their correlation in the process of semiosis, representation of scientific knowledge in popular science discourse. Data obtained in the result of the conducted research support a new trend in semiotic research that visual system is no longer viewed as subordinate as it is capable of shifting the emphasis in the process of semiosis. Based on the previous body of research relating to word-image interdependencies, the authors develop their own approach to determine the dominance of one semiotic system over the other in certain contextual environments. While departing from a traditional approach of defining the nature of relations between two major components – the verbal and the visual, the authors propose to include an “intermediary” element to form a triad consisting of heading, sub-heading and photograph. The analysis of the relations among the three elements gives the results which sometimes reflect contradictory tendencies in verbal-visual relations present in single (heading-sub-heading) or multimodal (heading-photograph) systems. The authors determine three models of interaction of verbal and visual components – complementarity, neutrality, controversy, though under the influence of the “intermediary” component the models may significantly change. The results contribute to deeper understanding of professional language picture among specialists, as well as familiarizing non-specialists with professional language picture. The results also may be employed as guidelines in the academic courses of texts composition, writing popular science articles, and as a teaching tool in disciplines focused on text analysis.