Newspaper Discourse

Newspaper Discourse

Foucault (1974) discusses Discourse in terms of language link with culture, making its direct reference with the Newspapers as it is related to the social function of language. Discourse claims that the language used about a particular practice constructs the object of which it speaks.

In contrast to two major models, the Van Dijk’s social cognitive model and Wodak’s discourse historic model, Fairclough (1995) resorts to discourse analysis oriented towards sociolinguistics and to social theories regarding discourse in order to create a theoretical framework of CDA with three dimensions. Through these theories he studied the existing relationship between discourse and larger structures of society. In his study, the very first dimension is discourse as a text. Its goal is the study of different features in a text regarding discourses and it also inquires text sign, the reasons for this design, and other different possibilities. Through examining the choices of the linguistic forms of texts, it aims at revealing the function of such textual features and its role in production or resistance of the systems of ideology and power hierarchy. The second dimension of his study is discourse as material practice. It examines the process of its production, circulation and consumption.

For Fairclough (1992), the three dimensions of discourses respectively correspond to three analytical traditions. They are linguistics tradition with close textual and linguistic analysis; the macro sociological tradition with an emphasis on social structures; and the interpretive or micro sociological tradition that stresses individual action and agency.

CDA methods state that the discourse in newspaper forms a circular process. In it, social roles as well as different practices interfere with the text, as they shape its context and production manner. In a similar way, newspaper texts also have an influence in society by shaping the readers’ points of view (Richardson, 2007). Textual analysis is the first level of analysis in the Newspaper discourse, as it conveys the imprint of society i.e. connoted and denoted meanings. Occasionally reports of events are not entirely true or objective; they employ rhetorical strategies that are called rhetorical tropes. Corbett (1990) defined a trope as something that deviates from the original, ordinary meaning of a word (p. 426).

Newspaper discourse is characterized by following important features (see Bell, 1991, p.85; Fairclough, 1995a, p.36 and Biber, 1993, p.246): First, it has multiple creator or designers and a complex process of news writing news should be conceived as a product that derives from organizational structures and professional practices (Bell, 1991, p. 38). Accordingly, it is impossible to conceive any story alone, unique, a first-hand product from its source journalist, if we have not witnessed the journalist at work. A Newspaper by line does not guarantee the authorship (Bell, 1991, p.42). Newspaper Discourse lacks direct feedback, confusion, fragmentation, interaction, presence of audience, all of them characteristics of mass communication.

Stereotyping as regards how objective can communication via mass media be, it should be noted that readers and speakers have a stereotyped image in mind. It means reader has to identify newspaper as an institution i.e. the journalist is seen by them as merely an ‘institutional voice’ (Lindegren-Lerman, 1983, cited in Van Dijk, 1988a, p.75). Similarly stereotyped readers exist both in the minds of the communicators as well as in the text, i.e. they are partly constructed or construed through the text. It does not actually address the individual readers but the reader is addressed as a social group.

Embedding: News is always an embedded talk. Inside the News text produced by the author, other speech events or actions are rooted. Each has its own sender, receiver, and setting of time and place (Bell, 1991). News style is also controlled by some other general factors after (Van Dijk, 1988a, p.74):

  • News is a written type of discourse which qualifies the general limits imposed by written or printed texts.
  • It is confined by the possible topics of news discourse i.e. politics, either at a national or at an international level, military conflicts, social concerns, violence, disasters, sports, artistic creations, science and issues of human interest in general.
  • It is usually restricted to a formal communication style. It is every day, common, spoken language is deemed inappropriate, and only admitted within quotations ‘at least in the broadsheets.’
  • It is affected by time and space constraints. Its deadlines require fast writing and editing. Syntax and lexicalization must be of routine/ daily life to some degree. The fixed patterns of sentences are taught by journalism textbooks. Its room requires a condensed writing style to avoid repetitions. Sentences are crowded with much information in relative clauses; and nominalizations ‘which capture whole propositions’ are also significant.
  • It is influenced by the specifics of printing and layouts. Last but not the least, mass media outputs appear periodically and are accessible to a large audience (Jucker, 1995).


Language, Society And Culture

Factors Involved in the investigation of Social Dialect

Social Class And Education:
Leaving Educational system at early age
e.g. ( Them boys throwed somethin)
Spending long time in educational system
e.g. (Talks like a book)

Labov’s Theory:
Study of Labov (1972), looking sales people pronunciation differences in New York city at Saks, Macy’s and Klein’s departmental stores.
Use of more  /r/ Sound by higher and socio-economic status. (higher)
Fewer /r/ sounds produced by lower socio-economic status. (lowah)

Dialect Survey in a particular region shows that grandparents may use those terms which grand children do not.
e.g icebox, wireless (doesn’t use like to introduce reported speech)
e.g we’re getting ready, and he’s like

Female speaker tend to use Prestigious form than male
e.g I done it—I did
e.g Women discuss personal feelings, experience, seeking connections while Male Non-personal topics and give advice on solutions, more competitive and concerned with power via language

Ethnic background:
An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology

Within any society differences in speech may come about because of Ethnic background
e.g African Americans known as BEV, Use frequent absence of copula, Double negative constructions, illogical structure
(He don’t know nothing, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts)

In linguistics, an idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of vocabulary or idiom selection (the individual’s lexicon), grammar, or pronunciations that are unique to the individual.
The term idiolect is used for the personal dialect of each individual speaker of a language.

Use in specific situations
Religious Register (Ye Shall be blessed by him)
Legal Register (The Plaintiff is ready to take the witness stand)

Technical Vocabulary associated with the special activity or group
“Don’t bother me know I’m juggling eggs”
A major skill like pronunciation and grammar, to different varieties of language co-exist in a speech community (Arabic Language)

Language and Culture:
Linguistic variations are some times discussed as terms of cultural differences
Culture variation means “socially acquired knowledge” or cultural transmission by which languages are acquired

Worlds culture study become clear that different groups not only have different languages, they have different world’s views reflected in their languages
In very simple term, the Aztecs not only didn’t have a figure in their culture like “ Santa Claus”, they did not have a word for this figure either

Linguistic Determinism:
If two languages appear to have very different ways of describing the way of world is called linguistic determinism
Language determines thoughts (You can only think in the categories which your language allows you to think in)
Eskimos in English

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis:
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf produced arguments in 1930s that language of American Indians is different from other Europeans languages
Hopi Indians Tribes perceived differently from other English speaking tribes, distinction b/w animate and inanimate (Cloud, Stone)
Confusion b/w (animate, feminine, living, female—door, stone)

Language Universals:
All languages of the world have certain common properties, those common properties called linguistics universals and can be described with definitive feature of languages
Arbitrary symbol systems, noun like and verb components, set of sound patterns, Grammar, prepositions

Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society.

Sociology of Language:
Sociology of language focuses on the language’s effect on the society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of the society on the language.
A sociology of language would seek to understand the way that social dynamics are affected by individual and group language use

Social Dialects:
Social Dialects are varieties of language used by groups defined according to class, education, age, sex, and a number of other social parameters.

Concept of Prestige:
In sociolinguistics, prestige describes the level of respect accorded to a language or dialect as compared to that of other languages or dialects in a speech community. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics is closely related to that of prestige or class within a society. Generally, there is positive prestige associated with the language or dialect of the upper classes, and negative prestige with the language or dialect of the lower classes.

Language, Society and Culture
By: Muhammad Afzal & Zammad Aslam

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