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Lingua inglese II 17-10-11. The language of journalism . The term ‘journalistic’ may refer to several kinds of texts: advertising, horoscopes, weather reports, crosswords, business reports, cartoons, film/book reviews, obituaries, letters to the editor and agony aunt agony uncle columns(?).

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lingua inglese ii 17 10 11
Lingua inglese II17-10-11

The language of journalism


The term ‘journalistic’ may refer to several kinds of texts: advertising, horoscopes, weather reports, crosswords, business reports, cartoons, film/book reviews, obituaries, letters to the editor and agony aunt agony uncle columns(?).

(A newspaper column who answers questions and offers advice on personal problems).

But, the most representative genre is the news report (article)

main functions of newspaper reports





Popular vs. Quality Press?

Watch the following and tell the evident differences

Do you think they are quality or popular press newspapers?


Broadsheet newpapers (quality press) are large-sized and include economic, sports, political news items…

while tabloids (popular press) are small-sized and they usually spread sensational stories and gossip on the showbiz or scandals of different nature.


Tabloids are usually newspapers that tend to sensationalize and emphasize or exaggerate crime stories, gossip columns, scandals about the deeply personal lives of celebrities, sports stars, politicians etc.

As the term "tabloid" has become synonymous with down-market newspapers in some areas, some small-format papers which claim a higher standard of journalism refer to themselves as "compact" newspapers instead.

The tabloid newspaper format is particularly popular in the United Kingdom.

Larger newspapers, traditionally associated with 'higher-quality' journalism, are called broadsheets

The difference in letter size is evident.





central features of newspaper articles layout

The different fonts, colours and letter size distinguish:

  • Major headlines from minor headlines (leads);
  • Leads from other sub-headings;
  • All other headlines from the main text.

All these features make newspaper layout recognisable among most other written text forms.

inverted pyramid
Inverted pyramid

The most important items of information are presented first (in the various headlines and in the opening sentences).

This has the advantage of concentrating information into easily-accessible chunks, but it can also overload a headline with copious data which can mislead the reader.

creation of interpersonal communication between the writer and the reader
Creation of interpersonal communication between the writer and the reader…

…byexploitingmanyof the charactersticsof the spokenlanguage:

  • the speaker ispostponed:

‘OurdaughterShilohwantstobe a boy’, reveals Angelina Jolie.

2) quotationof single key words (i.e. IRA dismisses truce as ‘unworkable’)

3) useofquestions or exclamationsto create a senseofsharingsomething, oftenrhetoricalquestions:

Whenwill interest rates rise?

Whenwillviolence end?


Lexical words are preferred, grammatical words are often omitted (ellipsis).

British soldier killed in Afghan blast

headline techniques
Headline techniques
  • Alliteration

Police getproactive in protectingPINs.

  • Assonance/rhyme

Death threats

Waity Katie towedher William


  • Irony, sarcasm;

DNA test over love child, FBI on histrail, ANOTHER blonde on hisarm. GoodlucktryingtowinElin back, Tiger!



Iraqi Head SeeksArms

(can yousee the ambiguity in such a headline??)

Ashley Cole scoresthreetimes in a week.

  • Exclamation

Wetoldyou first!

  • Slang/informal style/colloquialisms

Kate and Willstomarry

Wannatry out?

Hill and Bill’s love FE$T.

Quittingboozekilledour Amy.




Britainexpects (doublemeaningof the verb)


…and INTERTEXTUALITY (whatisthat??)

Dave New World

Careless driver! George Michael smashescarintoshop

Silvio isworsethanCaligula

then we can also see headlines using more than one device
Then we can also see headlines using more than one device

Rob: Balo’s gone from strops to tops

(Roberto Mancini happy that Mario Balotelli is staying out of trouble.

ROBERTO MANCINI has hailed Mario Balotelli — for going six weeks without a strop!

BolshyBalotelli has been keeping his nose clean and today hit his fourth goal in as many games against Aston Villa.

Mancini admits that the Italian hot-head could "change in a moment". )

what is intertextuality
What is intertextuality?

Prince takes arms against bad English

‘Prince’ here refers to the prince of Wales.

However, it is easy to catch references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles


…you can find it anywhere

In literature, in movies, in images, in commercials, in journalism, in everyday speech, also in the words I used above.

Allusions, more or less overt, to other works/words.

This video clearly shows intertextuality. Setting, images, facial expressions etc. remind of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

types of headlines
Types of headlines

Straight headlinesThey simply relate the main topic of the story.

