A Corpus-based Study of Evaluative Language in Leading Articles in British Broadsheet and Tabloid Newspapers


In the UK, newspapers do more than just spread the news; they influence readers by entertaining and exasperating them. To do this, journalists use language that conveys emotions and creates rapport. This type of interpersonal language has been analysed in terms of evaluation, appraisal and stance. The body of linguistic and non-linguistic literature on this language focuses on challenging assumptions of objectivity and impartiality in news reporting. However, little research has been conducted on evaluative language in institutional editorials, including those of British tabloids and broadsheets. This study, therefore, offers new insights into the nature of authorial and non-authorial evaluations in leading articles in popular and quality British newspapers, the targets of these evaluations and the discourse functions they serve. The study develops a framework of evaluation that can be applied to evaluative lexical items in newspapers’ opinion texts. This framework is both theory-driven – it builds on and modifies previous frameworks of evaluation such as appraisal theory and parameter-based approaches – and data-driven – it elicits the evaluative categories from the analysis of the corpus. One-hundred-and-forty leading articles were selected for analysis. The preliminary findings reveal that the tabloids tend to express their stance through explicitness, unexpectedness, dramatization, frequent references to social actors’ emotions and beliefs, and exaggerated negativity. The broadsheets prefer to express their stance through mitigation, uncertainty, unambiguity and implicitness. Human behaviours, characters, values and ethics were preferable targets for expressing stance in the tabloids, while abstract entities, states of affairs and propositions were preferable targets for the broadsheets.

Author Information
Fatimah Alsaiari, University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2022
Stream: Culture and Language

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon