Analyzing report an event in a persuasive way

Analyzing
referring terms presents an insightful perspective on ways in which prior
discourse get intertextually evoked and re-voiced. They are an important
discursive device by which media can report an event in a persuasive way that
supports and reinforces certain ideologies. I use ‘referring term’ to indicate
the way newspapers denote people or abstract entities using certain descriptive
lexical items, mainly nouns or noun phrases and adjectives. In this section, I
will first briefly present some linguistic perspectives on reference from
conversation and discourse analysis points of view, followed by an overview of
referencing in Modern Standard Arabic, where nouns and adjectives are marked
for number and gender.

            Referring
terms have been examined from a number of perspectives in linguistics and
communication studies. Early work by Sacks and Schegloff (20071979) examined
how referring terms are structured with two main preferences: first, “minimization,”
in which reference is preferably presented in a single form (2007:24), and
second, “recipient design,” in which the speaker would alter and tailor their
referring terms based on their interlocutors shared prior knowledge and their
ability to recognize these referring terms. Levinson (2007) added
“circumspection,” in which speakers would consider the “local” context,
situational and cultural, and the constraints within this context. In my
analysis, the institutional context of media discourse and the government’s
laws regarding women driving constrain the referring terms of each newspaper
based on their agenda and political orientation.

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            Reference
in narratives has been explored in a number of discourse analysis studies. De
Fina (2006) examined the implications of referring terms in constructing
individual and group identities. She tracked the use of devices that mark
membership categorization (Sacks, 1995) in narratives of Mexican immigrants in
the United States. She found that terms like “Hispanic” and “Latino” in their
narratives index the narrator’s identity in relation to the social group, and
often involves contrast with others who belong to opposite social groups
(2003:153). Schiffrin (2006) analyzed the variation in linguistic reference by
tracing them in a narrative of a Holocaust survivor telling her story about how
she and her family were captured by Nazis, and comparing the reference devices
to another narrative about a school prank in the narrator’s childhood. One of
the most important findings of the study has to do with the use of the
first-person plural “we” when it refers to multiple third parties. She found
that it indexes the narrator’s alignment with the referenced group in the
narrative, as well as revealing the narrator’s worldview and their ideological
viewpoint within the realm of the narrative.

            Such
findings become relevant in the media stories analyzed in my data, where
similar patterns in the use of referring terms surface. These patterns of
reference become even more interesting and insightful in grammatically gendered
languages, such as Arabic, where nouns and pronouns are marked for gender and
number. In the following section, I will briefly present some background
information on Arabic language and its grammatical situation. 

Analyzing
referring terms presents an insightful perspective on ways in which prior
discourse get intertextually evoked and re-voiced. They are an important
discursive device by which media can report an event in a persuasive way that
supports and reinforces certain ideologies. I use ‘referring term’ to indicate
the way newspapers denote people or abstract entities using certain descriptive
lexical items, mainly nouns or noun phrases and adjectives. In this section, I
will first briefly present some linguistic perspectives on reference from
conversation and discourse analysis points of view, followed by an overview of
referencing in Modern Standard Arabic, where nouns and adjectives are marked
for number and gender.

            Referring
terms have been examined from a number of perspectives in linguistics and
communication studies. Early work by Sacks and Schegloff (20071979) examined
how referring terms are structured with two main preferences: first, “minimization,”
in which reference is preferably presented in a single form (2007:24), and
second, “recipient design,” in which the speaker would alter and tailor their
referring terms based on their interlocutors shared prior knowledge and their
ability to recognize these referring terms. Levinson (2007) added
“circumspection,” in which speakers would consider the “local” context,
situational and cultural, and the constraints within this context. In my
analysis, the institutional context of media discourse and the government’s
laws regarding women driving constrain the referring terms of each newspaper
based on their agenda and political orientation.

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For You For Only $13.90/page!


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            Reference
in narratives has been explored in a number of discourse analysis studies. De
Fina (2006) examined the implications of referring terms in constructing
individual and group identities. She tracked the use of devices that mark
membership categorization (Sacks, 1995) in narratives of Mexican immigrants in
the United States. She found that terms like “Hispanic” and “Latino” in their
narratives index the narrator’s identity in relation to the social group, and
often involves contrast with others who belong to opposite social groups
(2003:153). Schiffrin (2006) analyzed the variation in linguistic reference by
tracing them in a narrative of a Holocaust survivor telling her story about how
she and her family were captured by Nazis, and comparing the reference devices
to another narrative about a school prank in the narrator’s childhood. One of
the most important findings of the study has to do with the use of the
first-person plural “we” when it refers to multiple third parties. She found
that it indexes the narrator’s alignment with the referenced group in the
narrative, as well as revealing the narrator’s worldview and their ideological
viewpoint within the realm of the narrative.

            Such
findings become relevant in the media stories analyzed in my data, where
similar patterns in the use of referring terms surface. These patterns of
reference become even more interesting and insightful in grammatically gendered
languages, such as Arabic, where nouns and pronouns are marked for gender and
number. In the following section, I will briefly present some background
information on Arabic language and its grammatical situation. 

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