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Was macht Hypertext mit Text? Textlinguistische Einsichten in das be- und entgrenzende Wirken von Paratext und Text in Hypertext

This dissertation focuses on the question how text and paratext contribute to the way that text in a network-like environment is clearly bordered and at the same time can easily be linked to other texts.

Birgitta Bexten
21 April 2010
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Hypertexts are special. Due to their network-like structure, the text consists of individual segments. Every text segment has to be written in such a way that it can be read independently. This is necessary because unlike in linear texts, the text segments are not presented in a single standardised sequence. Instead, they are mutually connected through hyperlinks. The actual order of the segments only arises in the process of reading. In this setting, the hyperlinks do not only connect text parts, but also play a role with respect to the content. The word that is marked as a hyperlink predicts the content of the linked text segment. What you get is a network of separate text parts that are related based on content. 

Looking at hypertexts from a text linguistic point of view shows that you can build a new hypertext with various text segments from different existing hypertexts. The reader would not even notice that these segments actually belong to different texts. Apparently, the text itself cannot mark its own borders. In a network-like environment, this is the task of the paratext, e.g. layout, title or menu. If you click on a hyperlink, the layout for example tells you immediately if you are still reading the same hypertext. 

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