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International Journal of Communication

A contrastive analysis of English and Persian newspaper headlines

A contrastive analysis of English and Persian newspaper headlines

F. Khodabandeh

ABSTRACT

Considering the absence of contrasting English and Persian newspaper headlines, the present study was an attempt to conduct a contrastive analysis between the newspaper headlines of English and Persian languages in order to find the major similarities and differences between them. The analysis was based on a one-week corpus of the headlines of English and Persian languages. Utilizing CA, the researcher analyzed the variability of syntactic and lexical features across and within the English and Persian newspaper headlines. It was concluded that the headlines of English and Persian languages were similar in using dynamic verbs, active voice, short words, declarative sentences, finite clauses, and simple sentences and different in the use of tense forms, headline types, modification, and omission of words. This study has pedagogical implications for teaching journalistic English and translation.

Keywords: Contrastive analysis, headlines, syntactic and lexical features.

1. INTRODUCTION

Conventionally, it is believed that newspapers have more readers than any other kind of written text. According to Van Dijk (1986: 156), “for most citizens, news is perhaps the type of written discourse with which they are confronted most frequently.” In the newspaper it is the headlines that have the highest readership. It summarizes the content of a story, and entices an audience into reading the article. According to Ungerer (2000: 48), “a headline describes the essence of a complicated news story in a few words. It informs quickly and accurately and arouses the reader’s curiosity.” News headlines are particularly important for the way readers comprehend a news text, they are markers that monitor attention, perception and the reading process (Van Dijk 1988).

Many students of English find that newspaper headlines are especially difficult to understand. Obviously, it is not just a matter of vocabulary; even the style of writing is different from any other text they have met in their studies. The language of headlines is special and has its own characteristics on the lexical, syntactic, and rhetorical levels for its brevity, attractiveness, and clarity (Reah 1998). These language features pose a great challenge to foreign learners of English when they begin to read English newspapers. This is hardly surprising for, as Waterhouse (as cited in Sanderson 1999: 29) points out, “this genre of language is not one that people actually use in normal, everyday speech.” There is, however, a clear pattern in this special genre; once the rules and tactics are understood a lot of difficulties may disappear.

The key to ease the difficulty of this special genre lies in the comparison between foreign and native languages (Connor 1996). Thereby, a systematic contrastive analysis of English and Persian headlines was conducted to investigate the similarities and differences between the newspaper headlines of English and Persian languages.

2. REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE

Headlines are obviously one of the striking features of modern newspapers. Therefore it is not surprising that they have been studied quite extensively not only by journalists but also by linguists. Some of the few existing linguistic studies of headlines will be reviewed below.

Straumann’s (1935) study of headline English is undoubtedly pioneer work. His approach was to treat the language of headlines as an autonomous language. He classifieds headlines in terms of neutrals, nominals, verbals and particles. The first section of his classification contains words in their common form. In the following sections he arranges them in s-forms, and in three variables, semi-variables and invariables. Classification is further arranged in d-forms, ing forms, ly-, er- and (e) st-forms.

The complexity of headlines has been investigated by Brisau (1969). He measured complexity in terms of clauses, which were thus singled out from other units as a gauge of complexity. In 3000 headlines Brisau found 264 examples of headlines containing two or more clauses, which was less than 10% of the total number. Brisau concluded that more complex structures than two very simple clauses linked together rarely occurred in headlines. He mentioned, however, that the linguistic make-up of the headline could vary widely from one newspaper to another.

Mardh (1980) offers an exhaustive study of the characteristic features of the headlines of a range of English newspapers. She identifies the following linguistic features as typical of headlines in English newspapers: the omission of articles; the omission of verbs and of auxiliaries (the verb “to be” for example); nominalizations; the frequent use of complex noun phrases in subject position (in theme position); adverbial headlines, with the omission of both verb and subject; the use of short words (“bid” instead of “attempt”); the widespread use of puns, word play and alliteration; the importance of word order, with the most important items placed first, even, in some cases, a verb; and independent “wh” constructions not linked to a main clause (an example: Why the French don’t give a damn), a form not found in standard English.

