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JOURNALISTIC ARTICLES




Irrespective of the character of the magazine and the divergence of subject matterwhether it is political, literary, popular-scientific or satirical, all the already mentioned features of publicistic style are to be found in any article. The character of the magazine as well as the subject chosen affects the choice and use of stylistic devices. Words of emotive meaning, for example, are few, if any, in popular scientific articles. Their exposition is more consistent and the system of connectives more expanded than,-say, in a satirical article.

The language of political magazine articles differs little from that of newspaper articles as described in the chapter on Newspaper Style (see below). But such elements of publicistic style as rare and bookish words, neologisms (which sometimes require explanation in the text), traditional word-combinations and parenthesis are more frequent here than in newspaper articles.

In an article dealing with what were forthcoming presidential elections e in the USA, which it is impossible to quote here because of its length, " we find such bookish and highflown words as-ambivalent, exhilarated, appalled, etc. Its argumentation and emotional appeal is achieved by emphatic constructions of different kinds: 'how dim the outlook for victory was', 'Stevenson is anything but an irresponsible man', 'it could well have been, though'..., 'he is at once exhilarated and appalled'* Humorous effect is produced by the use of words and phrases which normally are out of the range of this sort of article: melancholy, graciously, extending his best wishes, and by periphrases.

Literary reviews stand closer to essays both by their content and by their linguistic form. More abstract words of logical meaning are used in them, they often resort to emotional language and less frequently to traditional set expressions.

C. NEWSPAPER STYLE

N e w s paper style was the last of all the styles of written literary English to be recognized as a specific form of writing standing apart from other forms.

English newspaper writing dates from the 17th century. At the close of the 16th century short news pamphlets began to appear. Any such publication either presented news from only one source or dealt with one specific subject. Note the titles of some of the earliest news pamphlets: "Newe newes, containing a short rehearsal of Stukely's and Morice's Rebellion" (1579), "Newes from Spain and Holland" (1593), "Wonderful

and strange newes out of Suffolke and Essex, where it rayned wheat ,the space of six or seven miles" (1583). News pamphlets appeared only from time to time and cannot be classed as newspapers, though they were unquestionably the immediate forerunners of the British press.

The first of any regular series of English newspapers was the Weekly News which first appeared on May 23, 1622. It lasted for some twenty years till in 1641 it ceased publication. The 17th century saw the rise of a number of other news sheets which, with varying success, struggled on in the teeth of discouragement and restrictions imposed by the Crown. With the introduction of a strict licensing system many such sheets were suppressed, and the Government, in its turn, set before the public a paper of its ownThe London Gazette, first published on February 5, 1666. The paper was a semi-weekly and carried official information, royal decrees, news from abroad, and advertisements.

The first English daily newspaperthe Daily Courant was brought out on March 11, 1702. The paper carried news, largely foreign, and no comment, the latter being against the principles of the publisher, as was stated in the first issue of his paper. Thus the early English newspaper was principally a vehicle of information. Commentary as a regular feature found its way into the newspapers later. But as far back as the middle of the 18th century the British newspaper was very much like what it is today, carrying on its pages news, both foreign and domestic, advertisements, announcements and articles containing comments.

The rise of the American newspaper, which was brought onto American soil by British settlers, dates back to the late 17th, early 18th centuries.

It took the English newspaper more than a century to establish a style and a standard of its own. And it is only by the 19th century that newspaper English may be said to have developed into a system of language media, forming a separate functional style.

The specific conditions of..newspaper publication, the restrictions of time and space,^have left .indelible mark on newspaper English. For more than a century writers arid linguists have been vigorously, attacking "the slipshod construction and the vulgar vocabulary" of newspaper English. The very term newspaper English carried a shade of disparagement. Yet, for all the defects of newspaper English, serious though they may be, this forrq of the English literary language cannot be reduced as some .purists have claimed merely to careless slovenly writing or to a distorted literary English. This is one of the forms of the English literary language characterized as any other style by a definite communicative ainrand its own system of language means. .

Not all the printed matter found in newspapers comes under newspaper style. The modern newspaper carries material of an extremely diverse character. On the pages of a newspaper one finds not only news and comment on it, press reports and articles, advertisements and announcements, but also stories and poems, crossword puzzles, chess problems and the like. Since the latter serve the purpose of entertaining the reader, they cannot be considered specimens of newspaper style. It is newspaper

printed matter that performs the function of informing the reader and providing him with an evaluation of the information published that can be regarded as belonging to newspaper style.

Thus, English newspaper style may be defined as a system of interrelated lexical, phraseological and grammatical means which is perceived by the community as a separate linguistic unity that serves the purpose of informing and instructing the reader.

