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Media Linguistics: What is Media Linguistics? lies in the use of language in actual communi-
On Mediality cative situations.

and Culturality f the number of published essays, anthol-
ogies and introductory books are taken The specific focus of media linguistics lies in the
into account, media linguistics can be consideration of a medium-specific processing
considered as one of the most dynamic fields of signs and their semiotic materialities, as well
of applied linguistics in the German-speaking as associated institutions or non-institutiona-
Martin Luginbhl area (which this article will focus on). This lised social groups, their discursive and cultural
can be explained by the fact that the subject practices by means of and within these media,
of analysis of media linguistics has evolved in with a strong focus on the use of linguistic signs.
This article draws on recent develop-
various ways with the emergence of digital
ments within media linguistics, both
regarding the changing objects of re- media which can hardly be described as This implies an emphasis on the micro level
search as well as crucial theoretical new media any longer in the second decade of media texts. However, as language use
questions. Regarding the objects, an
expansion can be observed, overcoming of the 21st century. This expansion has also always takes place in a situational and wider
the long-lasting limitation to journal- led to an intensified discussion on some of cultural context, media linguistic analysis
istic mass media. This change is above should also reflect on aspects of the meso
the fundamental concepts. In what follows, I
all due to changes that came along with
digital media communication permeat- will address both of these aspects. Finally, I and the macro levels. This includes questions
ing our everyday lives, but also blurring will highlight some central tendencies and on intertextual relations or questions on
the lines between one-to-one and one-
to-many communication. These far- desiderata in present-day media linguistics. cultural practices of social groups.
reaching changes also led to an intensi- The object of media linguistic analysis
fied discussion of central concepts like essentially depends on the concept of the
medium and mediality. As current
What does Media Linguistics Study?
tendencies within the field, multimodal- medium. In early media linguistic milestone
ity, culturality, and the triad of produc-
A recent introduction on media linguistics publications (Stckl 2012: 16, my transla-
tion product reception are dis-
cussed. written by Ulrich Schmitz opens as follows: tion) on Language of the Press [Press-
Media linguistics studies how language is esprache] (Lger 1983), Communication of
used in the media (Schmitz 2015: 7, my the Press [Pressekommunikation] (Bucher
translation). According to this quote, the 1986), as well as Language of the Mass Me-
focal point of media linguistics, similar to dia [Sprache der Massenmedien] (Burger
conversation analysis and sociolinguistics, 1984), things used to be relatively clear: the
objects of analysis were mass-media texts,

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

i.e. texts from newspapers, from radio and (but see e.g., Bednarek 2010; Queen 2015). ferentiation processes prompt the question
from television. Authors of the texts investi- Even though the scope of the field of tradi- of what differences there are between vari-
gated were mostly professional writers who tional media linguistics is wide, its delimita- ous versions and how they relate to mediali-
produced texts collaboratively in an institu- tions are clear-cut. ty. Schwarzl (2015) and Burger & Luginbhl
tionalised context. Such texts were pro- This has changed with the emergence of (2014: 487-499) show that content and form
duced (i.e. printing press), duplicated, and digital communication technologies in the in such and similar cases are not the same.
received (i.e. television) by technical means. mid-1990s. On the one hand, the new com- When it comes to newspapers, for instance,
They were made publicly available in the municative practices that could be observed there are substantial differences in the ver-
form of one-way communication to a vast in the context of these technologies have sions mentioned regarding the production,
number of people. The audience remained generally increased our sensitivity to the the product itself and its reception. Nowa-
anonymous. mediality of communication. On the other days, the print version is usually published
Traditional mass media texts can be dis- hand, they have also blurred the lines be- once a day, the place for the written text is
tinguished from other texts by a certain pe- tween individual and mass communication limited by the number of pages, only static
riodicity and in general a short validity peri- when for instance both are likely to happen pictures can be used, reactions to the texts
od [Gltigkeitsdauer] (Adamzik 2004: 78). on the same electronic platform or when are only possible in the form of letters to the
Prototypically, they appear on a daily basis there are many different intermediate forms editor, and readers are only rarely invited to
and are meant for a short-term use (see between one-to-one, one-to-many and participate in text message or online sur-
Burger & Luginbhl 2014: 1f. on these prop- many-to-many communication. Further- veys.
erties); many introductory books have not more, recent studies on the production and In these respects, online newspapers
taken advertising into account (but see even though still rare on the reception differ greatly from their print versions: Typi-
Schmitz 2015). Journalistic mass media are have been conducted. cally, they are updated continuously; not
the object of research of traditional media Along with this new sensibility for medi- only written texts or static pictures but also
linguistics, with a pronounced focus on the ality effects, reflections on the concept of videos, interactive infographics etc. can be
analysis of products rather than processes. the medium itself have gained momentum. integrated. Also, the opportunity to react to
Linguistic studies on the production and re- The emergence and appropriation of new the news text is important: for instance by
ception of texts used to be rare; analyses of technologies has, for instance, led to the writing a comment, clicking on like-
non-journalistic mass media (i.e. books or possibility of reading newspapers in various buttons, and sharing content onto social me-
movies on DVD) are scarcely found in these ways: in print, online, on mobile phones, as dia platforms, etc. But already the very act of
media linguistic works and have not yet been well as with special apps for tablets, reading an online article has an impact on
in the centre of interest of media linguistics smartphones, or smartwatches. These dif-