Van Dijk (1988) analyzed a five-decker from the New York Times. He sees the journalistic process as beginning with a headline and working through lead to body copy. He analyzed over 400 headlines in the Dutch press reporting the 1985 Tamil panic, an occasion of racial tensions between the Dutch and immigrant groups. He found that the authorities dominated first position in the headline, with active verbs. When the disadvantaged Tamils were mentioned first, the verb tended to be passive.

Kniffka’s (as cited in Bell 1991) detailed comparison of leads and headlines found a high level of structural correspondence between the two. The subeditor tends to reproduce the syntactic patterns of the lead in the headline. Kniffka (1980) found that the presence of active or passive voice in the lead was carried over to the headline. According to Kniffka, headline structures appear to be very regular across languages. He confirmed his analysis of both German and American English news texts, finding their leads and headlines structurally identical. The regularity is so consistent that he concludes there is a shared international grammar of lead and headline-writing.

Mouillaud and Tetu (as cited in Develotte & Rechniewski 2000), analysing Le Monde, suggest the following features as typical of headlines: the suppression of spatial and particularly temporal markers; the use of the present tense of verbs (where they are used) as opposed to–or in place of–any other tenses; the replacement of verbs by nominalisations; the suppression of declarative verbs and the disappearance of signs of speech (quotation marks; personal pronouns).

Scollon (2000), in his study of five days of three editions of the same newspaper in its Chinese and English editions, argues that the English headlines, following on general western journalistic practice put the main point right in the headline in what has also been called a deductive rhetorical mode. The Chinese headline, on the other hand, uses the headline to establish the setting but do not provide any further information about the content of the talks, which is the inductive ordering of the topics elsewhere found in contrast between Chinese and English language news stories. In other words the major difference lies in whether the headline focuses directly on the central topic found within the body of the story or the setting.

Sullet-Nylander (2000) described and analysed the textual “genre” of the French newspaper headlines. According to him, the macrosyntactic configuration of a press headline can be represented in four types of phrasal constructions, one of which is considered relatively “unmarked.” The three other types namely: parataxis, noun phrase + prepositional and single nonverbal phrase are considered more specific of headlines. Compared with similar kinds of utterances such as book titles or captions, the complete sentence is much more frequent in newspaper headlines. His thesis shows that a headline can be characterized by regular linguistic/textual features, even though each newspaper has diverse ways of constructing and staging the news in its headlines, depending on the communicative functions assigned to them. As mentioned in the literature review of this study, some contrastive studies of headlines have raised the question of whether similar features can be found in varying cultures and languages. Considering the absence of such an analysis related to English and Persian, this study intended to investigate the application of syntactic and lexical features in newspaper headlines in order to uncover to what extent the two languages were compatible in these domains.

3. METHOD

The information regarding the research method, materials and procedures is presented below.

3.1. Materials

To carry out the comparison between the headlines, an English and a Persian news site were randomly selected from among all available online news sources from the Internet, namely Yahoo news for the English headlines and IRIB news for the Persian ones. The headlines issued during a seven-day period from November 29 to December 05, 2003. The number of English and Persian headlines arrived at a total of 792 and 725 from the two sources respectively.

3.2. Procedure

This research was directed toward studying the syntactic and lexical features of English and Persian corpora in such a way that by a systematic comparison, the differences and similarities between the sample headlines of the two languages would be identified. At the start, the investigation began with the description of the basic units of analysis in the English headline structures (categories, word classes, constructions) and continued with the analysis of the Persian headlines. In doing so, for the analysis of the structure of English headlines, the grammatical framework provided by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Savartvik (1985) was chosen, and for the analysis of Persian headlines, the grammar provided by Natel Khanlari (1979) was used to inform the study.

