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Are there different linguistic features between online news stories?

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Are there different linguistic features between online news stories?


  I am studying two online news stories from The Sun and The Guardian websites because these two have such very different stereotypes, such as having different levels of register, which I believe would lead to vocabulary and other linguistic features being different.


  I believe that The Sun news story will have simple linguistic features than that of The Guardian news story, because The Sun news stories are aimed in general to everyone, whereas, The Guardian news stories are aimed at a more educated audience. I expect that the tabloid news story, The Sun, will have less complicated vocabulary and lexis as well as more sensational fields to interest the readers more. I suspect that the broadsheet news story, The Guardian, will be the opposite and have more complicated vocabulary and have a more focused semantic field, as it is not aimed at a wide audience.


  To analyse my work, I will systematically use frameworks of the English language to see whether my hypothesis is correct and if there are any linguistic features between online newspapers.



  In The Sun news story, the majority of the sentences are simple, with very few complex sentences, such as “The value of the pieces stolen varies from £5,000 to £30,000.

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Semantics and Pragmatics

  The words used constantly portray the thieves as dreadful people. For instance, “I don’t think it’s been stolen by ‘Mr Big’ for his private collection.” It makes the people behind the thefts be perceived as a gang leader or connotations of a person related to a mafia business.

  The Sun has several semantic fields but the main one is about the thefts of the pieces of art. The thefts are the more focused aspect because it is more sensational than the history of the artefacts. “Newspapers have always aroused strong feelings, whether intentional or not.”(1) Words such as “police, gang, mob, stolen, haul, detectives” is used to give the topic meaning and set the semantic field. “Tabloid prose at its best – excitable, exuberant, always vigorous, sometimes vitriolic – is a lively and valuable asset to the language.”(2)

The Guardian, however, is more about the missing pieces of art, and not so much about the actual thefts. It also gives some information and history about the art and artists. “Missing, disappeared, remaining, taken” and other words are used to give information about the pieces.

  The style of The Sun is written in a 3rd person perspective. By doing this, it makes the piece seem more passive as though it is just based on the writer’s opinions.

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  In The Sun, alliteration is used to make certain words stand out and capture reader’s attention. “Sculpture vultures” or “Meltdown Mob” Are used to promote emotions from the readers and show the writers view on the matter, which is obviously negative because of the connotations and semantic field related to the words used in the alliteration. The Guardian has certain words such as “monumental” or “boosted”, which have lots of emphasis on certain syllables and produce very distinct and emotive phonemes.

Which website the story is from

The Sun (Total of 451 words)

The Guardian (Total of 716 words)

Number of polysyllabic words



Number of monosyllabic words



The two newspaper stories are online and free so anyone with internet access can view them, which makes them different to actual tabloid and broadsheet newspapers as the layouts and actual stories could be expected to be different. The Sun news story is aimed at a wider audience by not using such difficult vocabulary and using frameworks in such a way that is easier to understand. The Guardian does the opposite and has a more difficult vocabulary including more polysyllabic words in general.


Language and Style, Michael Jago, 1999, Hodder and Stoughton

AS and A2 English Language, Keith Waterhouse, 2003, Revision Express

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