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

the list of articles that are most frequently different versions? Or can we assume that communication. This can either encompass
viewed. there are five distinct media because of the one-to-one communication (prototypically
In addition, the individual texts of these five different versions of a newspaper, i.e. its e-mail or text messages, see the early works
two newspaper versions are not simply the print, online, mobile, tablet, and smartphone of Gnther & Wyss 1996; Baron 1998, 2000;
same: even though large parts of the word- versions? If a technical understanding of the Androutsopoulos & Schmidt 2002; Dring
ing in the printed and online version may be medium is adopted, the networked comput- 2002a & b; Elspa 2002; Ziegler & Dr-
similar or almost identical, they are charac- er would be the medium of the online news- scheid 2002; Thurlow 2003) or many-to-
terised by different segmentations and con- paper. This medium, however, would not many communication (prototypically chat,
textualisations. So called Anreiertexte, a only include online newspapers but also var- mailing lists, see Werry 1996; Hentschel
special form of extended headline including ious other genres, such as e-mail, chat, blog, 1998; Grosch 1999; Herring 1999; Paolillo
the beginning of an article, for example, are twitter, and social media platforms. Besides 1999; Schmidt 2000; Beiwenger 2001; Rin-
typical of online newspapers but not in their the digitalisation of the data only few shared tel et al. 2001; Durham 2003). In these cases,
printed counterparts. Due to the textual characteristics can be found. This is why a innovative language and character (in the
structure and mediality of online newspa- purely technical conceptualization of the case of smileys etc.) uses were soon detected
pers, these texts are actually needed in order medium does not seem to be expedient in compared to the first online newspapers
not only to find the corresponding article, media linguistics in times of technical con- that used to be text databases for printed
but to know about its very existence. In addi- vergence (and generic diversification, with newspapers (Bucher 1998: 100, my transla-
tion, it has to be noticed that sign modes text messages, for instance, being written on tion).
(language, picture, sound) are combined dif- a desktop computer or on a smartphone This development implies an enormous
ferently in online versions and that online etc.): a purely technical notion of the medium expansion of the field of media linguistics
texts show intra- and intermedial connec- is hardly able to account for the basic com- that nowadays does not exclusively deal
tions that distinguish them from print news- municative features of the individual genres. with journalistic mass media anymore. But if
paper texts. This happens for instance The increasing attention for the emer- interpersonal communication because it
through links, readers comments and reader gence of new genres as well as the greater can be realised in a variety of different me-
ratings, etc. The reception contexts are also awareness for the aspect of form (i.e. regard- dia (Schmitz 2015: 12, my translation)
quite different depending on the mediality of ing text design or typography, see Antos & becomes the subject of media linguistic anal-
newspapers. Spitzmller 2007; Hagemann 2007; Spitz- ysis then every kind of communicative ex-
Already at this point, the question arises mller 2013) became apparent in the con- change lends itself to media linguistic de-
of what constitutes the medium. Is it the text of works on digital, written and visual
newspaper as institution that publishes communication beyond simple one-way-

