The language of forms: A discourse analysis of municipal application forms.
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This thesis focuses on the genre of municipal documents (application forms) and the variety of written and visual languages that make up their corpus to reveal the various lexical semantics used in the forms as communication tool between individuals and the larger organisations. It was important to review not only how other researchers have dissected such documents, but also what they have used to study their corpus. The thesis also provides a thorough overview of literature pertaining to forms from the municipal and governmental sector as it relates to social semiotics, genre, corporate identity, branding and multimodality. As there was not enough empirical data or research from the African or non-European perspective, a wider literature review was needed to enable me to use a number of complimentary models that could fit the study area. Drawing on a theoretical framework based on the fields of Social Semiotics (Kress 2010; 2014), Applied Linguistics (Brumfit 1996) and Visual Communication (Tam 2008) as well as analytical tools like the genre and multimodality model (GeM), as described in Bateman (2008) and the grammar of visual design (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2006), branding and language ideology, the study offers an analysis of the language of particular forms used widely by the City of Cape Town (CCT). The language of forms in essence is as unique as a dialogue held between two people to obtain information. Misunderstanding and communication can easily occur if the questions and sections are not formulated correctly. Although both the textual and visual modes were investigated, the aim was to uncover the corpora used on forms with which a basic set of standard words, phrases and sentences could be designed. If the language of forms in a particular organisation like the CCT can be standardised, the amount of effort on the language practitioners will decrease, and the textual components can be made available in all three of the official languages (Afrikaans, isiXhosa and English) in as simple a language structure as possible.