Международная студенческая научно-практическая конференция «Инновационное развитие государства: проблемы и перспективы глазам молодых ученых». Том 3

Kononenko M.V.

Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University, Ukraine


There is little doubt as for the prominent influence that films exercise over the mass culture, perception of the world and modes of behaviour in modern society. Despite its short history, it managed to establish firmly in our lives and, as it is sometimes pointed out, even replace older ways of entertainment and art both in elite and popular culture. One of its constituent parts which serves as a major means of producing impact on the viewer is film text. However, little has been done to perform a deep theoretic research in this area in terms of linguistics. While some researchers attempted to analyze film text as a work of literature (among them Ju.M. Tunyanov, G. Gillard, E. Simpson), others preferred developing the so-called “language of the film” trend where editing effects such as cuts, shots, transition elements, montage were regarded as belonging to film “grammar”, “vocabulary units” or “punctuation” (Ju.M. Lotman, A. Vassiliou, A. Cristiano). Acknowledging their valuable contribution to the film theory, we can not but mention the lacuna in strictly linguistic approach to this problem (although in recent years scientists have started to bridge this gap, among them are G.G. Slyshkin and M.A. Yefremova, S.A. Panchenko).

 The aim of the article is to shed light on the existing theories and opinions concerning film text as a complex phenomenon involving the interaction of multiple semiotic resources.

 According to K. O’Halloran, the study of these texts (which she calls “multimodal”) has received three major stimuli during the twentieth century. Firstly, as G. Kress and T. van Leeuwen observe, the long-term “distinct preference for monomodality” in Western culture shifted, such that both the popular and ‘high culture’ arts began “to use an increasing variety of materials and to cross boundaries between the various art, design and performance disciplines, towards multimodal Gesamtkunstwerke, multimedia events and so on” [4, p.1]. Secondly, as G. Kress and T. van Leeuwen go on to claim, “the desire for crossing boundaries inspired twentieth century semiotics. The main schools of semiotics all sought to develop a theoretical framework applicable to all semiotic modes, from folk costume to poetry, from traffic signs to classical music, from fashion to theatre” [4, p.1].

 Finally, the third major incentive stimulating the study of multimodal discourse during the twentieth century has been the increasing technological power, particularly of computers, to record, replay and analyze multimodal texts and phenomena [5, p. 2].

 All of these have led to the creation and large-scale development of multimodal or creolized texts. While most scientists acknowledge existence of texts of this type, the important question which provokes debates in Western science is belonging of the film texts to “creolized texts” and the nature of these texts. It is worthwhile mentioning that while the term “creolized texts” seems more or less common and uniformly used in Russian and Ukrainian linguistics (by Ju.O. Sorokin, Y.F. Tarasov, G.G. Slyshkin, M.A. Yefremova, O.Y. Anisimova, S.A. Panchenko), this notion is not as well-established in the West. The questions arise even at the level of terminology as some authors prefer to use the term «collateral text», for example A. Vassiliou, R.K. Srihari and Z. Zhang. They explain this phenomenon as «texts that transcribe, accompany or somehow describe the contents of multimedia artefact be that an image, a piece of audio or in the case of this work, video content» [7, p. 4]. We can see that these texts are regarded as secondary compared to the visual elements which can be observed even at the level of terminology.

 Another point of view is that of a famous representative of the semiotic stream in linguistics – Christain Metz who talks about «pluri-code» to describe a heterogeneous nature of the film which is not something contrived but simply a condition for its existence. Other authors have also tackled this issue: P. Cattrysse speaks of a ‘composite filmic discourse’, made up of different sensory series which take place simultaneously [2, p. 35]; whereas R. Gardies considers any media message, film included, as the narrow and interdependent combination of concurrent languages [3, p. 64].

 What all these definitions have in common is the apparent contradiction between the inextricability of different codes and the simultaneous acknowledgment of the composite nature and therefore possible separation of the constitutive elements of this discourse. However, the majority of scientists prefer to use the definition of multimodal texts as it is understood by K. O’Hallowan: “discourse involving the interaction of multiple semiotic resources such as (spoken and written) language, gesture, dress, architecture, proximity (and in film for example) lighting, movement, gaze, camera angle, and so forth” [6, p.2].

 Despite the obvious successes in the study of this kind of texts in Western linguistics, the grounds for treating a given text as belonging to multimodal have not been developed yet. This is why the term which was introduced by Ju.O. Sorokin and Y.F. Tarasov – “creolized text” and aptly defined by O.Y. Anisimova as “a peculiar linguovisual phenomenon, a text, in which the verbal and the artistic components form a uniform visual, structural, functional whole that provides its complex pragmatic impact on the addressee” [1, p. 73] seems to cover all issues discussed above and thus being the most appropriate in this matter.

 This leads us to the conclusion that the concept of film text as a creolized text has already circulated for some time in the scholarly circles both in post-Soviet countries and Western ones, especially in the field of semiotics and discourse analysis. However, it is too soon to talk about completion of research in this matter considering its disputable nature and the complexity of elements it comprises.


1. Анисимова Е. Е. Паралингвистика и текст (к проблеме креолизованных и гибридных текстов) / Е.Е. Анисимова // Вопросы языкознания. – 1992. – № 1. – С. 71–79.

2. Gardies R. Paroles aux images: D’un média à l’autre / R. Gardies та ін. – Paris: Colin, 1987. – 136 с.

3. Kemlo J. Different Voices? Film and Text or Film as Text: Considering the Process of Film Adaptation from the Perspective of Discourse / J. Kemlo // MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities. – Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2008. – № 3. – С. 13–24.

4. Kress G. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of contemporary Communication / G. Kress, T. van Leeuwen. – London: Arnold, 2001. – 142 c.

5. O’Hallowan K. L. Multimodal Analysis within an Interactive Software Environment: Critical Discourse Perspectives [Электронний ресурс] / K. L. O’Halloran, S. Tan, B. A. Smith, and A. Podlasov. – Режим доступа: http://multimodal-analysis-lab.org/ _docs/pubs09-MultimodalDiscourse-CriticalAnalysis_O'Halloran_et_al_2011.pdf

6. Vassiliou A. Analysing Film Content: A Text-Based Approach / A. Vassiliou. – Guildford: University of Surrey, 2006. – 190 c.