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

scription.1 Consequently, it seems less im- understanding of medium as technical appa- the production, transmission and/or storage
portant to ask about the subject (in terms of ratus, does not meet the requirements of of signs. Such conceptualisations of the me-
the analysed object) of media linguistics, but media linguistic description of contemporary dium focus on the aspect of sign transmis-
it rather is the specific perspective taken on communication. sion; media communication is in this case
that subject that becomes relevant. every kind of communication that makes use
In the beginning of CMC studies in the What is a Medium? of technical devices (in a rather broad sense,
late 1990s (Androutsopoulos 2006: 420 including e.g., paper as transmission medi-
speaks of a first wave of linguistic CMC As mentioned above, the question now aris- um). Consequently, face-to-face communica-
studies), new forms of language use were es of what constitutes the medium when tion needs to be classified as non-medial and
described in a more or less decontextualised analysing media texts: Is it the technical ap- somehow direct communication. Based on
way and were often labelled as netspeak paratus that gives material shape to the this conceptualisation of the medium and the
(Crystal 2006) as the result of rather impre- transmitted signs (e.g., a printing press or a media under analysis, the question arises of
cise generalisations. Todays studies reflect TV camera)? Is it the sign carrier (e.g., a what modes (like language, image, sound see
on different sub-genres (e.g. corporate blogs, printed newspaper) or the receiver device Kress & van Leeuwen 2006) can be realised
academic blogs, personal blogs and so on, (e.g., a TV set)? Or do we refer to an institu- in what kinds of material shape, in what local
see Puschmann 2010; Fritz 2013: ch. 11; tion when talking about the newspaper or and temporal relations the transmission
Schildhauer 2014), diverse situational and television and therefore to a social group takes place (e.g. simultaneous or delayed
cultural contexts (see, e.g., Kerschner in this producing the texts with certain routines, transmission), as well as the question of
issue; Ylnen 2007; DeAndrea et al. 2010; within a certain society and for a certain me- whether the medium allows, for instance,
Luginbhl & Hauser 2010; Luginbhl 2014 a dia market? The research questions that one-way-communication only (see Holly
& b; Theodoropoulou 2015) and contextuali- need to be formulated depend greatly on 2011). This conceptualisation seems valua-
sations (see, e.g., van Dijck 2013; Bastian et how we answer these questions. ble at first since it is quite homogenous com-
al. 2014; Locher et al. 2015; Klemm & Michel A lot of media linguistic studies define pared to much broader conceptualisations
in this issue, Pflaeging in this issue). This the medium as technical device (e.g., defini- that can be found in media philosophy or
shows, in my opinion, that a purely technical tions given in Schmitz 2015: 8 or in Marx & media sociology (which include e.g. money,
conceptualisation of mediality alone, i.e. an Weidacher 2014: 84), extending this defini- shoes or power as media, see Krotz 2012:
tion though by introducing additional as- 34; Klemm & Michel 2013). Understanding
pects. In these works, the core meaning of media as technical devices also draws atten-
Except oral face-to-face communication if a technical
understanding of the concept medium is adopted, medium is that of a technical device, serving tion to the crucial fact that technical devices
see below. always enable (or prevent) realisations of

