Saturday, November 05, 2016

Analysing Graphology

Getting the most from Graphology

Whatever exam board you are studying for English Language A-Level, you need to remember that Graphology is not, in itself, one of the higher scoring key constituents / frameworks when it comes to textual analysis. Observations such as, "The text is written in red because it is about donating blood" might well be accurate, but it's also not rocket science. 

Personally, I like Graphology to be described in terms of Text-Image Cohesion. In short, how visual devices or aids are used to support the text in achieving its purpose, appealing to its audience or how it works in tandem with other key constituents / frameworks of language. Let's look at a simple example. 

An early reader book for young children may have limited text on the page, with a sketch of the scene dominating the space. Here we have text-image cohesion because the picture is replicating the actions described by the simple sentences which comprise high frequency, low register lexis. Already, we have linked graphology, syntax and lexis. Now let's add purpose. 

This meets the needs of the reader as it helps to place the actions described in a more familiar context. The young reader's limited experience of life and language is being taken into consideration and the text-image cohesion adds to their understanding of events and sequencing. 

We can extend this to older readers who may enjoy comic strips or graphic novels. Perhaps the call-outs or text use exclamative forms or incorporate non-standard orthography to create phonological effects (think about Batman's famous fight scenes where punches are accompanied with lexical coinages such as 'thwack!'; 'kaboosh'; 'schlumpf'... The list is endless. Here the text-image cohesion allows us to better engage with the text as a 'realistic' recreation of a fight, or it might create humour in terms of the hyperbolic language which accompanies such pained facial expressions. 

In this example, we have managed to squeeze in orthography and phonology. In doing this, we have elevated the status of graphology to a potentially high scoring point of observation. Why? Because we are not analysing it in isolation, but as a component of the text. Ideally, texts should always be made up of complementary techniques. The trick for candidates is to join the dots between each. 

This is not to say that we can't be simplistic in order to bag a few easy points. If a text about an aquarium is predominantly blue and turquoise, it would be foolish to ignore the observation and the reasons for it. Likewise, if a text uses a high incidence of emojis (emoticons, or whatever they're called this week), then make the observation that the text is probably targeting a younger audience familiar with the phenomenon or that it is trying to convey a sense of face to face communication by expressing, visually, ideas that brief words alone cannot convey adequately. 

Graphology can take many forms - even something as obvious as pictorial representations to support instructions on something like a diagram from IKEA. Just try to link your observations to the text as a whole or, at the very least, as something which complements or makes possible another linguistic technique present in the text. 

Connections between texts on Paper 1: dealing with AO4

Question 3 on Paper 1 has often been a bit of a low-scorer for students and you can maybe see why. It comes an hour in to the exam, and you’...