The concept of cotext It is used in the field of linguistics to refer to set of elements that precede or follow a phrase or a term, determining its meaning or its adequate interpretation. It is important to bear in mind, however, that the notion has different scopes according to the semiologist who uses it.
It can be said that the cotext is a group of linguistic signs that maintain an interrelation with a sentence or with a word in a given situation. Meanwhile he context (with N) is responsible for relating a sign with others that have the same characteristics and that are part of the same situation of existence, the cotext (without N) relates the sign with other signs that have different characteristics or that, although they share characteristics, they are in a situation of existence that is different.
As you can see, both for their similarity in writing and in meaning, cotext and context are two ideas that are often confused and in which their differences are often not clear. There are those who even maintain that the cotext is a context level that provides information from the closest textual environment (what was expressed before or what is expressed below). In this sense, the context would also have other levels, such as external knowledge, data from other texts, etc.
In order to understand, therefore, the difference between context and co-text, we can state that the former is that set of signs and semiotic characteristics similar to those under study, which have a certain connection and which are interesting to discover in this regard. On the other hand, the cotext comes to take place when a sign is linked and related to others with different characteristics or with others that do have similar or different characteristics that are in another existential situation.
In this way, we can establish that the context of an icon would be made up of other icons while its co-text would be made up of what are symbols, for example.
In summary, it can be said that the co-text is made up of those linguistic elements that condition the interpretation of a phrase or a term, including it, preceding it or following it in the text.
When talking about co-text, it is also common for another very relevant term to come to light. We are referring to the so-called paratext. This is used to mention what is the set of statements that come to accompany the main text. Thus, for example, one would speak of paratext to mention the index, what would be the preface, the title and the subtitle, the footnotes, the dedication …
In this case, we need to further establish that there are two types of paratext. In this way, on the one hand, there is the editorial, which receives that name because it is made by the publisher, and that can be composed of aspects such as copyright, the cover, the catalog … On the other hand, there is the author’s paratext , which is carried out by the author and includes statements such as the epigraph or the dedication.