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

certain modes, and thus have an influence on chats, dating chats) etc. Both communication not something that is due to the apparatus).
the repertoire of genres that can be realised forms are realised by means of a computer Nevertheless, the concept is problematic in
in a certain medium (see Habscheid 2000). (although thereby neglecting differences some ways as Schneider ( points out. It
Studies relying on a technical conceptu- between desktop computers, smartphones separates the material aspect of communica-
alisation of the medium distinguish another and tablets), but they do differ with respect tion i.e. the modes used from the procedural
analytical level next to medium and genre in to communicative constellations (e.g. regard- side, i.e. the communicative practices. This
order to discern different communicative ing simultaneity, one-way or two-way com- way, the medium (understood as technical
constellations within a technical medium. munication etc.). The ways of sign processing device) is reduced to the repertoires and
These works distinguish between medium in e-mails or chat, respectively, are different combinations of semiotic modes and their
communication form text type (Stckl regarding communicative structures to such transmission; aspects of sign processing are
2012: 19 uses Kommunikat instead of text a degree that they cannot be grasped with a related to communication forms and text
type; Holly 1997; Schmitz 2015: 8-11). technical conceptualisation of the medium types alone.
These communication forms encompass as- and this is where the intermediate concept Thus, this conceptualisation has some
pects of the technical medium on the one of communication form comes in. These dif- major disadvantages. It is not the case
hand (e.g., the communication form TV ferences between communicative structures which has already been acknowledged in
show is described as non-permanent one- become very clear in the age of convergent works on traditional communication models
way-communication, see Schmitz 2015: 9, media: A smartphone can be used to make that technical transmission media simply
my translations), and specifics of the com- phone calls or to send voice messages, to transmit signs in a neutral way and that they
municative situation (Schmitz 2015: 8) on write e-mails or text messages etc. Very dif- only determine the modes that can be used
the other hand (e.g., the TV show can be cur- ferent communication forms can be realised (e.g. sound in the case of radio) and aspects
rent or not, it can make use of written lan- with one technical device. This situation was of communicative structure (like one-way-
guage or not). Holly places the notion com- different in the age of analogue media as the communication). Rather it is the case that
munication form right in between technical communication forms of the traditional mass there are very complex relations between
possibilities and a communicative-pragmatic media (newspaper, radio, TV) used different different medialities (including oral and writ-
design, describing it as media-based cultural technical devices for transmission. ten communication, which are in the case of
practices (Holly 2011: 155, my translation). The concept of communication form al- TV intertwined anyway) and therefore also
Examples of communication forms lows discerning specific communicative con- between different media (in the sense of
would be e-mail communication (with text stellations with regards to different ways of technical devices) on the one hand and
types such as business e-mail or private e- sign processing that emerge when using communicative practices on the other hand.
mail), chat communication (with e.g. expert technical devices (which is a cultural process,

10plus1: Living Linguistics | Issue 1 | 2015 | Media Linguistics

Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

Technical transmission devices (or, more ances, lots of short utterances are realised but a neutral, non-medial form of communi-
generally, the mediality chosen) have an im- (so called chunks, see Spitzmller 2005: cation. Like any other communicative event,
pact on the way we use language, they take 12; Beiwenger 2007: 246-253 speaks of it is shaped by the specific materialisation
part in the constitution of sign processing. splitting) in order to cover much of the and processing of the respective signs. And it
Media therefore co-create and not merely space; and smileys are used in order to com- is for that reason that a technical conceptu-
transmit meaning (sensu Krmer 1998: 74: municate moods and attitudes, e.g. to mark alisation of media remains problematic.
[sinnmiterzeugende und nicht blo eine an utterance as ironic. At the same time technical transmission
sinntransportierende Kraft]). They leave an All these examples show that the influ- media do not completely determine lan-
unintended trace of meaning in processes ence of a medium (in the example above: the guage use: to a certain extent we always
of meaning-making (Krmer 1998: 73, my chat-specific processing of writing) goes way have the possibility to choose and it is this
translation), because every medium favours beyond modal choices (e.g., written lan- aspect of choice that allows realising cultural
and demands a specific processing of com- guage). Thus, media play their part in shaping positionings through diverse and constantly
munication. As a consequence of the tech- utterances from the very beginning, they not changing communicative practices (see Lin-
nical framework, people communicating in only determine which signs we use but they ke 2011; Luginbhl 2014a & b). If, for exam-
online-chats, for instance, are not able to also have an influence on how we use them.2 ple, journalistic texts are compared, different
interrupt each other; they cannot prevent In short: Media offer a frame that, in the pro- designs of the role of journalists can be iden-
others from taking part in communication by cess of utterance production already, has an tified (e.g., supposedly neutral disseminators
producing long utterances and they cannot influence on how we design the utterance, of information vs. disseminators of values;
signal on the level of nonverbal communica- how we process signs (see Habscheid 2000: detached reporters vs. entertainers). Usually
tion whether they agree with someone elses 137; see also the medium factors discussed almost all semiotic modes are involved in the
utterance. This is due to the specific mediali- in Herring 2007; Schneider i. pr.). realisation of these roles for instance in the
ty of chat communication that is character- This is, however, also true for oral communi- case of television the chosen formulations
ised by another kind of interactivity, of sign cation. Face-to-face conversation is anything are involved as well as the staging of the
processing and multimodality compared to journalists in the footage (i.e. correspond-
oral communication in face-to-face conver- 2
Smileys are a case in point: They do not just replace ents that are live on the spot, even though
sation. The mediality of chat also influences non-verbal communication, as we are forced in face- they are actually standing in front of a green
to-face conversation to always behave nonverbally,
the design of communicative practices. Thus, while we can use smileys very selectively in chat screen) or the prosodic design of speech (see
in chat communication, instead of interrupt- communication. We cannot use them simultaneous Luginbhl 2011). Or, to give another exam-
to verbal communication though but only sequential-
ing, continuity markers are ignored (Storrer ised, i.e. before, in the middle or after a verbal utter-
ple, there are (still) bloggers who refrain
2001: 16); instead of long continuous utter- ance (see also Hinz in this issue). from posting pictures, although the medium

