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If this abstract was written in a highly stylized font, for example, it would seem out of place at an academic conference regardless of its contents. In other words, visual changes to a text can index a non-academic stance as quickly as the insertion of vulgarities, spelling errors, and other more commonly studied indexes.
While visual variation is a relatively minor presence in most writing, certain mediums like comics, advertising, and computer-mediated communication have long been noted to rely on the visual elements of text to create meaning.
In Japanese writing, the authors of creative texts have a unique option for further visual variation, as the Japanese writing system makes simultaneous use of three distinct scripts. Two of these, hiragana and katakana, are phonetic, while the third, kanji, is morphosyllabic.
This paper examines how variation in the orthographic representation of lexical items functions as an index throughout nine volumes of a popular Japanese comic.
All words were coded individually in relation to their orthographic representation, and contrasting uses of script for the same items were examined.
Results showed clear differences in how script is employed throught the dialogue of specific character groups in the comic, with the author indexing characters' stance and identity through an orthographic channel. While the data focuses on Japanese writing, the results show implications for a more global phenomenon, wherein visual elements play a role in the creation and delivery of meaning.
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