This article is about headline and its linguistic features. As well as, in the article it was said pragmatic aspects of publicistic headlines. Pragmatic aspects of pulicistic headlines were analyzed with examples.
Key words: newspaper headlines, publicistic, pragmatic, linguistic, semiotic, semantic, communicate with writer or speaker, contextual meaning, symbolizing the connection, association connecting, identification, concept
Today, English has became an international language due to the development of science and new technologies. It is regarded the language of the 21th century, so while describing it, first of all it is underlined with the mother tongue of global media that means technology intended to reach a mass audience. It is evident that without mass media today’s life is unimaginable because they play a big role in our new era with their own function. Mass media in which internet, television, radio, magazines and newspapers provides public with information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture. Among these printed media is one of the most effective ways to inform the freshness news. Attention-getting headlines that demand the writers creativity to grab readers’ interest is the main part of the news or report. As much has been defined the newspaper headlines, it is a title of the whole news item.
According to Kukharenco V. A. headline is a text at the top of a newspaper article, indicating the nature of the article below it. [1. 86.]
I. R. Galperin finds the headline as a dependent form of newspaper writing. Its main function is to inform the reader briefly about the text which follows it. [2.71.]
C.Cotter states that “headlines are short maximally informative and font size or type face a semiotic stand-in for importance”. The impact that headlines achieve through linguistic features makes them memorable. [3.32–36.]
Van Dijk suggested that a headline expresses the major topic of the text. It summarizes the whole report. [4.87.]
Headlines are the most important elements in the newspaper since they inform the reader of what the article is about or as Dor explains that headlines are often scanned by most readers without reading the articles. [5.696.]
The general definition of Headline is the name of literature, scientific or musical produce. Many dictionaries define Headline as a short summary of the most important items of news read at the beginning of a news program on the radio or television. Headline is one of the basic newspaper features. The headline is the title given to a news item or newspaper article.
Publicistic headlines in English has their special writing peculiarities as a result people, who are not native speaker of English, find some difficulties to understand and interpret them. In such moment, Pragmatics, is subfield of linguistics and semiotics, come into use because it is concerned with the study of meaning as communicated by a writer (or speaker) and interpreted by a reader (or listener). In other word, Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning that explores how readers can make inferences about what is written in order to arrive at an interpretation of the author’s intended meaning by the headline.
“Pragmatics is a way of investigating how sense can be made of certain texts even when, from a semantic point of view, the text seems to be either incomplete or to have a different meaning to what is really intended. For instance, a sign seen in a children's wear shop window: “Kids Sale — lots of bargains”. We know without asking that there are no kids are for sale — that what is for sale are items used for kids. Pragmatics allows us to investigate how this “meaning beyond the words” can be understood without ambiguity. The extra meaning is there, not because of the semantic aspects of the words themselves, but because we share certain contextual knowledge with the writer or speaker of the text.
Pragmatics is a simplified way of thinking to recognize the language needs to be kept interesting — a speaker or writer does not want to bore a listener or reader, for example, by being over-long or tedious. Consequently, people attempt to find linguistic means to make a text, shorter, more interesting, more relevant, more purposeful or more personal. Pragmatics allows this.
George Keith notes that: “The vast majority of pragmatics studies have been devoted to conversation, where the silent influence of context and the undercurrents are most fascinating. But he goes on to show how written texts of various kinds can be illuminated by pragmatics, and he cites particular examples from literature. Pragmatics gives us ways into any written text. [6.124.]
We can take the following example, which is a headline from the Guardian newspaper of May 10, 2002.
This read: “Health crisis looms as life expectancy soars.”
We may be puzzled when we study the meaning of the headline. The word “soars” is used as a metaphor. It shows that the average life-expectancy of the residents in UK increases. Most of population is living longer. But why is this crisis for health? Pragmatically, the crisis is not in the longevity of the people or health, the answer is in the financial cost of providing health care for these long-living people in society. For providing this care UK needs to employ more people and pay more.