As mentioned before, this study pinpointed the cases of utilization of lexical and syntactic features in English and Persian headlines in order to see in what ways the two languages are different. Below is a brief description of syntactic and lexical features.

3.2.1. Syntactic features

Syntax refers to the rules for ordering and connecting words into sentences. More generally, it refers to the study of the interrelationships between all elements of sentence structure, and of the rules governing the arrangements of sentences in sequences. It allows various possibilities to be exploited for effective linguistic communication (Crystal 1992; Radford 1997; Trask 1999).

A systematic description of syntactic features of headlines includes headline types, functional types, and complexity in headlines of the two languages.

3.2.1.1. Headline types

In order to get an overall picture of the structure of English and Persian headlines, Mardh’s model (1980) was chosen. Following Mardh’s model, the corpus was divided into three basic groups: verbal, nominal and adverbial headlines.

3.2.1.1.1. Verbal headlines

A verbal headline contains a verb phrase or part of a verb phrase that is not dominated by a noun phrase (Mardh 1980). In the sample headlines, the main structural types of verbal headlines were distinguished according to finite verb phrases, non-finite verb phrases, headlines with omitted auxiliary, subject complement (SCs) headlines, and subject adverbial (SA) headlines.

3.2.1.1.1.1. Finite verb phrases contain a finite verb form which may be either an operator or a simple present or past form (Quirk et al. 1985).

Australian Opposition Leader Quits (30.11.2003) Iran qaehreman koshti asiya shod (10.9.1382) (Iran became the champion in Asia.)

3.2.1.1.1.2. Non-finite verb phrases consist of a participle or infinitive, which may be followed by an object or an adverbial (Spears 1976).

Getting a Small Audience for Bad News (30.11.2003) Koshteh shodaen 54 aeraqi daer ataesh sozi (12.9.1382) (54 Iraqi were killed in a fire.)

3.2.1.1.1.3. Subject adverbial headlines have no verb, but a form of the copula be can be inserted between the noun phrase and adverb in English sentences (Mardh 1980; Schneider 2000), and aest at the end of the Persian ones.

Bush o in Baghdad (29.11.2003) 70% zaexayer naeft jaehan daer xavaeremiyaneh o (8.9.1382) (70% of oil supplies o in Middle East.)

3.2.1.1.1.4. Subject complement phrases or omission-of-copula type consist of a noun phrase as subject and a noun phrase as subject complement. In English structures, a form of the verb be, may be inserted between the subject noun phrase and the noun phrase functioning as subject complement (Mardh 1980; Quirk et al. 1985), and in the Persian, aest or shod can be inserted at the end of the sentence.

Supreme Court opinions o Not Private Enough (3.12.2003) Rezazadeh behtaerin vaerzeshkar jaehan o (9.9.1382) (Rezazaded o the best athlete in the world)

3.2.1.1.1.5. Verbal headlines with omitted auxiliary are headlines in which the verb is non-finite and in which forms of “be” are left out before the verb (Mardh 1980).

Six Spanish Intel Officers o Killed in Iraq (29.11.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

3.2.1.1.2. Nominal headlines

A nominal phrase is an expression headed by a noun (Radford 1997). In order to examine syntactic variation within the noun phrases across the two languages, the structural types of nominal headlines were analyzed according to unmodification, premodification, postmodification and pre [+] post modification.

3.2.1.1.2.1. Unmodification: Structures in which the head of noun phrase is not modified by any other item are referred to as unmodified structures (Quirk et al. 1985; Spears 1976).

Chief (30.11.2003) Felestin (8.9.1382) (Palestine)

3.2.1.1.2.2. Premodification: A premodifier is a modifier that precedes the word it modifies (Quirk et al. 1985; Spears 1976).

Artificial Sweeteners (30.11.2003) 14 koshteh daer hadeseh otobos daer malezi (9.9.1382) (14 people were killed in a bus accident in Malaysia.)

