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Language of Journalism – The Reason It Alters / ჟურნალისტიკის ენა და მისი შეცვლის მიზეზი

Tamar Karaia / თამარ ქარაია

Master in European Languages and Translation Sokhumi State University / ევროპული ენებისა და თარგმანის მაგისტრი სოხუმის სახელმწიფო უნივერსიტეტი

Keywords: article, headline, addresser, addressee, information, language, newspaper / სტატია, სათაური, მისამართი, ადრესატი, ინფორმაცია, ენა, გაზეთი.

Abstract

The language of the media is powerful. It conveys news, and the stream of words is not just memory prods, but at the same time, it is the reminder of the precise ability of homo sapiens to convey a concept from mind to mind virtually instantaneously and make sensible order of words and combination of thoughts in a reasonable way.

The world of words is one of the most complicated systems, which requires ingenuity to accomplish the highly important task to assemble, transmit and understand knowledge and information. The way language works, is that each persons’ brain contains a lexicon of words and the concepts they stand for and a set of rules that combine the sentences to convey relationship among concepts, collect data and construct intelligence, knowledge and coherence of humankind.

The sheer vastness of language lies in the huge word chain stored in the human brain. Human species are capable of creating an unlimited number of distinct word combination from a finite set of elements. The stored and separate words are grouped into phrases, - like twigs joined in a branch. The small phrases can be joined into bigger ones to make sense, interact and provide information and knowledge. It is a distinctive and essential part of human cooperation and sharing awareness. That is how language functions. Therefore, it is the window to understand the human mind.

Since the language is central to human life in the following article, we aim at illuminating a brief sight of this phenomena in the means of media language, which is a clear example of modernisation and alteration.

Introduction

Media language is a complex and sophisticated phenomenon. We often meet slang, jargon, new combinations in media language, which determine its style and form and distinguishes it from the spoken and literary language. Considering the above-mentioned it has a huge influence on human coherence it may affect human thought and the way of speaking. In the following article, we will discuss language units that are characteristic of media language and briefly answer the key question: How do media use different forms of language to convey information and ideas? How new language forms are created and take their place in the general language?

The main function of media is to draw the readers’ attention to interesting and exiting plots and information relevant to their everyday interests. In the 21st century there is an avalanche of news from which individuals may make their own selections according to their personal taste, interest, views, and preferences that mass media provide them with. The quality and quantity of information we get permanently gives individuals a feeling of social identification and awareness of intellectual strength.[4]

Each form of media – television, radio, the internet, newspaper, as we’ll see below shape our culture. As language is an aspect of our culture, is not an exception to the influence of media. Thus, nowadays we have a dominant media language, which is heard anywhere and has the power to influence our everyday language. It has penetrated deeply in our society and exerts on every human being in that society. Hence, the influence of mass media on language development and creating and using new word combinations to express ideas and concepts are common and the development of language cannot be seen apart of the media itself. Therefore, the outline of the possible implications of the mass media regarding language development, with particular reference to the influence of press, television or other media sources.[8]

The main function of media language is to transmit messages and information. The media can act as a key source of forming new vocabulary, idioms, slang, jargon and different word combinations, as they show innovations and spread new shape of language. In this process, people absorb new vocabulary and using new ways to express their thoughts. Language systematically influences how one perceives and conceptualizes the world. And all of this knowledge of the language is about to connect the world and exchange and share the stored information and thoughts with the appropriate words, that are modernized over time and the media plays the principal role in this operation.

  1. The Article begins with the Headline

No article in any newspaper is published without a headline in any country in the world. This is because, in the composition of newspaper publication, the headline performs a very specific, unique function. The headline should match the content of the publication; It should be concise, succinct and mind-boggling; It should arouse the interest of the reader to get acquainted with the article.

The headline is not abstract. It is one of the main elements of the whole complex subject. According to Kronrod it is a unit, separate form from the news item. Headline consists of elements, such as announcements, rubric, newspaper subject column, title, subtitle, tab in the text. If we take into consideration the perception phycology of the press, in the process of selecting the article, the headline plays a crucial role.[6]

In accordance with the theorists of journalism, the headlines just underline the problem in the article, and the attempt to solve this issue is given later in the same text; In some cases – the headline may be a thesis of the context contained in the text; In other cases – it is so-called code, the key of the text, which can be decrypted only after careful reading of the text.

In addition, newspaper headlines can be informative, nominative, emotional-evaluative, advertising, integrative, and composite. This listing may go even further, but as it is mentioned above, the headline is the most important part of the article. It should attract the readers’ attention; the readers should be interested in the context of the article before they actually read the text; it separates the most significant context from the article and provides readers with preliminary information; the headline also makes it easier to understand the main topic of the article, for which it is written. The reader remembers the article through the headline; and the article that the reader memorizes by the headline, is considered to be influential.

