Language-In-Use Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2785 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] " The article has an official air, as the information is supported by verified facts: the weddings were cancelled, according to a statement belonging to Clijsters, published on her official website. Furthermore, the story is not intended to create more public pressure on the two sportspersons, who intend to keep "distance ... from the malicious gossip which inevitably surfaces in this kind of situation."

The way the article is constructed and the information transmitted to the reader shows that the intention of the reporter was to simply present the facts, with a slight emphasis on the sad part of the story, without getting involved in gossip and trying to uphold the right to privacy of the two tennis players, while also completely and accurately informing the public. The article makes a short summary of the evolution of Hewitt's and Clijsters's romance, starting with their initial meeting at the 200 Australian Open, their engagement in December last year and their plans for wedding.

The second article was published in the Herald Sun on the 23rd of October, 2004. It stretches on two pages: the first one is dominated by a large photo of the two tennis players, subtitled "Shattered." Unlike the first article, this one concentrates on the emotional dramas in which Hewitt and Clijsters are involved. The respect for their privacy does not seem to be on the agenda of the reporter, who is more preoccupied with bringing to light the soap-opera type events to which the two sportspersons are taking part (the photo also points in that direction).

One issued worth mentioning is that the article (including the large picture) is placed on page one of the newspaper; all the elements of a tabloid story are present. The article is continued on page eight. The attention of the reader is captured by the flashy image and titles on the first page and then directed to the end of the newspaper, which indicates that the editors were more interested in getting the public's attention, rather than presenting a clear and accurate version of the story to the readers.

The subtitle also spells drama: "Lleyton heartbroken over Kim." One has to consider that tennis-man Lleyton Hewitt is a national hero in Australia, so people will definitely be interested in finding out what is going on with the personal life of their idol. Another tendentious title is the one on page eight: "Love match is at an end." The paragraphs concentrate on little details that make the pleasure of a certain category of readers: how and when the two met, who made Kim's wedding dress, who was invited to which party etc.

The announcement of break-up, published on the web-site is presented in a few lines. Then there is a comment of "former Davis Cup player and respected commentator John Alexander" who says that the couple is experiencing stressing moments and hopes that all is "just a hiccup." He also speaks about the fact that Australians have learned to love Kim and that the two seemed very in love, which contributes to the sensation that the article does not intend to simply present the reality. However, this mushy approach is ruined by the end of the article, which is very unfortunate in my opinion. The intention of the author was probably to present in detail the intimate life of the couple. Instead, all that it managed was to put together a series of excerpts from various sources, which make up an image more suitable for a respectable newspaper than for a tabloid.

A conclusion regarding this second article may be formulated as follows: although the author intended to focus public attention on the personal drama of the two tennis players, who are said to be appreciated by the Australian public and who had a strong relationship, the article manages to convey little else than the information presented in "The Sydney Morning Herald," which is a highly respected newspaper. Except for the photographs, which don't make the object of this analysis, the text was in itself fade and lacked that pinch of salt characteristic to tabloids.

The third article appeared in The Courier Mail on the same date -- 23rd of October 2004, under the title "Lleyton loses No.1," and is signed by Bronwyn Murell, who does not state his position in the newspaper. Although, at first glance, the article may seem strictly informative, it is the most tendentious of the three and attack Kim Clijsters without remorse.

The first paragraph is an excellent proof thereof: "Lleyton Hewitt has been left with a broken heart after fiancee Kim Clijsters called off tennis's glamour love match over the phone." The idea behind the text should sound as follows: "Renowned tennis player and Australian national hero Lleyton Hewitt has suffered terribly after the love of his life has left him without any scruples, by simply informing him about this fact over the phone."

The article writer, unlike the ones of the other two texts, does not seem to be interested in presenting a fair version of the story and attacks Clijsters in a deliberate although insidious way. Any reader of goof faith would rush to the second paragraph to determine whether the first impression left by the text is accurate or not. Here is a sample of the method the writer chose to adopt in order to present the reality: "Clijsters called Hewitt on Thursday night to end their relationship, without giving a reason, but posted a brief statement on her website."

It is interesting noticing that the author does not indicate its sources. How could Mr. Murrell know what Clijsters and Hewitt talked about over the phone or Lleyton's state of mind remains a mystery. A very "professional" method is used to present Hewitt's reaction: "Hewitt .... is understood to be bewildered and devastated." It's almost comical that a professional journalist will still resort to such methods to avoid revealing dubious sources. The rest of the article is the same collection of fade statements and pieces of information used by writer of the second analyzed article.

This article is indeed surprising, as it is the most vicious and undocumented of the three, although it is the shortest, has the appearance of an honest text and is published in a respected newspaper. This reveals that it is not the form of the article that matters but its content. After all, readers not particularly interested in the subject might draw the conclusion that the only guilty person for the break-up is the heartless Kim Clijsters. Although there is no in terminis statement of that sort, it may easily be inferred from the context that this is what the author actually tried to convey to the public.

Comparing the articles and the conclusion which may be drawn from all of them makes the purpose of discourse analysis clearer. It is not important what a word or another means, but what the reader understands after reading that sentence, paragraph, or entire article. Articles may be purely tendentious, under the appearance of strictly informative pieces of text. That is why what is written or said has to be dissected, in order to capture the real intention of the speaker, hidden behind the wall of words.

Reference:

1 Zellig S. Harris, Discourse Analysis, Language, Vol. 28, No. 1 Jan.-Mar., 1952, 1-30

2. Goodin G., Perkins K, Discourse Analysis and the Art of the Coherence, Collefe English, Vol. 44, No. 1, January 1982, 57-63

3. Hutchby, I, Woofit, R. Conversation Analysis: Principles, practices and applications, Cambridge, 1998

4. Fairclough, N. 'Critical… [END OF PREVIEW]

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