Pragmatic and stylistic persperctives on British and American COVID-19 cartoons

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The research aims to compare and contrast British and American visual communication texts which are based on the combination on semiotically diverse modes. Using Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis the paper explores the way a specific segment of reality - the COVID-19 pandemic - is covered in political cartoons that employ the same language but are grounded in different cultural settings. To this end, a contrastive analysis of editorial cartoons used in British and American mass media was carried out. The sample encompasses 130 British and 130 American graphical texts published in 2020-2021 on the web sites of The Guardian and U.S. News & World Report . The article focuses on the way the new meaning is produced due to the interaction of visual and verbal modes using the information shared by members of a specific linguacultural community. At first the pragmatic and functional properties of the sample texts are examined, then the stylistic features of the texts’ verbal components are studied. Taking a functional perspective, the research reveals the marked differences in two respective samples: the British COVID-19 cartoons criticize the government’s policies, whereas the American ones do not only satirize but also acclaim, creating a positive image of those responsible for vaccination production and rolling out. They tend to use slogans to mobilize the public, performing the function typical of political posters. Drawing on the stylistic analysis of linguistic resources, the paper analyzes the differences in registers and rhetorical means used by British and American cartoonists to shape their messages. Both pragmatic aspects of the cartoons and the choice of stylistic devices used in their linguistic elements proved to be culture-specific, despite the similarity of issues the texts address. The research elucidates the way the cultural landscape affects the meaning-building processes in multimodal texts that employ different variants of the same language.

About the authors

Svetlana Y. Pavlina

Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod

Author for correspondence.
PhD, is Associate Professor at the Higher School of Translation and Interpreting 31a Minin str., Nizhny Novgorod, 603155, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2022 Pavlina S.Y.

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