It is beyond despite that in the XXI century, in an extremely busy atmosphere, a huge army of readers get the information from the headlines. Another very important issue, such as the compliance of the headline with the content of the article - is on the agenda; the interplay and interdependence of the headline and the article is a matter of concern.

  1. The language and Journalism

In recent decades, have undergone an unprecedented amount of changes. The speed of transmission has also increased and more and more viewers participate in it actively or passively, therefore it has seen wider public participation. ‘Newspaper and television language’ has been established and implies something between the literary and the professional jargon. The newspaper and television language and style in the modern condition alter the language we speak with. Based on the demands of the modern journalism, the journalist has to convey the information briefly, rationally, and shortly; to put in another way, they need to promote as much information as possible in a few words; This should be done at their earliest convenience.[1]

An abundance of information in the present times gives possibilities to the journalists to utilize the elements of the language that are relevant to the present-day situation. In the contemporary press, both foreign and Georgian reality, we often encounter jargon, slang, and neologisms. Journalists should be careful, when writing an article or making TV programme, to avoid such forms, which could be confusing for the audience.

Language is primarily an expression of culture and we can define the culture by the language it belongs to. Thus, we could not understand a particular culture without having direct access to its culture, because they have very special intimate connection. Language is also a measure of person’s mental capacity. Language as a means of communication involves the art of conveying thought correctly and concisely, as well as distorting or concealing (coding) the thought. Except the newspaper or television language, there is the language of literature, science, diplomacy, computer, justice, advertisement, gestures and mimics, music, cinema, architecture, and so on.[5]

From our history and modern age, the language caretakers knew well that declining the language means disappearing of the people speaking this language from the field of history. Therefore, language is the primary and foremost sign of nation’s identification. It usually reflects social reality more plainly and swiftly than other system or events.

When we discuss of the relationship between language and journalism, we consider the following as one of the most acceptable explanations of language: language is what our thought will transform later, language is a clear expression of human thinking – it could be oral, written, gestures and mimics and so on. Scientists, who study human nature and human capacities agree that all normal human acquire language for communication, whereas the acquisition of even its basic rudiments is quite beyond the capacities of an intelligent ape. Consequently, human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world. Hence, if we take scientific truth into consideration that bees, dolphins, dogs, beavers and all animals and birds can communicate with each other, then they also have the ability to think. If the way of thinking is primitive, it is natural that the means of expression would be primitive and scarce.[2]

One of the main functions of language is that it is the means of communication. There is the transmitter – speech apparatus (speech organ), which produces the sounds of language; and the receiver – listening apparatus (listening organ), that analysis transmitted and receiving information and gathering it in the brain. This information is the quite complex system of sounds, letters or other signs.

From the above mentioned, we can conclude that language is the interconnection of signs, sounds, words, sentences, text, what transforms human thoughts into speech.

As the Nobel Prize winner, Chinese novelist – Gao Xingjian (1999) said: ‘The human need for language is not simply for the transmission of meaning, it is at the same time listening to and affirming a person’s existence… Language is inherently not concerned with logic. As an expression of the psychological activities of humankind, it simply follows a linear process as it seeks actualisation. Moreover, it does not obey the objective concepts of time and space that belong to the physical world…’

Therefore, the journalist’s knowledge and attitude towards the language is of great importance. The journalist must understand and comprehend the speech of politicians, artists, scientists and other public figures, and convey the meaning of the conversation to the audience as seamlessly as possible.

  1. Pragmatic functions and lexical categories of newspaper language

As we know the article consists of paragraphs and these paragraphs make up the text. The paragraphs are related to each other and are arranged thematically.

The opinion of the author or writer should not be expressed. The reader or the listener should not hear the author’s subjective opinion, but they must get accurate information about a particular case of fact. We can say that the purpose of the author is to convey the story objectively

The author of the article must take certain requirements into account. The addresser should write engagingly. To make the article interesting and attract readers’ attention, the author or the addresser should consider the following:

  1. The addresser should choose an interesting headline that appeals to the readers and listeners (addressees). It is the target of the author. The form and the content of the article depend on the addressee. It can be official (formal) and unofficial (informal);
  2. The beginning of the article should be absorbing to enchant the audience. After reading the very first paragraph, the reader should be eager to peruse it;
  3. The author should describe specific facts and events, not broad concepts or generalizations;
  4. He must use relevant and compelling words and phrases with expressive adjectives and adverbs;
  5. The article should include novelty;
  6. The article should not be too long. It should have consequently good conclusion;
  7. The addresser must consider the audience, to whom the article is intended. The age, the nationality, the interest of the reader should also be regarded. The author should take into account what the reader knows about the particular topic and what he needs to explain;
  8. The author must be aware of the purpose of his/her article.[9]

The structure of the article should be the following: it must have a headline, paragraphs and conclusion. In the report, the discussion should focus on one particular topic and its title should be relevant to the context.

