Cognitive “warning signs” in human trafficking media texts
Elina PaliichukBorys Grinchenko Kyiv Metropolitan University, Ukraine
Elina Paliichuk holds a PhD in Linguistics and works as an Assistant Professor, a Lecturer of Stylistics at the Department of Linguistics and Translation of Borys Grinchenko Kyiv Metropolitan University, Ukraine. Her area of academic activity embraces a series of studies on human trafficking in media, including a thesis on frame modelling and research in the framework of WHTV (warn human trafficking victim) initiative, with a particular focus on metaphor, transportation effect and narrative analysis, storytelling techniques, and image schemas, revealed in discourses and tested by empirical methods. Another activity concerns the translation of legal texts and translation studies, in particular, in the role of an Associate Translation Fellow at EU-funded Project “Association4U” (2017-2019) aimed at support of the harmonisation of the Ukrainian legislation with the standards of EU legal documents.
This paper focuses on image schema manifestations in media texts on human trafficking, which may perform the role of “warning” signals in anti-trafficking media campaigns. For this, a conceptual analysis was done to establish profiled image schemas, and a survey was conducted to measure the reader’s response to two types of texts on human trafficking (HT), different in genre and schemata organisation. The texts were selected as experimental material representing typical human trafficking media discourse. The participants were divided into control (G1) and experimental (G2) groups according to the type of text they were exposed to. G1 read an expository text (T1) and G2 read a media narrative (T2). The respondents of G2 showed a significant tendency for a higher degree of involvement in the problem of human trafficking when reading T2 as contrasted to the responses of G1 to T1. G2 identified their reaction as a feeling being in danger. Looking back to T2, it was clear that respondents reacted to verbal manifestations of prevailing CONTAINMENT and SCALE/ PROCESS/UP schemata clusters. G1 gave the weaker emotional response to T1 with verbal manifestations of UP, BLOCKAGE, and COUNTERFORCE schemata. It can be assumed that CONTAINMENT is the image schema organising spatial representation of human trafficking from the victim’s perspective, conveying the feeling of being contained, being in a difficult situation, being in an enclosed space, supported with other schemata manifestations through the lens of the concept of bigness, large scale, growing process, etc. The results may be used in anti-trafficking content as a new methodology for raising awareness in a target audience vulnerable to HT.