3.2.1.1.2.3. Postmodification: A postmodifier is a modifier or quantifier that follows the constituent it modifies (Quirk et al. 1985; Spears 1976).

The Future of Data Storage (5.12.2003) Zob yaexchalhaye taebie (10.9.1382) (Glacier melting)

3.2.1.1.2.4. Pre [+] post Modifications: Structures which have both pre- and post-modifiers are referred to as pre [+] post modified headlines, e.g.

The Solar System that Neptune Built (1.12.2003) Sevomin haemayesh meli zaefaeran (12.9.1382) (The 3rd international meeting of Saffron)

3.2.1.1.3. Adverbial headlines

An adverbial clause (headline) is an expression headed by a word, phrase, or clause that is equivalent in its structural role to an adverb (Fallahi 1991).

Before You Babysit (4.12.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

3.2.1.2. Analyzing headline types by function Headlines can be divided into four functional types: statements, questions, commands and exclamations (Mardh 1980; McLoughlin 2000).

A statement headline describes a state of affairs, actions, feelings or belief.

China to Let Foreign Banks Provide Money (1.12.2003) Rezazadeh behtaerin vaerzeshkar jaehan (9.9.1382) (Rezazaded the best athlete in the world)

A command headline expresses a request or advice.

Put These Question Marks by the Hardware (30.11.2003) Be maerdom aeraq komaek konid. (10.9.1382) (Help the Iraqi people.)

An exclamation headline shows the writer’s or speakers feelings.

Turkey + Duck + Chicken = Turducken! (29.11.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

A question headline is addressed to a reader or listener and asks for an expression of fact, opinion, belief etc.

Hot Cocoa, the Healthy Drink? (5.12.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

This study focused on the cases of functional headline types in the English and Persian headlines to see whether they are used commonly in the two languages.

3.2.1.3. Complexity in headlines

The classification of headlines was done in terms of simple, compound and complex sentences.

A simple headline contains only one predicate.

Bush Focuses on Raising Campaign Funds (1.12.2003) Iran emros barany aest. (10.9.1382) (Today, it is rainy in Iran.)

A complex headline contains one or more dependent clauses, in addition to its independent, or main clause.

DNA tests say Lindbergh fathered three children in Germany (29.11.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

A compound headline contains two or more independent clauses which are joined by coordination.

Report: Teen Admits Subway Slay (1.12.2003) Oropa hoshdar dad, amrica taerefeh ra laeqv kaerd (13.9.1382) (Europe ordered, the United States rejected the tariff.)

Following Mardh’s model (1980), headlines which consisted of more than one clause were divided into two types: edited quotation and unedited quotation.

3.2.1.3.1. Edited quotations: In edited quotations the items that would occur in direct speech are left out.

Report: Tiger Woods o Engaged (29.11.2003) Xaerazi: taenha rahe haele aeraq (12.9.1382) (Kharazi, The only solution of Iraq)

3.2.1.3.2. Unedited quotations: In contrast to edited quotations, unedited quotations do not differ from what may actually be heard in speech.

Judge to Babs: You Are Dismissed (4.12.2003) Ivankovich: razi nistaem (8.9.1382) (Ivankovich: I am not satisfied.)

3.2.1.4. Structure of verb phrases

In terms of the structure of the verb phrase, the English and Persian headlines were divided into finite clauses, non-finite clauses and verbless clauses in order to investigate their similarities and differences in the two languages.

Finite clauses are clauses in which the first or only word of the verb is a finite form.

Bush Plane Flew Under False Cover on Iraq Trip (5.12.2003) Zelzeleh mazaendran ra laerzand (12.9.1382) (Earthquake hit Mazandaran.)

Non-finite clauses are clauses whose phrase is non-finite, i.e. the verb lacks tense, number, and mood.

