Recontextualisation, resemiotisation and their analysis in terms of an FDG-based framework

John H. Connolly


“Recontextualisation” is the process whereby content that has been given expression in one context (the “source” context) is subsequently reused in a different context (the “destination” context). It is often accompanied by “resemiotisation”, the process whereby content is lifted from one text (the “antecedent” text, situated in the source context) and recast in a modified form during the production of a subsequent text (the “derivative” text, situated in the destination context). The aim of the present paper is to evaluate the adequacy of FDG, incorporating an extended model of context (EMC), as a basis for the analysis of the process of recontextualisation and of the accompanying resemiotisation. The study is based on the analysis of a corpus of texts consisting of one antecedent and six derivative texts, all drawn from the field of science communication. The texts are subjected to a contextual analysis in terms of the categories afforded by an analytical framework based on the EMC. From these contextual analyses, the differences between the source context and each of the six destination contexts are identified. These differences encapsulate the changes that constitute the essence of recontextualisation. In addition, each of the texts is analysed in terms of a three-tier framework based as far as possible on FDG. The resulting analyses are then compared, in order to identify the changes that constitute the essence of resemiotisation. Finally, the relationship between the recontextualisation and resemiotisation is discussed. From the point of view of evaluating the linguistic models employed, it transpires that the categories offered by the EMC appear to be viable as units for the analysis of recontextualisation. As for the analysis of resemiotisation, it turns out that a theoretical foundation for a substantial part of this, though not all, can be supplied by current FDG.

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