A multimodal analysis of the rhetorical devices used for meaning-making and humour in Saudi media cartoons

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Alsadi, Wejdan M.
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University College Cork
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This study is an attempt to push forward research on cartoons and humour in the Saudi context which has little scholarly attention. It is further a contribution to the growing multimodal research on non-interactional humour in the media that benefits from the traditional theories of verbal humour. The study analysed the ways visual and verbal modes interact, highlighting the multimodal manifestations of the rhetorical devices frequently employed to create meaning and humour in 202 English-language cartoons collected from the Saudi media. The five key findings relate to three areas of focus addressed in the research questions: the role of theme in the format of verbal language included in the cartoons and in the frequency of the rhetorical devices and semiotic resources employed in the cartoons, the ways frequent devices are manifested across the visual and verbal modes, and the social and cultural insights into Saudi society. The cartoons were thematically classified into four major categories: gender and family issues, social phenomena and problems, educational and technological issues, and economy and prices. The study found that theme plays a role in the verbal format and in the frequency of the devices in each category. The multimodal analysis shows that the frequent rhetorical devices such as allusions, parody, metaphor, metonymy, juxtaposition, and exaggeration take a form which is woven between the visual and verbal modes and which sometimes makes the production of humorous and satirical effect more unique and interesting. The analysis of metaphor and metonymy specifically contributes to the recently established link between multimodality and cognitive linguistics. Different aspects of constructing creative multimodal metaphors for triggering satirical effect are highlighted. The interaction between multimodal metaphors and multimodal metonymies reveals further complexities underlying humour as a phenomenon in the multimodal representation.
Humour , Rhetorical devices , Multimodality , Cartoons , Semiotic modes , Visual-verbal interaction
Alsadi, W. M. 2016. A multimodal analysis of the rhetorical devices used for meaning-making and humour in Saudi media cartoons. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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