A corpus-based study in comparing the multimodality of Chinese- and English- language newspapers

Kenneth C C KONG

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This cross-cultural study involves a comparison of 55 pairs of global news items in Chinese- and English-language tabloid newspapers collected during a two-month period in 2009. Drawing on Bateman's Multimodality and Genre (2008), the news articles were analyzed in terms of their base unit realizations, which can be sub-divided into three categories: text-typographic, photo-pictorial and diagram-representational units. The results show that Chinese news tends to employ more photo-pictorial elements, such as photos, icons and arrows, exemplifying the atomization or compartmentalization approach in layout design. Icons and arrows are also argued to have the interpersonal function of building rapport with the audience and the organizational function of helping readers to navigate. English news tends to adopt larger pictures as background, on which other elements are embedded in a more complex manner, exemplifying the graphic composite approach in visual layout. English news also features more text-typographic units because of embedded typographic units, such as capitalized and bold-face fonts, that substitute for the stress patterns in spoken English. Diagrams (such as tables and lists), which serve the function of providing additional information, are more common in Chinese news. It is argued that, although Chinese newspapers exhibit a globalized 'inverted pyramid' structure in their written forms, a more fragmented approach of atomization is still preferred in the overall layout of Chinese newspapers. This research highlights the importance of studying the 'local' experience of globalization

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-196
Number of pages24
JournalVisual Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

User-Defined Keywords

  • corpus-based study
  • intercultural communication
  • multimodal analysis
  • newspapers
  • visuals


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