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Snapshots of the British broadsheets from 1993 to 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Snapshots of the British broadsheets from 1993 to 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Snapshots of the British broadsheets from 1993 to 2010

2 Modern diachronic corpus-assisted discourse studies (MD-CADS) ways of tracking recent language change and changes in the reporting of social, political and cultural issues over recent time Comparative, like all CADS work, but diachronically Large enough corpus for significant generalisations Coherence and equivalence of corpus elements Quantitative anlaysis but also close reading

3 Time lapse studies LOB FLOB et al – sampling of different text categories Brigham Young University corpus Google books and Google N-grams Heterogeneous corpora which can be examined to track changes – like looking at people from identifying features that change

4 The SiBol project Siena-Bologna Modern Diachronic Corpora (the SiBol Corpora) three sister corpora of UK newspaper texts from different but contemporary periods in time designed and compiled to be as alike as possible to eliminate potentially undesirable variables. Like looking at snapshots of siblings over time

5 snapshots The sister corpora can be envisaged as snapshots of a particular language system taken in different periods of time and the comparison of the snapshots can reveal even small changes.

6 we can study meaning change, especially of sets of related lexical items, in relationship to both internal linguistic factors and also in response to external social influences lexical patterns and how they evolve over time changes in discourse processes and how these might relate to more general language change recent developments in social cultural and political attitudes as reflected in the newspaper data.

7 - the SiBol corpus –

8 The SiBol sibyls SiBol 93: containing the entire output of the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph for SiBol 05: containing the entire output of the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and the Observer, Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph for Port 2010 :contains the entire output of the Guardian, Times, Telegraph for They contain, respectively, circa 100 million words, 150 million and 140 million words. And in preparation …

9 software WordSmith Tools (version 5.0) suite of programs (Scott 2008). The corpus was converted into XML format and marked up according to TEI guidelines so we were able to use Xaira for some analyses It has been edited by Sketch engine and is now available through the Sketch Engine interface

10 software We use WordSmith 5 and Xaira For wordlists Keyword lists Collocations Clusters plots And concordancing and close reading

11 keywords Two wordlists compared and the most salient items arranged in order of ‘keyness’, a statistical measure The more statistically significant the item, the more key it is, the higher it is placed on the list.

12 Pattern perceiving These keyword lists were examined for items and, especially, sets of items which might be of interest Driven by the researcher’s linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the world and particular primings Different studies came out of the process

13 What we see Boiled down texts (Scott) when a corpus is reduced for the sake of statistical analysis to the form of a list of keywords, different patterns inevitably stand out to different researchers.

14 Ways of seeing each researcher brings his/her own primings in terms of theoretical, methodological and ideological background to the development of the research question. There is indeed ‘more to seeing than meets the eyeball’ (1958: 7), as Hanson put it in his seminal Patterns of Discovery and, even though we are all working with a similar methodological approach, each of the contributors to this collection saw something different when looking at the two SiBol corpora and the initial keyword lists. (Taylor 2010: 223)

15 focussing Different items will obviously attract attention if the focus of interest is on changes in grammar rather than on sociopolitical issues. When items attract attention they can be individually concordanced in the corpus in question. And concordance lines extended to be able to view the whole text for close reading.

16 Research topics so far Methodological considerations Grammatical change Informalisation in the press Evidence of evidentiality Investigation of prefix anti Investigation of lexicalised morality, moral panics Science in the news Antisemitism Search for similarity

17 Publications In 2010, a special edition of Corpora was dedicated to showcasing the methodology of MD-CADS and all the articles in the journal made use of SiBol 93 and SiBol 05.special edition of Corpora Further work has been done incorporating data from Port 2010

18 Well worn paths a wordlist will nearly always contain, firstly, a small number of highly used items, the most frequently used of these being grammatical items, followed by a long list of items which occur very infrequently the high frequency lexical items used over a wide variety of texts, such as in a corpus of one entire year of newspaper output, represent well-worn paths as opposed to new ones. over time, some previously little-frequented paths have become well-trodden, while the grass has grown over others.

19 Topic related keywords sport had become a major interest in the broadsheets since 1993 the single most noticeable feature of the 2005 keywords Of the first 100, as many as twenty-one refer to sport or sporting personalities (for instance, Premiership, Chelsea and Beckham), whereas in 1993, the top 100 keywords contains only three sporting items. Port 2010 reveals cooking and food have become recurrent topics (we find for instance, chop, chopped, cook, baking, butter, onions, soufflé, sauté, purée and crème).