Information and evaluation co-exist in the modern English newspaper, and it is only in teftns of diachrony that the function of information can claim priority. In fact, all kinds of newspaper writing are to a greater or lesser degree both informative and evaluative. But, of course, it is obvious that in most of the basic newspaper "genres" one of the two functions prevails; thus, for example, news of all kinds is essentially informative, whereas the editorial is basically evaluative.

Informatio.i in the English newspaper is conveyed, in the first place, through the-medium of:

1) brief'news items,

2) press reports (parliamentary, of court proceedings, etc.),

3) articles purely informational in character,

4) advertisements and announcements.

The newspaper also seeks to influence public opinion on political and other "matters. Elements of appraisal may be observed in the very selection and way of presentation of news, in the use of specific vocabulary, such as allege and claim, casting some doubt on the facts reported, and syntactic constructions indicating a lack of assurance on the part of the reporter as to the correctness of the facts reported or his desire to avoid responsibility (for example, 'Mr. X was said to have opposed the proposal'; 'Mr. X was quoted as saying...'}. The headlines of news items, apart from giving information about the subject-matter, also carry a considerable amount of appraisal (the size and arrangement of the headline, the use of emotionally coloured words and elements of emotive syntax), thus indicating the interpretation of the facts in the news item that follows. But, of course, the principal vehicle of interpretation and appraisal is the newspaper article, and the editorial in particular. Editorials (leading articles or leaders) are characterized by a subjective handling of facts, political or otherwise. They have much in common with classical specimens of publicistic writing and are often looked upon as such. However, newspaper evaluative writing unmistakably bears the stamp of newspaper style. Thus, it se^ms natural to regard newspaper articles, editorials included, as coming within the system qf English newspaper style. But it should be noted that while editorials and other arti- . cles in opinion columns are predominantly evaluative, newspaper feature articles, as a rule, carry a considerable amount of information, and the ratio of the informative and the evaluative varies substantially from article to article.

To understand the language peculiarities of English newspaper style it will be sufficient to analyse the following basic newspaper features:

1) brief news items,

2) advertisements and announcements,

3) the headline,

4) the editorial.

BRIEF NEWS ITEMS

The principal function of a b r i e f news i te is to inform the reader. It states facts without giving explicit comments, and whatever evaluation there is in news paragraphs is for the most part implicit and as a rule unemotional. News items are essentially matter-of-fact, and stereotyped forms of expression prevail. As an invariant, the language of brief news items is stylistically neutral, which seems to be in keeping with the allegedly neutral and unbiased nature of newspaper reporting; in practice, however, departures from this principle of stylistic neutrality (especially in the so-called "mass papers") are quite common.

It goes without saying that the bulk of the vocabulary used in newspaper writing is neutral and common literary. But apart from this, newspaper style has its specific vocabulary features and is characterized by an extensive use of:

a) Special political and economic terms, e. g. Socialism, constitution, president, apartheid, by-election, General Assembly, gross output, per capita production.

b) Non-term political vocabulary, e. g. public, people, progressive, nation-wide, unity, peace, A characteristic feature of political vocabulary is that the border line between terms and non-terms is less distinct than in the vocabulary of other special fields. The semantic structure of some words comprises both terms and non-terms, e. g. nation, crisis, agreement, member, representative, leader.

c) Newspaper cliches, i. e. stereotyped expressions, commonplace phrases familiar to the readert e. g. vital issue, pressing problem, informed sources, danger of war, to escalate a war, war hysteria, overwhelming majority, amid stormy appiause. Cliches more than anything else reflect the traditional manner of expression in newspaper writing. They are commonly looked upon as a defect of style. Indeed, some cliches, especially those based on trite images (e.g. captains of industry, pillars of society, bulwark of civilization) are pompous and hackneyed, others, such as welfare state, affluent society^^are false and misleading. But nevertheless, cliches are indispensable in newspaper style: they prompt the necessary associations and prevent ambiguity and misunderstanding.

d) Abbreviations. News items, press^ reports and headlines abound in abbreviations of various kinds. Among them abbreviated terms names of organizations, public and state bodies, political associations, industrial and other companies, various offices, etc.known by their initials are very common, e.g. UNO (t/nited Nations Organization), TUG (Trades Union Congress), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), AFL-CIO ( Federation of Labour-Congress of /ndustrial Organizations), EEC (.European Economic Community), TGWU (Transport and General Workers Union), FO (Foreign Office), PIB (Prices and /ncomes Board),

e) Neologisms. These are very common in newspaper vocabulary. The newspaper is very quick to react to any new development in the life of society, in science and technology. Hence, neologisms make their way into the language of the newspaper very easily and often even spring up on newspaper pages, e.g. lunik, a splash-down (the act of bringing a spacecraft to a water surface), a teach-in (a form of campaigning through heated political discussion), backlash or white backlash (a violent reaction of American racists to the Negroes' struggle for civil rights), frontlash (a vigorous antiracist movement), stop-go policies (contradictory, indecisive and inefficient policies).