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

would allow to do so (see Schildhauer 2014: keywords (e.g., the hashtag #schlandkette, a that mark elementary formative forces in
318). clipping of Deutschlandkette, a necklace in communication. These medially conditioned
Due to these communicative potentials the colours of the German flag that was cultural practices can also be referred to as
that media always create, they show a cul- worn by German chancellor Angela Merkel dispositives according to Holly (2011) and
tural fitting [Zurichtung] (Linke 2008: during the television debate 2013). Technol- Jger (2010), which gradually developed
118) that results from respective media uses ogy initially offers a potential crucial for and modified on the basis of available tech-
that at the same time influences them. For communication is always the users behav- nical possibilities and social requirements
instance, quite fundamental uses of technical iour. Technical means are no media, but they (Holly 2011: 155, my translation).3
transmission resources can be subject to this have been transformed into media through Generally speaking, we can assume that
cultural fitting (e.g., telephones were origi- communicative action (Krotz 2012: 35, 45). communicative needs influence the devel-
nally also used for the transmission of con- In sum, it can be pointed out that the opment and especially the large-scale im-
certs and therefore for one-way communica- concept of the medium has various intercon- plementation of technical media and vice
tion, see Holly 1997: 74; text messages were nected aspects that are relevant for media versa allow the development of new media
initially only intended for the communication linguistics. First, there is the technical aspect techniques, new cultural production pat-
between operators and customers, see An- that concerns the production, the transmis- terns as well as new reception patterns. As
droutsopoulos & Schmidt 2002: 2; Krotz sion and the reception of signs. The second the relation between media technology,
2012: 46). But this cultural fitting especially aspect is semiotic in nature and relates to mode and design as well as cultural practice
affects the individual genres that are func- the choice, combination and processing of is accordingly complex and interdependent
tionalised through stylistic variation in the different modes such as language, image or (see Holly 2011: 155), the relation between
use of signs. We, for instance, notice differ- sound. Finally, there is the pragmatic aspect, production, product and reception is not
ences in articles in tabloid newspapers in which focuses on the cultural practices modelled as a simple cycle anymore, but as
comparison to articles in subscription news- based on changing communicative needs of network with a multitude of flows, resulting
papers. Another example would be a private an institution or of other social groups, in- in complex communicative connectivities
as opposed to public use of new digital gen- cluding different practices regarding produc- (see Hepp 2006). This is even more neces-
res. This cultural fitting can also lead to tion and reception. These practices lead to sary as new media such as tablets,
changes in the technical transmission device. the fitting of technical media and even up to smartphones and smartwatches result in the
In the case of Twitter for example, a twitter- their modification. As the media influence media increasingly permeating our lives, in
er made a suggestion that led to the imple- the way we use signs as well as our cultural
mentation of the hashtag function (#; see practices influence the way we use media, it 3
Elsewhere Holly also links mediality to oral commu-
Moraldo 2009: 206). This allows labelling is the notions of mediality and culturality nication (Holly 2011: 149f.).