20 Changing focus of the papers Change of policy Supplements and features Lifestyle and soft news over hard news as a feature of their relationship to how readers get their news A comment and review role rather than news provider

21 New concerns The 2005 list includes items relating to high finance or venture capitalism, including FTSE, bid, takeover, executive, and hedge (funds), as well financial institutions such as Deutsche and HSBC (both banks). In contrast, in 1993 we find a few items from the sphere of high finance but far more relating to the national economy in general: economic recession, recovery, inflation and economy; to national economic problems, such as unemployment; and to industrial matters: coal, chairman and industrial.

22 And shifts When we turn to Port 2010 we find that both financial and economic topics are prominent with the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008 which both continue and worsen and were still echoing in the papers banks, banking and bankers, bailout, recession, deficit, debt, inflation, quantitative easing, jobless, unemployment.

23 Language items Prepositions Linkers Modals Progressive aspect Address terms New entity naming terms names

24 New things Among the top keywords for 2005 vs 1993: www; Com; Online; Internet;website And for 2010 vs 2005: tweet(s) / tweeted, networking, smartphone(s), ipads and kindle

25 Prepositional use in 1993 we find as keywords against, under, between, upon, throughout, among, within, towards and amongst, whilst in 2005 and 2010 we come across with, across, alongside, below, onto and around. Some of the 1993 words may have fallen away because of their relatively formal air - notably throughout and amongst - but it is not easy to explain the distinct changes in popularity of most of the others.

26 Linkers in the 2005 / 2010 keyword lists include but, also, because, then, while and alongside, whilst those the 1993 list contains thus, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, in spite of, whilst and indeed. There would appear to be a distinct movement over time towards the use of less formality in cohesive expressions.

27 contractions Contracted forms in general abound in the 2005/2010 keywords including: it’s, he’s, there’s, she’s, along with a large variety of negative contractions such as can’t, don’t, didn’t, doesn’t, wasn’t, isn’t, won’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, aren’t, haven’t, hasn’t and weren’t.

28 Imitations of orality First and second person – imitation of spoken language Use of contractions and other features of informal register journalists also achieve impact and get on a ‘conversational’ wavelength with their readers by using common spoken discourse markers and purposefully vague language in a projected conversational exchange (Carter and MCarthy 2006:238)

29 informality 1993 keyword list contains a considerable number of formal terms of address all of which disappear from the 2005/2010 lists. These include Mr, Mrs, Lord, Dr, Sir, Lady, Rev, Herr, Signor and even President. The UK press has curtailed its use of formal courtesy forms.

30 evaluation In the keywords for 2005 compared with 1993 keyword lists revealed Informal evaluation Hyperbolic evaluation Vague evaluation

31 hyperbole Results for hyperbolic and emphatic items 2005 (-Observer) 1,174,643 = 0,804124% 1993 (with Sundays) 637,450 = 0,64426% Increase= + 0,159864%

32 Hyperbolic papers Times0.617% Guardian0.663% Telegraph0.673% Sunday Telegraph0.709% Sunday Times0.714% The Observer0.753% Average : 0.688%

33 Restrained Old SiBol Suall this can be contrasted with the limited number of evaluative adjectives from SiBol 93 keywords: considerable, substantial, modest, cautious, satisfactory, inadequate, limited. The only evaluations in the keywords of SiBol 93 which could be regarded as remotely hyperbolic are distinguished and necessary. When Port 2010 is compared with SiBol 93 the same words appear in the keywords suggesting that the hyperbolic style persists into 2010.

34 Vague language examples of language used when you do not want to be precise As Carter and McCarthy remind us ‘being vague is an important feature of interpersonal meaning and is especially common in everyday conversation”

35 Informal snapshots Young Sibol (2005) is more informal, more evaluative and more inclined to be vague, more concerned with size, fame, importance and image The keywords for 2010 reflect no difference in this direction The keywords for Old SiBol (1993)give a very different impression More news (apparently about politics and the economy, more foreign news topics) Less evaluation Less informality

36 Language change A few items which we followed up

37 Informal hyperbole: drop dead In Old Sibol many of the examples are about literally dropping dead. (from heart attacks etc.) 40 out of 105 occurrences have nothing to do with literal death but rather with the exaggerated effectiveness of someone’s appearance.