Another headline example is following: “Two red cross staff awarded by government”. In this headline “red cross staff” refers to symbolize the doctors from Switzerland. Two doctors has been awarded by government in Switzerland. If the reader do not know this usage they will not understand what the writer wants to inform.
“Cosmic dance” (Daily Nation, 01.02.10, p.12).
It implies an unusual cosmic movement. The redactor used metaphor by comparing “cosmic” and “dance”.
“The storm clouds thickened over Ukraine”
(КОММЕРСАНТЪ, 09.08.09, p.15)
“The storm clouds thickened” means that tense struggle between elections. In order to demonstrate the hot atmosphere in Ukraine, the redactor uses the metaphor “The storm clouds thickened”
“A bridge to the past” (Daily Nation, 14.01.10, p.5)
“A bridge to the past” is used for symbolizing the connection between now and past. The redactor uses “A bridge to the past”, to show that the old fashion from the past comes back in the present.
Metonymy is also widely used in publicistic headlines to draw the readers’ attention. It is based on a different type of relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings, a relation based not on identification, but on some kind of association connecting the two concepts which these meanings represent.
“New film in American film and television industry”
(Daily Nation, 12.03.10, p.45)
The American film and television industry” is metonymy which symbolizes a section of Los Angeles. It is Hollywood which makes a new film.
«The White House said: `Yes' FOCUS ON CONSTITUTION»
(Daily Nation, 13.03.10, p.9)
«The White House said» is a metonym for the president and his staff, because the White House is not part of the president or his staff but is closely associated with them.
So, Pragmatics is the study of the expression of relative distance. These are the four areas that pragmatics is concerned with. To understand how it got to be that way, we have to briefly review its relationship with other areas of linguistic analysis. “Pragmatics is all about the meanings between the lexis and the grammar and the phonology. Meanings are implied and the rules being followed are unspoken, unwritten ones.” [6.124].
A simplified way of thinking about pragmatics is to recognize, for example, that language needs to be kept interesting — a speaker or writer does not want to bore a listener or reader, for example, by being over-long or tedious. So, humans strive to find linguistic means to make a text, perhaps, shorter, more interesting, more relevant, more purposeful or more personal. Pragmatics allows this.
To Mirabela and Ariana the pragmatic function is achieved through linguistic features of the headline «The author shows his application of the reader's capability to understand and notice linguistic features by using different linguistic methods to enhance the effect of the headline». [7. 183–188]. Therefore one may conclude that headlines do not necessarily give a summary of the story or article since sometimes the sub-editor tries to arouse the readers' curiosity through different techniques.
To Saeed the context can help in choosing one of the meanings of the word in the case of ambiguity while in the case of vagueness the context can add information that is not specified in the sense. [8. 23]. The following example which can be explained by the context: e.g. I've done the sitting-room. It may be said by a person who has cleaned it, painted it, laid the floor in it, emptied it, set a light to it, etc.
So, the interpretation is dependent on the context. To Fromkin «the meaning of a linguistic expression is built both on the words it contains and its syntactic structure». Headlines have special language which does not follow the rules of normal English grammar. [9. 46–57].
In conclusion, we want to say that publicistic headlines are very important part of news item to inform and to communicate because pragmatically, writers have some purpose in their mind to share the current affairs with the mass audience. Headlines have special language and they don’t follow special grammar rules.
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3. Cotter C. Investigating the language of Journalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2003.
4. Van Dijk. News as discourse. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. 1988.
5. Dor D. On newspaper Headlines as Relevance Optimizers. Journal of Pragmatics. 2003.
6. George Keith. Translating analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005.
7. Mirabella P, Ariana S. The Stylistics of Advertizing. Annals of Oradea University. 2010.
8. Saeed J. Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. 1999.
9. Fromkin V. An introduction to language. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.2007.