The conclusion of the article is as significant as the headline or the first paragraph. It must have some necessary tips to be good and powerful:

  1. Return to the theme in the introduction: it periphrases the introduction;
  2. Make the disclaimers;
  3. Purpose a course of action, a solution to the issue;
  4. Ask a question;
  5. Summarize the article;
  6. Provide the reader with a sense of closure on the topic.[3]

In the article, we want to review is quite interesting and grabs the attention of the reader from the very beginning. Its headline is also catchy: ‘The vaccine hunters racing to save the world from the coronavirus pandemic.’

The first paragraph is engrossing:

‘In a laboratory in the depths of Imperial Collage London, all eyes are on a group of mice scurrying about their daily business. The rodents were injected a few weeks ago with a prototype vaccine which it is hoped will achieve what the world has so far singularly failed to do so far – stop the coronavirus Covid-19’.[10]

There is not the opinion of the author. He tells us about viral pneumonia without any single hint of his point of view. The language of this article is academic and diverse.

In the article, there are two subjects: the author of the article – addresser and the reader – addressee. We will give a brief review of the pragmatic functions and lexical categories which focus on newspaper language and the peculiarities of their use in the article. They are the following: location function, modality function, assessment function, emotional function and distance function.

Generally, they distinguish objective and subjective modality. The objective modality is not characteristic to the literary text. The newspaper article, we are discussing about, is characterized by objective modality. The objective modality is a relationship between the described situation and the real fact.

The emotional function does not fit with the above-mentioned article, because, as we mentioned the emotion of the author does not appear in the article. He does not express his feelings and emotion in the article. He gives an objective account of the event.

This article also does not apply to the function of distance, as the author himself is not involved in the story.

The addresser must consider his audience, which is the basis for the success of the communication act. In order to be interesting and effective, the language in the article should be informative, expressive and transparent. The mentioned article is a clear example of it.

The location function is found at the beginning of the article: ‘In a laboratory in the depths of Imperial Collage London…’ and it is obvious where the event takes place.

In this article, two functional moments of expressiveness are combined together. The addresser tries to impact the addressees and attract their attention. As we mentioned, the article is communicative, clear and relevant, therefore it is effective and absorbing.

Conclusion

The following article reviews the linguistic and structural characteristic of media and the different functions that is attributive for newspaper language. As we discussed above, the media – press, television, newspaper did become a changing power of society and the way of communication. Therefore, it is conspicuous the mass media functions as a significant source of language changing. The result is media creates new words, makes prevailing words disappear, uses abbreviations and spreads the outcome on human language. However, the media brought various changes, the most obvious and crystal clear is the way people talk to each other due to modern technology and media influence.

The emergence of new technologies usually causes new words, In the case of news and media many existing words got new meanings, lot of new words that producing in this process, many informal types of spoken language catch our ear and become the part of everyday use without much effort. The media has changed the way we communicate, all of these changes none might be as influential as language changes. The media obviously created the new language and therefore caused a current chapter of language change.

It is clear, that the formation and alteration of a language eventually have political and economic causes, as well as technical development. It shapes our thoughts. We can merely say that if thought corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought. This modulation of language reflects existing social condition, words and constructions that take its path to the human brain through the media.

For the reason language focus on creativity and productivity, it is not unexpected that language is constant renewal and the acquisition of new terms and combinations often does not require much commitment of time and it often occurs unaccountably, without reasoning. And all these huge data of world of the words are gathered in the human memory, which later expressed as sentences, opinions, information and knowledge. So the language is the window to the human mind.

References:

  1. Aitchison, Jean, Diana M. Lewis – ‘New Media Language’, Routledge – 2003.
  2. Chomsky, Noam – ‘Language and Mind, Linguistic Contributions to the Study of Mind’, 1968.
  3. Fleming, Grace – ‘How to Write a News Article That’s Effective’, 2019.
  4. Gerber, George – ‘Mass Media Discourse: Message System as a Component of Cultural Independence, 1988.
  5. Guessabi, Fatima – ‘Blurring the Line Between Language and Culture’, Language Magazine, 2018.
  6. Knordor, Ann – ‘Accessibility Theory and Referring Expression in Newspaper Headlines’; Journal of Pragmatics, 2001.
  7. Kokoros, Teddy – ‘Mass Media and its Effect on Language Maintenance and Acquisition’, 2018.
  8. Willie, Michael – ‘The Mass Media and Language Development’; Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, 1979.
  9. Koridze, Teimuraz – ‘Conversations About Journalism’, Tbilisi,2010.
  10. The Independent – ‘The Vaccine Hunters Racing to save the World from the Coronavirus Pandemic’, by Joe Shute, 2020.

The New Economist, N1-2 (2020), Vol 15, Issue 1.

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Published Date:

02/07/2020