Key Terms for Discourse Analysis and the Journalistic Language

Dealing with textual heterogeneity, means that I want to prove the importance of textual, descriptive, declarative or polyphonic elements in discourse analysis.
It was chosen this topic as I wanted to deal with patterns which refer to journalistic communication and also which emphasize the textual complexity and the declarative typology of all linguistic operation.

The interest of such a study is that to stress the fact that a declaration can envisage from a textual point of view, narrative, argumentative, descriptive, explicative sequences, and in spite of all this diversity the text is like a unity, even more it gives a unite meaning to the speech; also, from a declarative point of view, the text overlaps different “voices”; the latter appears in the construction of the former, even if, for the reader’s objective eye this feature is not quite obvious.

Declarative like for its chronological events winding and also for the narrative tenses uses, educational news, a common discursive genre, posses essential and specific functions which emphasize heterogeneity next to a situational rooted in depth.

Linguistics studies the organization of different aspects of the language; the latter has a substance, in our case the form, the organization. For doing that, one needs to account for the form, the substance and the relationship between the form and the situation.

Educational news is not studied only as a coherent verbal chain or as an element which makes part of a strategy for writing newspaper headlines, but it is seen as a declarative activity resumed to a discourse speech, for example, the written means through which it passes. The journalistic language presents items which attract the reader, gain his attention, and then leave him meditate, and the most fortunately, help the reader form his own opinions regarding the society realities.

The Education, in its complexity, presents situations related to students, teachers, some other employees who work close to a college or a University, they refer to their achievements or their problems (strikes for better salaries, for transport, for scholarships, for better teaching/ learning conditions);

Thus, the target readers are those interested in these topics, but we don’t have to forget the readers looking for sensational or shocking educational news. The act of influencing opinions, values or beliefs can be both political (lobbyists, interest groups) and commercial (advertising, public relations). It is at this point that the receiver (the reader) decides how and which information to process. It is not a secret that mass media uses distortion in order to adapt the language to their purposes. Therefore, the journalists describe the reality in a sort of distorted melodramatic way in order to give to the news a literal tonality close to extraordinary.

This attractive news, made public day after day, week after week, newspaper after newspaper builds a system of repetition whose abundance creates the sensational. This system is composed of a double repetition: thematic and mimetic, and it amplifies the information. Sustaining this idea I want to bring into discussion the heavy snow fall in England which began on the 2nd of February and still maintains school closed.

It is a serious matter, that interests a lot of people, but that has already crossed the limit of an ordinary topic, as one can see from the comments and the articles found printed in order to sustain my idea.

The educational news can be recognized as the title has always a word which refer to education, its style is simple and clear: the phrases are short, without complicated forms and they follow the usual construction S-V-DO/IO with very few adjectives. There are a lot of quotes, plenty of rhetorical questions and just a few objective opinions from the writer of the article. Moreover, the use of tenses shows that present tenses are very used, but we don’t have to ignore the simple or perfective future, and a lot of passive constructions.

The most important thing that I want to add to this first presentation is that the educational news respects the following “five commandments”:

• “Who or What- it gives identity to the person or to the thing to know about;
• When- it gives temporal details about the action or the thing
• Where- it locates, as precisely as possible the place of the event;
• How- it presents the circumstances of the event(s)
• Why – it gives the elements that make the reader understand better the event

In the end, we can add the conclusions and the consequences of the topic brought into discussion. Let’s take the example: “Teachers who get drunk on a Saturday night could be barred from the classroom under a code of conduct that the profession’s disciplinary body, the General Teaching Council, is drafting…” (Art. from the 19th December ‘08)

Who are the teachers ?  

If we look to the nominal center (teachers), we can see that we can operate a selection of some other possible replacements for that eg A group of…, Some people.., Mentors…, Home-borns.. etc, and all the relations on the paradigmatic axis operates to all the levels, and the phenomenon continues to the semantic level too , orienting the clause to a certain meaning.. If instead of “teachers” we will use “some people”/ ”home-borns”, “classroom” or “profession disciplinary body” will gain new significance according to the concrete circumstances of the event, but also according to how “the code of conduct” will be applied to this new category of people.

And in this example we can see that the linguists have said about discourse analysis can be so nicely studied on the text. It is, at this point, all about the capacity of signs to contain an evaluative aspect together with the concept. This evaluative aspect refers to the fact that the sign has not a fixed internal significance, but rather a potential significance which can be directed or stressed to a new significance.

Another major conclusion we could get to was that was that the significance will never be found in the sign or in the text, but in the dialogue between the text and the reader. All the significant elements which can be studied in a text are mentally translated into another active context which is able to produce an answer. Understanding a text, is the equivalent of a dialogue for a next level.

The news discourse, has, as many other discourse types, a conventional structure which is able to direct both discourse production, but mainly the press consumer’s reception. Directing the news and receiving the discourse are subordinated to some other important aspect: explanation, prevision, interpretation and evaluation.

All the units, dimensions and level from the written news will be considered textual features, and it is also clear that mass media text cannot be simply considered as linguistic object, but a concrete achievement of the communicative act in a social-cultural situation.

The context will definitely influence the structure of the news, and more important the reader needs to assess the information and realize if the news wanted to inform, to amuse, to stimulate, or it simply wanted to indoctrinate or to control the potential reader.


1. BAKHTIN Mikhail, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (trans. C Emerson & M Holquist). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1981
2. FRENTIU, Luminita, Instances of Discourse Analysis, ed Mirton, 2004.
3. HALLIDAY, M.A.K.  Patterns of Language, Papers in General, Descriptive and Applied Linguistics, The description of a Language, Longman Linguistic Library, 1996.
4. HARTLY, John, Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, The key Concepts, 3rd edition, Routledge, 2002
5. VOLOSINOV, Valentin , Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, Seminar Press, 1973


prof. Adina-Ilioara Cherecheș

Liceul Teoretic William Shakespeare, Timișoara (Timiş) , România
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