Unseen Text: Enter Tasmania’s Labyrinth
Text Type: Travel Writing – Guidebook – Advertisement
Guiding Question: In what ways does the interplay between image, layout and language help the guide to achieve its purpose?
Travel writing in different forms is a relatively popular text type that you might encounter when you sit your Paper 1 exam. Travel writing is very flexible in form; it may be autobiographical, descriptive, literary or, like today’s text, persuasive. Travel guidebooks and brochures seek to arouse a reader’s curiosity, giving them a tantalising glimpse of the experiences and adventures that await in a particular destination. They appeal to our desire to find out more information, or to go on a journey of discovery. Today’s post was written by Azaliia Kaibysheva as a practice analysis. Writing like this in Paper 1 will certainly let her score high marks – perhaps even 20/20. Notice how part of this assessment is being able to choose precise elements of the text that support your argument. Much of the copy has been left unquoted by Azaliia in this response; for that reason, alternative responses can also be completely valid.
This passage – a tourist guide for a Tasmanian website – was written by Kathryn Leahy in 2016. It describes and informs the reader about the Tasmanian caves and is targeted at a mass audience; one does not have to be a professional caver to visit and enjoy the caves. Publishing the guide on the internet helps the writer appeal to as wide a range of people as possible through the links and tabs that can be shared at the top of the page. In fact, the text particularly targets people who work in offices and would like a chance to ‘snap out of our WIFI induced comas, ignore the urge to check emails’ and visit the caves instead. The word ‘coma’ begins an extended metaphor describing a normal, working life staring at screens as a ‘sickness’ with a visit to the caves as a ‘medicine’ or cure. Therefore, whilst the text gives useful information, recommendations, and bright descriptions, its primary purpose is to advertise and persuade the reader to visit the caves, which are made to appear special and unique.
The layout has all formal features of a tourist guide. At the top of the page, the reader is confronted with a prominent heading in capital letters and large font. Other than showing the informative value of the article (‘guide’) it pursues a more important persuasive objective. The word ‘insider’s’ – one of the first words seen by a website visitor – gives the adventure a sense of uniqueness. It promises an exceptional experience available only to a few, special people, who will be guided by someone ‘in-the-know’. It connects to another prominent word, ‘labyrinth’, which suggests the caves are a maze that one could wander through for hours. The headings are designed to arouse curiosity, intriguing and captivating potential visitors, making them want to visit the caves.
The exceptionality of the experience is further reinforced in the subheading – another formal layout feature of a tourist guide – via language such as ‘Tasmania’s best-kept secrets’. This stirring diction leads the reader to believe that Tasmanian caves is a place worth exploring, a destination full of surprises and discoveries. It makes the experience seem not only unique, but also exciting and full of explorations, as seen in the word ‘discover’. The imperative – a formal feature of a persuasive text – helps the writer get the message across very clearly, suggesting that it is absolutely necessary to visit Tasmanian caves, the reader has to do it. Thus, the interplay between layout and language helps the writer reach their objective of persuading the audience to visit the caves.
Another prominent feature of the layout is the use of photos, as seen in any tourist guide. They serve to catch the reader’s attention via appealing to the visual sense. The bright, carefully chosen pictures make the destination appear to be an especially beautiful place full of picturesque scenery. However, the pictures are small – they only offer readers a ‘glimpse’ into the caves, and preview what they might see should they decide to visit. This effect is further reinforced by the related text. Not only does it serve the informative purpose of listing the places worth visiting (common to all tourist guides), but also provides bright descriptions of the landmarks. The emphatic figurative language such as ‘where time is measured by drips of water’ and ‘…things glow brighter without light’ transports the reader to another world very different from the normal world. It seems like in the cave strange and magical things can happen. Firstly, this helps the guide achieve its descriptive purpose, and secondly, this makes the audience more inclined to visit the Tasmanian caves.
The figurative language is, in fact, a stylistic feature of the guide and is constantly employed throughout the text in order to enhance the scenic descriptions. For example, the author likens entering a cave to ‘walking through the entrance of a David Jones store and being welcomed by a blast of cool air conditioning’. The simile in a brief but effective way conveys the pleasant feelings associated with the discovery of the caves, making it seem an appealing experience. Referring to ‘air conditioning’ and ‘David Jones store’ – something familiar to everyone working in an office and living in a city – helps the writer appeal to its target audience. Elsewhere in the descriptions, the author mostly uses simple and straightforward language such as ‘sparkling crystals’, ‘pools’ and ‘caverns.’ At one point the writer does list special features of the cave using technical terminology such as ‘stalagmites, stalactites, shawls, caverns and flowstones’ – but the guide also offers to explain these features to the reader when they visit. The rest of the text is easy to read and comprehend, thus accessible to a wide audience.
Finally, the text also employs more conventional features to give information about the cave to the reader. The author selects facts and figures to include in the guide: ‘Tassie has the deepest and longest’ cave and ‘At 394 meters below ground Niggly Cave is by far the deepest.’ The writer uses superlatives (‘deepest, longest’) and hyperbole (‘by far’) to again emphasize the special nature of the cave. The use of the nickname ‘Tassie’ (for Tasmania) is also likely to appeal to local people.
To evaluate, the main persuasive purpose of the text, along with its descriptive purpose, is achieved via a number of interconnected formal and stylistic devices. The conventional tourist guide layout, including the use of photos, helps to catch the attention of the reader, while the language used in the text creates an image of a uniquely exciting and picturesque experience that can be appealing to anyone – especially those who want ‘relief from busy routines.’
Categories:Paper 1 Analysis