A 'functional' projection from visual contrast to mode

Creating building blocks for reading multimodal visual narrative


  • Xiran Yang Shanghai Jiao Tong University




Mode, Multimodal Discourse, Function, Semiotics


In multimodal visual narratives such as Japanese manga, meaning is created through components of different modes - from verbals to onomatopoeias, emblems, and graphics. With the aim of integrating different modes (from text to image) so as to suggest an integrated solution that collectively defines the composing elements of comics, this paper proposes a Function of Mode, which applies semiotic and mathematical principles to expound on the subconscious process of recognizing visual contrasts that are drawn, printed or digitally displayed into various modes that form the building blocks of multimodal discourse. This function sits at the base of multiliteracy for understanding multimodal visual narrative and enables the reader to distinguish different modes by accentuating relevant semiotic channels of meaningmaking - iconicity for imagistic description, symbolization for linguistic features, entitativity for metaphorizing and visualizing non-graphic images, and diegesis for demarcating which elements are meaningful, ideationally or interpersonally.

Author Biography

Xiran Yang, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Dr. Xiran Yang is affiliated to the School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.


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How to Cite

Yang, X. (2019). A ’functional’ projection from visual contrast to mode: Creating building blocks for reading multimodal visual narrative. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 13(1-2), 96–117. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.36177