Specialized and culture-bound knowledge dissemination through spoken tourism discourse: Multimodal strategies in guided tours and documentaries


The distinctive features of most instances of tourism discourse are their predominantly low specialization and their hybrid generic and semantic nature. Tourism discourse draws from a range of genres and specialized domains, including but not limited to art, history, economics, architecture, and geography to name but a few. Through its communicative strategies, it leads the tourists and their “tourist gaze” (Urry 2002) in their real or imaginary journey, it mediates the tourist experience and contributes to closing the gap between their culture and the destination’s culture. These leading and mediating operations are performed by making culture-specific knowledge and specialized concepts accessible to the general public (Cappelli 2016; Cappelli, Masi forthcoming). For this reason, tourism discourse offers an ideal vantage point to investigate popularization and knowledge dissemination strategies. Much linguistic research on written tourism discourse has been carried out over the past two decades. However, to the best of our knowledge, spoken genres remain largely unexplored with few exceptions. Our study intends to contribute to closing that gap by investigating the way in which multimodal semiotic resources are exploited in oral communication in tourism to make specialized and culture-bound concepts accessible to the audience. First, we present the data obtained by the analysis of a small sample of clips of guided tours and documentaries representing various domains. Then, we illustrate the way in which verbal and non-verbal strategies are used to create accessibility in a genre-specific way. Finally, we propose a classification of the data analysed as belonging to three strictly interconnected and yet distinct genres, namely documentaries, “docu-tours” and guided tours, and we provide some conclusions regarding the relevance of the study for professional development and pedagogical applications.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v40p213

Keywords: accessibility; ESP; genre; multimodality; tourism discourse


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