Museum Text Genres

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Abstract

This study addresses the difficulty of organizing museum texts into different text genre categories. Despite having a long track record in linguistics and translation studies, museum text genres and language have hardly been addressed at all in museology. On the one hand, comprehensive research has yet to be performed on museum labels and text panels, and, on the other, there are very few reception studies aimed at gaining a real understanding of these texts. Accordingly, in this study, a descriptive typological analysis was performed on previous classifications by other authors in recent decades. To this end, in a first phase, classifications of other specialized languages, in addition to the theoretical principles of translation studies and genre theory, were employed as a model. The classifications found were then compared, and the methodological criteria by which some genres can be delimited from others have been sought. Finally, a corpus of real texts from museums located in Southern Spain (Andalusia) was created as a result of the application of this methodology, and a preliminary proposal of the museum genre ecosystem is presented, namely, their types, internal relationships, and function in the setting for which they have been written. Although it is a bottom-up study of a small group of museums, the classification system described here could have practical applications in other contexts, insofar as a more comprehensive knowledge of different text genres and their characteristics could help writers and translators in their work.