conference abstract: graphic visualisation

this weekend here at sydney uni, the 2nd annual free linguistics conference is being held. plenty of interesting papers for linguists of all persuasions, but i am especially motivated to check out michele & colleague’s latest work on the graphic visualisation of text analytic work…


Bandar Almutairi, University of Sydney, Australia;
Michele Zappavigna, University of Sydney, Australia.

Texts can be intractable. As discourse analysts, we are limited by the extent to which our perceptual systems can detect long-range and complex patterns in discourse, even where we have manually annotated the data. Since a text is more than a bag of words, clauses or any other structure (Martin, 1985) we need technology that can assist the analyst in achieving both a synoptic and dynamic perspective on their text analyses. This paper develops a text visualisation strategy that leverages periodicity, how information is organised as a text unfolds (Halliday, 1985; Martin & Rose, 2007). Since periodicity is “concerned with information flow – with the way in which meanings are packaged to make it easier for us to take them in” (Martin & Rose, 2007: 188), we argue that the intangible time of a text can be measured by a complex unit based on this concept. We use mathematical interpolation to produce representations of waves of periodicity that can be used as a time reference helping us to visualise the distribution of other linguistic systems (e.g. Appraisal, Process-Type etc.) throughout the text. We use this method to detect patterns in these features in terms of their relative distance from the peaks of the waves. The method can be used recursively (e.g. nested functions; functions of functions) to create waves of waves corresponding to patterns of patterns at the same stratum or generalized to include components from higher or lower strata in language. We apply the method in a pilot study to compare the unfolding of prosodies of evaluative meaning in two texts annotated using Appraisal Theory (Martin & White, 2005). A long term aim of this project is to develop a metalanguage, as Zhao (forthcoming) has suggested, for describing the kinds of logogenetic patterns, in other words, patterns of unfolding meaning, that are possible in texts.

their work is very much related to our ongoing interest here, in visualising the dynamics of interaction. data visualisation. interaction is mediated through writing, or recorded in writing using a transcript of spoken conversation, or having a video text of a multi-modal event. such a transcript can then be analysed using any number of approaches or frameworks. the next step is to create a ‘transformation’ of that analysis into a diagram which represents the interaction according to whatever elements or figures we are interested in examining – and then further transforming at will those elements cross-referenced by other elements or figures to reveal correlations and new figures that are not immediately obvious from raw analysis alone.

data modeling from 2003

hugh’s earlier post of this ‘ted talk’ to the list now bears a new watching i think – not only for the content, but for the ideas re modelling data.

elements of a post: dtd

this post reproduces the DTD i used (developed as i went) to segment approx 400 posts to the list – what i deemed a representative sample (see my thesis for reasoning) – in order to get an idea of the recurrent stages or moves typcially appearing in them.

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outlining posting norms

first an outline of the ‘typical’ or norm-al moves or stages in a post to the list. as generalisation, it pretty well covers all bases. as abstraction, however, there will be exceptions of course.

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I wish I had that hat *and* more meaning in my life…

Sending the geek-meter all the way into the red –

Lexicographer Erin McKean redefines the dictionary, explains the ham butt problem, and reminds us what every child knows.

(This dedicated amateur must now go hug his dictionary.)

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