A Socio-pragmatic Interpretation of Cartoons as Visio-verbal Communication

By Godwin I. N. Emezue.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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Cartoons have become one of the most penetrating modes of social criticism. Such is the communicative potency of cartoons that many a reader has become addicted to the editorial cartoon page of their favorite newspaper or magazine. Using cartoons from two widely read Nigerian newspapers as paradigms; this paper explores how cartoons mean and communicate, using insights from pragmatics and sociolinguistics. The paper posits that even though cartoons are commonly viewed as caricatured drawings the aim of which is to create humour, they should be seen more as carefully structured means of communication in the pedigree of verbal language. Apart from the drawing, the message of a cartoon is also contained in the accompanying words, phrases and/or sentences; hence, cartoons constitute a form of visual-cum-verbal discourse whose meaning and communication potentials deserve some scholarly attention. My conclusion is that cartoons can only communicate the intended meaning and message in context where both the cartoonist’s presuppositions and reader’s inferences are correct.

Keywords: Cartoon, Discourse, Communication, Language, Pragmatics

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3-4, January 2015, pp.13-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 991.414KB).

Dr. Godwin I. N. Emezue

Senior Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State, Nigeria

I am a senior lecturer in the department of English Language and Literature. I teach Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Phonology of English, Introduction to Semantics. My research interests are in pragmatics, stylistics, text and applied linguistics, semantics and discourse analysis.