10plus1: Living Linguistics | Issue 1 | 2015 | Media Linguistics

Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

which we easily switch between writing and on perception and therefore also on a per- ly expand communication, are involved (in
reading, between producing and receiving. ceptible materialisation: all forms of human terms of extension, see Schulz 2004: 88).
Furthermore the web 2.0 gives us the possi- interaction are mediated in one way or an- Thus, the limitations of the media linguistic
bility to make our text publicly available in a other (Livingstone & Lunt 2014: 717). Thus, subjects of investigation can be described
very easy way. A related concept is mediati- every linguistic expression, either spoken or based on the use of technical tools. This can
zation, which tries to describe the complex written, is materialised and mediated, be- be done, however, without having to put
relations between the media, communica- cause it somehow has to be processed these tools on the same level as media.
tion and society (see Androutsopoulos 2014; through the choice of materialisation. Fur-
Hepp 2014; Lundby 2014; Strmbck & Es- thermore, it has to be noticed that communi- Current Tendencies
ser 2014). cation cannot take place without materiali-
For a long time, media linguistics has focused
If we consider the three aspects of pro- sation. Media linguitics, then, defines itself
on the use of language in journalistic prod-
duction, product and reception in a multidi- through a specific perspective, namely on
ucts. Current media linguistic tendencies
mensional media linguistic understanding of media as a force co-creating meaning and on
expand this focus in different directions. I
the term medium, we can conceptualise me- cultural linguistic practices. These can be
would like to single out three of these direc-
dia according to Schneider (2008, i. pr.) as understood as processes of sign use, which
tions: the expansion on non-linguistic or par-
specific socially-constituted procedures are processurally, semiotically and pragma-
alinguistic signs (multimodality), the expan-
(my translation) of sign processing. Accord- culturally characterised as well as character-
sion of a cultural dimension (culturality) and
ing to this theory, a medium is a way and ising. However it can be mentioned that me-
the expansion on the whole communicative
manner of communication processing that dia linguistics for a long time restricted itself
process (including the production and recep-
encompasses the production, distribution to journalistic mass media and on interper-
tion). The current media linguistic expansion
and reception, it takes part in the transmis- sonal communication, in which technical
on interpersonal communication in digital
sion and constitution of sign processing. This tools are employed.
media has previously been mentioned. Due
concept of media can, depending on the re- Face-to-face communication as the orig-
to lack of space, a few references to current
search interest, be understood as rather inal form of communication shows important
publications will have to suffice: Thurlow &
wide (spoken language, Internet, see Marx & differences to communication that uses
Mroczek (2011), Siever & Schlobinski (2012),
Weidacher 2014: 71-90) or narrow (mobile technical tools. In face-to-face communica-
Herring et al. (2013), Bedjis et al. (2014),
phone calls). tion, neither a third party as for instance
Marx & Weidacher (2014), Schildhauer
If one accepts this view of medium, then distributors/sales partners or operators (in-
(2014), Locher et al. (2015), Tagg (2015); see
there is no non-medial communication be- terpreters are an exception here), nor any
also Pflaeging, Kerschensteiner in this issue.
cause communication is always dependent device, which would temporarily and spatial-

10plus1: Living Linguistics | Issue 1 | 2015 | Media Linguistics

Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

Multimodality texts (such as Straner 2002; Stckl 2004; However, if we acknowledge the fact that
Jewitt 2014; Zantides 2014), but also a language is always dependent on materiali-
Media linguistic analyses have considered broad range of individual analyses (see con- sation, then pure language cannot exist (see
images next to verbal text for a long time, tributions in anthologies Fix & Wellmann Holly 2011, 2013). Therefore, aspects such
especially in the cases of television (see 2000; Eckkrammer & Held 2006; Spitzmller as typography or colouring and potentially
Ballstaedt 1976; Muckenhaupt 1986), or & Roth 2007; Deppermann & Linke 2010; also lines, bars, colour patches etc. also play
advertisement (see Schberle 1984; Stckl Dieckmannshenke et al. 2011; Schneider & an important role as far as verbal texts are
1997). However, when it comes to television Stckl 2011; see Kilchr, Domke, Siefkes, concerned. Texts as interwoven products
texts, the relation between language and and Pflaeging in this volume). This im- are never purely verbal. So if a semiotic no-
images has almost always been approached portance of a multimodal analysis of media tion of text is taken into consideration, indi-
from a logocentric perspective (see Holly texts derives from the meaning potentials vidual modes still have to be analysed by
2005). that are generated through the integration means of specific analytical grids. Even in
Since the end of the 20th century, how- of different semiotic modes (e.g., language, pictorial linguistics [Bildlinguistik] the
ever, non-linguistic and para-linguistic signs image and sound) as well as through their fact that semiotically images function differ-
have been taken into account to an increas- interaction. What is relevant here is that ently than language is uncontested. This re-
ing extent. Such innovative perspectives on modes can be materialised in various ways sults in the claim that individual modes first
media texts were prompted by visible inno- (for instance as spoken or written language, have to be analytically separated and then
vations in their design, especially the grow- a photograph or a painting, music or noises scrutinised according to a mode-specific
ing importance of images in online and print etc.) and that text designs can also be ar- analytical framework without neglecting
newspapers (see for instance Bucher 1995 ranged differently. Thus, compared to previ- the fact that meaning is realised through the
on text design in press reports or Schmitz ous media linguistic studies multimodal combination of all modes involved (see, e.g.,
2001 on online newspapers). The concept of analyses focus less on language alone but Bateman 2014).
multimodality that has been developed with- they usually shift their focus to media semiot-
in the field of social semiotics (van Leeu- ic studies. Accordingly, we could ask if we Culturality
wen 2005; Kress & van Leeuwen 2006; see should still use the notion of media texts or
also Ruiz 2013) is particularly productive in rather limit the notion of text to linguistic Over the past years a culture-linguistic
media linguistics. instances. Adamzik (2004: 43) suggests the paradigm, based on studies of contrastive
Nowadays, there are not only funda- notion of Kommunikat as an alternative for textology (Eckkrammer et al. 1999; Pckl
mental works on the multimodality of media multimodal complexes. 1999; Adamzik 2001; Fix et al. 2001; Lger &

