4.3.1 The increase in multimodal texts

We are accustomed to certain types of multimodal texts, such as films, television and advertising. These have been studied in terms of the semiotic modes they use. In the case of advertisements, the research agenda is often to unravel and make explicit the strategies that are being used to persuade us to buy the product. Advertisements frequently encourage us to make links between semiotic modes which are actually present in the text (e.g., words and pictures) and further semiotic modes which are not (an image of snow-covered mountains is equated to the taste of yoghurt or the smell of chocolate, for example).

As well as these more ‘traditional’ texts, however, computers have rapidly increased the extent and range of multimodal communication we encounter. Unlike early computers which required written commands to be entered, all modern computer systems use desktop screens with visual icons that users click to start programs. Programs themselves rely on the use of button bars (icons) to perform most functions, and if we use CD-ROMs or the internet we are immediately immersed in multimodality – sounds, images, video clips, radio programmes, music.

4.3 Widening interest in multimodal texts

4.3.2 Understanding multimodal texts