They are the most common types of headlines and are the easiest to understand.Example:Ferocious dogs savage man to death


Headlinesthatask a question

Mostheadlinesofthiskind are notreallytypicalquestions at all. They are statementsfollowedby a questionmark. Thesequestionmarks are usedwhen:

  • The headlinereports a future possibilityExample:Are Chinesehotels in shapeforgames?
  • Thereis some doubtabout the truth or accuracyof the story.Example:HiddenTreasures on Caribbeanseabed?

Headlines that contain a quotationA quoted speech is often used in headlines.

Example:Men shot in Arctic ‘had no enemies at all’

the language of headlines
The language of headlines
  • Headlines are often in the simple present tense.Example:Madonna separates from Guy.

(note the use of first names)

  • The simple present tense is used to describe something happening in the present or in the past.
  • The simple present tense is used to describe both something happening now and something that happens repeatedly.

The presentcontinuousissometimesused, togive the meaningofsomethingthatisdeveloping, going on at that moment. The auxiliaries ‘tobe’ and ‘tohave’ are usuallyomitted.

Example:Bikersflexingtheirmusclesfor the race.


The infinitive is used to refer to the future.Example:Liberals to spend $700-million on research and development projects.

  • Articles and conjunctions are often omitted.
  • In passive forms, the auxiliary is omitted and only the past participle is used.Example:Woman killed in crash.
  • Use of premodificationsExample:Electoral popularity key consideration.
  • Acronyms and abbreviations are often used .


Blair knew Saddam did not have WMD before war started

rules to keep in mind
Rules to keep in mind


(keep it short and simple);

  • Never Use Three Words When One Will Do;
  • Never be repetitive and redundant;
  • Play with language (puns);
  • Use adjectives or other elements to categorise people (secret lover…, retired teacher…, mother of three…, etc.)
always keep in mind the 5 wh who when what why where
Alwayskeep in mind the 5 wh: Whowhenwhatwhywhere

To conclude:

  • The headline: summarizes and draws attention to the story;
  • The lead: summarizes and begins to tell the story;
  • The participants are categorized, their name often being preceded by a general term and adjectives (charismatic English singer Damon Albarn)
  • Explicit time and place locations (in Paris yesterday);
  • Facts and figures;
  • Direct or indirect quotations
text analysis
Text analysis
  • Does the article answer the five ‘W’ questions?
  • Does the article include all the information you want to know about the topic? If not, what’s missing?
  • Is there a photo accompanying the article?
  • If so, what information does it provide? Does it help the reader understand the main point of the article?
  • Does the information in this article differ in any way from what you have heard on the radio, seen on TV, or read in another newspaper about the same event?
  • Does the article deal with a controversial issue? If so, are the opposing points of view given equal space and objective presentation? Can you tell which side the journalist favors?
  • Do you consider this article a good example of clear, objective news reporting?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this article?
  • If an editor had asked you to write this news story, what would you have done differently?
  • What are the language features of this article? LANGUAGE ANALYSIS

Here is a simple news story which would not appear on a newspaper. The language does not work.

Read it carefully.


  • Try to rebuild the text for newspaper purposes;
  • Create at least two possible headlines considering the techniques previously seen.



In the middle of the night last night, some burglars broke into Buckingham Palace and got away with a whole heap of the Queen’s most valuable jewellery as well as kidnapping her favouritedog whose name was Tootles and who slept in the Queen’s bedroom with her.

The Queen wasn’t actually around that night as she was away on her tour of Japan with Prince Philip, but her ladies-in-waiting were, and they were terrified and extremely worried about Tootles who is quite old and needs a special diet so he does not get too overweight.

http www thebigproject co uk news

This site contains all the newspapers available in UK.

For October 31st choose two articles (one belonging to popular press and the other to quality press) on the same topic and highlight all the language (but also other) differences you see and carry out a text analysis considering all the elements dealt with in this lecture. (PPT)

You can work in groups of 5-6 (maximum)

PPTs should last max. 15/20 minutes.

4 of your works will be presented during the class.


To write a good/effective text analysis does not mean you have to mention ALL THE THINGS I INCLUDED HERE.

You have to mention only the things that are apparent, evident, important, relevant, outstanding in the piece of text under investigation.

And…besides referring to the language of journalism only, you should also take into account all the previously mentioned concepts (cohesion, coherence, informativity etc.)