38 A unit of meaning In MEDAL it is to be found under the phrases with ‘drop’ (13 meanings given plus phrases, along with drop-down menu and drop-kick) as: drop-dead gorgeous adj. informal extremely attractive. Which suggests that in the Macmillan corpus it is restricted to that collocation, that it is a multi-word unit

39 Further exploitation In papers 2005 we find exploitation of the unit has been extended to contexts other than sheer physical human beauty it occurs with stunning, catchy, chic, classic, cool, dreamy, elegant, expensive, fabulous, funny glitz, gorgeous (35), prices, sexy; But then it extends further and becomes an adjective in its own right

40 adjectival with beauty, elegance, glamour (both Hollywood and Euro- Trash) looks, couture, sexiness, sophistication, But also with: stateroom, humour, wisecracks, one-liners. drop dead jeans, drop dead blondes, drop dead infanta Elena of Spain, put downs

41 Other examples Something rotten Big-time a textual preference for end of sentence position or end of clause position. All seem to mean a lot, intensely, and perhaps also very effectively,

42 Yes, yoga for young children is taking off big time. to come. Despite its proud slogan, "We're ripping you off big time", many And the trend is catching on big time among the young and the high life at gle. If we don't manage to lift our game then we'll get caught out big time. never held a job for more than a week, invariably falling out big time with the boss people, and those behind them, need to be caught and punished big time

43 I had lunch with Vanessa last week. She fancies me something rotten. to go home; and, anyway, those glass slippers pinch something rotten diary seem dowdy, they show up my slouchiness something rotten. opt for Lady or Baroness. It will screw up the statistics something rotten. nubile girls. Any man who watched it would be teased something rotten

44 Detail to be explored They provide evaluation and intensification They might be said to prime us with a particular semantic prosody good/bad: effective They are new enough for us to be able to observe the gradual growth and to be aware of our primings They are still register specific co-ocurring with other rigorously informal lexical items They might even be a sign of an increasing isolating tendancy of English

45 Hype They belong to the genres which imitate spoken informal language for particular purposes their increase in Sibol is a function of the increased space in promotional/review material which, like advertising, imitates the spoken language a sign that such an increase in promotional material (cf the Cardiff report) creates a need for new intensifiers to provide the necessary hype(erbole)

46 Keyword clichés keywords for 2010 :cliché, clichés and clichéd and a range of concordance lines deprecating clichés while in the act of reiterating them. reference to the old cliché, overused, lazy, tired, predictable clichés, widely peddled and overworked clichés but also many concordance lines with it may be a cliché but, it’s a cliché I know but, it may sound like a cliché but and it has become a cliché but.

47 Same or different? Bolinger: “change is seldom on a noticeable scale … [o]ur failure to see the stirrings going on around is due to the brief sampling of time that even the longest human life encompasses” (1975: 385). You can’t step into the same river twice Are we the same person as ten years ago? Are they the same broadsheets?

48 Journalistic interests In language… Dealing with time constraints Use of promotional material Citation forms and the problem of salience Irony and scare quotes Clichés

49 repetition The weekend pages of the Telegraph titles are beginning to look over-familiar as articles are lifted from the week’s output, pruned a bit and re-run in the Saturday or Sunday papers. On Friday 8 January for example readers were treated to film reviews of The Road by Sukhdev Sandhu… and another of It’s Complicated by Tim Robey…. Great stuff. Imagine the joy, then, of being able to read the same words the very next day. Whether this is to refresh the memories of older readers or a desperate attempt to fill space, the self-cannibalism seems to have been spotted by the sub-editors: the Saturday review of the The Road was glumly headlined: “We’ve been down this one before.” (Street of Shame Private Eye )

50 Language awareness? 16) As part of the ‘bigging-up’ or ‘supersizing’ trend, she identifies the use of ‘ova’, ‘uber’ or ‘mega’ prefixes to beef up words. Miss Dent said: ‘Linguistic supersizing is on the increase, and it may show the influence of advertising- speak and corporate jargon on language, in which everything needs to be hyped to get noticed. It means that some of our greatest words are losing their power. Add to this the “hyperinflation”of our language, as just detected by the Oxford English Dictionary. Prefixes such as “ova” and “uber” and “mega” are diluting the power of our words. One of its experts said this week that to be called a hero used to be the highest honour. Now you have to be a superhero to make an impact.’(Telegraph 2005)

51 Promotional material all three broadsheets used the same examples and the same quotation suggests they are not exactly aware of the root of the problem in that, perhaps, the reviews themselves were, ironically, taken from a press release. This multiplied the number of times the words under discussion appeared in our corpus and neatly illustrates the way the forced priming of promotional material works.

52 And now? Prequels? Sequels? The family album The on-line snapshots

53 Thank you

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