Authored by: Jeff Bezemer , Sahra Abdullahi

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the relationship between linguistic ethnography and the emerging field of multimodality. It begins by providing a historical overview of the development of multimodality in several academic contexts since the late 1990s, identifying what different multimodal perspectives have in common. Some theoretical influences common to both linguistic ethnography and multimodality are identified, as well as some key differences, particularly the prioritisation of language in linguistic ethnography. The chapter identifies current contributions of multimodality research in identifying a wide range of tools people use to make meaning, and in developing analytic approaches to these. These ideas are exemplified with reference to two examples of multimodal communication in an era of superdiversity: a chopstick wrapper analysed as a semiotic artefact, and a video recording of a meeting between parent, teacher and student in a London tuition centre. The chapter identifies three important areas the field needs to address in future: developing systematic approaches to multimodal transcription; working towards shared conceptualisations of multimodal semiotic resources and principles of composition; and exploring meaning-making activities which rely entirely on modes other than speech and writing.

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