10plus1: Living Linguistics | Issue 1 | 2015 | Media Linguistics

Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

Lenk 2008; Hauser & Luginbhl 2012) and perspective in which the way and manner of negotiation processes. Particularly relevant
on the pragmatic history of language (Sitta language use, and thereby the linguistic in this perspective are genres, which can be
1980; Linke 1996; Cherubim 1998), devel- form, becomes especially relevant. understood as established patterns of cul-
oped in media linguistics (see, e.g., Tienken Whenever people solve communicative tural practices (as e.g. editorials, see
2008; Klemm & Michel 2014; Luginbhl tasks (e.g., reporting in a newspaper or acting Kerschner in this issue; or viral online gen-
2014 a & b). This paradigm also refers to as a funny person in a Facebook-update), res, see Pflaeging in this issue).
sociolinguistic and ethnographic studies (see they always have the choice between vari- This approach does not follow the con-
Gnthner & Linke 2006; Senft 2006). Cul- ous forms. And it is the possible variation of tent vs. form dichotomy. Instead, it under-
ture-linguistics assumes that common val- communicative forms within the same task stands form as implying meaning, thereby
ues and norms from (small or large) groups that adds a cultural value to the single forms, creating links to conceptions of style put
have to be negotiated, established, passed in other words a surplus of semiotic meaning forward by Sandig (2006) or Devitt (2009).
on and changed during semiotically based potential (see Linke 2003: 42). They can ac- In contrast to classic antiquity where style
interactions (see Klemm & Michel in this tually be used for social purposes of self- was seen as ornamental guise that should be
issue). They actually have to be negotiated in presentation, integration or distinction. This added at the end of the production process,
this context because human beings only phenomenon is central for digital communi- these approaches conceive of style holisti-
have access to the world through the use and cation on social platforms, where identity cally as a socially meaningful way of per-
the mediation of symbolic forms (see Cassi- negotiations take place exclusively (or at forming an action (Sandig 2006: 17). In this
rer 2001-2002 [1923-1924]). Humans are least primarily) in a verbal way. Within the concept, form and content combine to create
symbolically mediated beings (Krotz 2012: field of journalistic mass media, different a specific gestalt that generates meanings
39, my translation) which constitute them- forms of news coverage establish different which are more than the sum of its parts.
selves through communication (see Krotz journalistic cultures (Hanitzsch 2007; Hepp This renders such conception of style partic-
2012: 39-44). et al. 2010; Brggemann 2011; Hanitzsch et ularly useful for analyses of multimodal
Consequently, this means that the se- al. 2011; Hanitzsch & Donsbach 2012). This communication. With regards to media lin-
miotic and linguistic conception of the world culture has different values and norms as guistics, this approach enables us to inter-
always also to certain extents constitutes for instance a focus on citizens or on con- pret linguistic forms in terms of culture and
this world. Culture is dependent on commu- sumers. Thus culture-linguistics allows relat- to account for journalistic and group-related
nication and all communication always re- ing the stylistic analysis of linguistic forms to cultures. In such an interpretive process, the
lies on culture and is contextualized by cul- a macro-level of cultural values and norms. central status of media technology needs to
ture (Krotz 2012: 39, my translation). A Thereby, the linguistic form turns out to be be taken into account, as it contributes sub-
cultural approach to media texts opens up a constitutive of certain aspects of cultural stantially to the shape and development of

