Local grammar and register variation: explorations in broadsheet and tabloid newspaper discourse

University of Birmingham
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Journal Article
Empirical Language Research, 2007, 1 (1), pp. 1 - 22
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While there is much linguistic research on news discourse, most studies (outside CDA) have focussed on the so-called `quality newspapers. In contrast, this study systematically compares the language of ten British `popular and `quality newspapers, on the basis of a 70,000 word comparable corpus. The comparison focuses specifically on what is variously called evaluation, appraisal or stance - the linguistic expression of speaker opinion, applying Hunston and Sinclairs (2000) corpus-based pattern approach to the analysis of evaluation. As these authors show, certain lexico-grammatical patterns are commonly associated with evaluation, and together make up what they call a `local grammar of evaluation. An example of such a pattern is: it + link verb + adjective group + clause (e.g. It seemed important to trust her judgement). Evaluative adjective patterns of this kind are examined in the corpus, in order to find out if there are any differences between the two types of newspapers. It is suggested that the differences between broadsheet and tabloid publications lie less in the frequency of evaluative patterns than in the function of these patterns as well as in the types of adjectives used in them.
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