The above-listed peculiarities of brief news items are the basic vocabulary parameters of English newspaper style.

The vocabulary of brief news items is for the most part devoid of emotional colouring. Some papers, however, especially those classed among "mass" or "popular" papers, tend to introduce emotionally coloured lexical units into essentially matter-of-fact news stories, e.g.

"Health Minister Kenneth Robinson made this shock announcement yesterday in the Commons." (Daily Mirror)

"Technicians at the space base here are now working flat out to prepare GeAiini 6 for next Monday's blast-off." (Daily Mail)

"Defence Secretary Roy Mason yesterday gave a rather frosty reception in the Commons to the latest proposal for a common defence policy for all EEC countries." (Morning Star)

Important as vocabulary is, it is not so much the words and phrases used in brief news items that distinguish them from other forms of newspaper writing. The vocabulary groups listed above are also commonly found in headlines and newspaper articles. The basic peculiarities of news items lie in their syntactical structure.

As the reporter is obliged to be brief, he naturally tries to cram all his facts into the space allotted. This tendency predetermines the peculiar composition of brief news items and the syntactical structure ^,of the sentences. The size of brief news items varies from one sentence to several (short) paragraphs. And generally, the shorter the news item, |\ the more complex its syntactical structure.

The following grammatical peculiarities of brief news items are of paramount importance, and may be regarded as their grammatical parameters.

a) Complex sentences with a developed system of clauses, e. g.

"Mr. Boyd-Carpenter, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster-General (Kingston-upon-Thames), said he had been asked what was meant by the statement in the Speech that the position of war pensioners and those receiving national insurance benefits would be kept under close review." (The Times)

"There are indications that BO AC may withdraw - threats of all-out dismissals for pilots who restrict flying hours, a spokesman for the British Airline Pilots' association said yesterday," (Morning Star)

b) Verbal constructions (infinitive, participial, gerundial) and verbal noun constructions, e.g.

"Mr. Nobusuke Kishi, the former Prime Minister of Japan, has sought to set an example to the faction-ridden Governing Liberal Democratic Party by announcing the disbanding of his own faction numbering 47 of the total of 295 conservative members of the Lower House of the Diet." (The Times)

c) Syntactical complexes, especially the nominative with the infinitive. These constructions are largely used to avoid mentioning the source of information or to shun responsibility for the facts reported, e. g.

"The condition of Lord Samuel, aged 92, was said last night to be a 'little better.'" (The Guardian)

"A petrol bomb is believed to have been exploded against the grave of Cecil Rhodes in the Matopos." (The Times)

d) Attributive noun groups are another powerful means of effecting brevity in news items, e.g. 'heart swap patient' (Morning Star), 'the national income and expenditure figures' (The Times), 'Labour backbench decision' (Morning Star), 'Mr. Wilson's HMS fearless package deal' (Morning Star).

e) Specific word-order. Newspaper tradition, coupled with the rigid rules of sentence structure in English, has greatly affected the word-order of brief news items. The word-order in one-sentence news paragraphs and in what are called "leads" (the initial sentences in longer news items) is more or less fixed. Journalistic practice has developed what is called the "five-w-and-h-pattern rule" (who-what-why-how-where-when)and for a long time strictly adhered to it. In terms of grammar this fixed sentence structure may be expressed in the following manner: SubjectPredicate (+Object)Adverbial modifier of reason (manner) Adverbial modifier..of place-4Adverbial modifier of time, e.g.

"A neighbour's peep through a letter box led to the finding of a woman dead from gas and two others semiconscious in a block of council flats in Eccles New Road, Salford, Lanes., yesterday." (The Guardian)

It has been repeatedly claimed by the authors of manuals of journalistic writing that the "five-w-arid4i" structure was the only right pattern of sentence structure to use in news reports. Facts, however, disprove this contention. Statistics show that there are approximately as many cases in which the traditional word-order is violated as those in which it is observed. It is now obvious that the newspaper has developed new sentence patterns not typical of other styles. This observation refers, firstly, to the position of the adverbial-modifier of definite time. Compare another pattern typical of brief news sentence structure:

"Derec Heath, 43, yesterday left Falmouth for the third time in his attempt to cross the Atlantic in a 12ft dinghy." (Morning Star)

"Brighton council yesterday approved 22,500 scheme to have parking meters operating in the centre of the town by March." (The Times)

This and some other unconventional sentence patterns have become a common practice with brief news writers.

There are some other, though less marked, tendencies in news item writing of modifying well-established grammatical norms. Mention should be made of occasional disregard for the sequence of tenses rule, e.g.

"The committee which was investigating the working of the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act said that some school children in remand centres are getting only two hours lessons a day." (Morning Star)

What is ordinarily looked upon as a violation of grammar rules in any other kind of writing appears to b a functional peculiarity of newspaper style.




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