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

culture and thereby influences our action as Production Product - Reception Concerning text production, media lin-
well as our attitudes even beyond specific guistic studies used to be limited to inter-
topics. A third development concerns the expansion views with journalists that did not cover spe-
Methodologically, such an approach of media linguistic investigations to cover cific cases (e.g. Straner 1982). In this re-
fundamentally relies on comparison, as the the whole communicative process of produc- gard, research has developed rapidly in re-
meaning of any specific form will only be- tion product reception. At the beginning, cent years (for overviews refer to Cotter
come apparent by comparing patterns and media linguistic studies concentrated on 2010; Catenaccio et al. 2011; Perrin 2013).
their variations. With regards to methods, analysing the product as the central element Studies have not only scrutinised journalistic
media linguistic studies of culture can there- of cultural meaning production.4 Based on a methods of investigation (Vokamp 2010)
fore benefit from recent developments both complex notion of media that does not re- and editorial meetings (Zampa 2015), but
in text linguistics and genre studies (e.g. duce media to tools of technological trans- also for collaborative text production, e.g. by
Scollon 2000; Drescher 2002; Yakhontova fer, however, processes of production and editors (Perrin 2011), as well as for individu-
2006; Berkenkotter 2008; Devitt 2009; reception have to be taken into account as al journalists text production (using pro-
Hauser 2010; Luginbhl 2014 a & b; see also well. The analysis of production processes gression analysis, see Perrin & Ehrensberger
Klemm & Michel in this volume), which con- allows for insights into specific aspects of the 2008, and subsequent case specific verbatim
ceive of culture not so much in homogenous, communicative context and the way in which protocols, see Gnach 2011). However, stud-
static terms (implicitly) related to a national these aspects are regarded as relevant e.g. ies on the production of media texts as part
language, but as dynamic semiotic practices by journalists and thereby shape the produc- of a daily routine in journalistic practices and
used by social groups of varying size (such as tion of text. Related to mass media, these in our everyday lives remain a desideratum.
the editorial staff of TV shows or a girls contextual aspects concern the wider con- Just as investigations of production, re-
clique, see Voigt 2015). Besides synchronic text of the media market, policies impacting ception studies have long been a subject of
comparisons, diachronic studies of specific the media, the audience targeted, the tech- media science. Works in the field of cultural
media texts can be conducted, as they would nological equipment, guidelines and pro- studies demonstrated early that recipients
be especially well-suited to relate cultural cesses of the editorial staff as well as negoti- read media texts in ways that can contradict
change to language change. ations concerning the structure of any spe- the intended readings of the authors (Fiske
cific text in the case of collaborative writing. 1987: 62-83). A large media linguistic re-
search project in Germany (Holly et al. 2001)
analysed the communication among TV
The product is object of production and reception
and as such combines both aspects, see Lnenborg
viewers and was able to show in great detail
2005: 69-71. in which ways viewers appropriate media

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Martin Luginbhl | Media Linguistics: On Mediality and Culturality

texts (see also Klemm & Michel in this issue). medical communication on the web, is able be exploited , it can and should contribute
It showed in particular that viewers establish to show how media affordances facilitate the to this emerging paradigm. Thereby, media
links between media texts and their own hybridization of lay as well as experts per- linguistics can add to our understanding of
experience. Bucher (2010, 2011) or Schu- spectives with regards to medicine. This, in how digital media and the industries in its
macher (2009) analyse the reception of mul- turn, leads to modifications of claims of background change our ways of communica-
timodal texts (e.g. print and online newspa- knowledge, depictions of reality and action tion, how they influence social representa-
pers, ads) by means of eye-tracking studies. orientations (Tienken 2014: 31, my transla- tion and, thereby, address questions of pow-
They have shown that recipients solve cer- tion). Such studies allow us to analyse the er and resistance, impacting our everyday
tain problems of reception (like orienting or appropriation of media through usage. On life, our societies and identities.
navigating) in certain phases. Furthermore, the basis of the texts, it is also possible to
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10plus1: Living Linguistics | Issue 1 | 2015 | Media Linguistics