Man Caught with 177 Cigarette packs in Trousers (29.1.2003) Napaedid shodaen 10 mohajer daer espania (10.9.1382) (10 immigrants disappeared in Spain.)

Verbless clauses are clauses which contain no verb element, e.g.

Factory Growth Fastest in 20 Years (30.11.2003) Rezazadeh behtaerin vaerzeshkar jaehan (9.9.1382) (Rezazaded the best athlete in the world)

3.2.1.5. Headline length

In order to examine the equality of length in the headlines of the two languages, the headlines in the corpora were investigated with respect to the average number of words per headline.

For example, the longest headlines found in the English and Persian headlines were consisted of 12 and 15 words in each sample respectively.

Yes, I’ll Give You My Cells- If You Back Man United (29.11.2003)

Reisjomhor : ma taelash mikonim ke raevabete dostaneh vae haesaeneh ba haemeyeh keshvaerhayeh haemsayeh dashteh bashim. (8.9.1382)

(President: we try to maintain friendly relations with all of our neighbors.)

3.2.2. Lexical features

Lexicology, in its most general sense, is synonymous with vocabulary; and, in its technical sense, it deals with the analysis of words (Quirk et al. 1985). Under lexicology, the individual words such as nouns, verbs, articles, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, conjunctions, pronouns and prepositions were analyzed in both English and Persian headlines in order to determine the frequency of their occurrence.

3.2.2.1. Nouns

A noun is a word which (a) can occur as the subject or object of a verb or the object of a preposition, (b) can be modified by an adjective, and (c) can be used with determiners. Nouns typically refer to people, animals, places, things, or abstractions (Murphy 1997; Natel Khanlari 1979).

Bush Comments on Surprise Trip to Baghdad (30.11.2003) Ivanoif: englis beh rosiyeh tohin kaerd (9.9.1382) (Ivanoif: England insulted Russia.)

The distinct features of nouns used in headlines are the frequent appearance of the proper nouns, the acronyms, and the abbreviations (Baddock 1988). These features were investigated in headlines of the two languages to determine the frequency of their occurrence.

3.2.2.1.1. Proper nouns

Proper nouns are basically names of specific people, places, months, days, festivals, magazines, and so forth (Quirk et al. 1985).

IOC Member Robbed in Athens (29.11.2003) Pirozi, saypa ra maeqlob kaerd (9.9.1382) (Pirozi defeated Saypa.)

3.2.2.1.2. Acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms are words derived from the initials of several words. This process is widely used in shortening extremely long words or word groups in science, technology and other special fields (Fromkin & Rodman 1999).

Palestinian PM Rules Out Immediate Sharon Talks (29.11.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

Abbreviation is a reduced version of a word, phrase, or sentence. It is also called clipping (Crystal 1992).

Japan Govt. to Nationalize Regional Bank (30.11.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

3.2.2.2. Verbs

Verb is an important lexical category, and one which is seemingly universal. In both English and Persian languages, verb is the part of speech which, carries markers of grammatical categories such as tense, aspect, person, number and mood and refers to an action or state (Leech & Svartvik 1994; Natel Khanlari 1979; Trask 1993).

Verb categories were analyzed in both English and Persian headlines to see differences and similarities across the two languages.

3.2.2.2.1. Tense and aspect forms

“Tense” stands for the relationship between the form of the verb and the time of the action or state it describes. Every language is capable of expressing limitless distinctions of time. Traditionally, tense is classified into present, past, and future. (Crystal 1992; Nobahar 1995; Quirk et al. 1985).

One of the idiosyncratic features of the English headlines is the special uses it makes of tenses, which are different from those of ordinary, non-headline language. In general, there is not a one to one correspondence between grammatical senses and the real time of occurrence of an event. Tenses are used in English headlines as follows (Baddock 1988; McLoughlin 2000; Sanderson 1999):

1) The simple present is often used to refer to events which happened in the past.

Bush Ends Steel Tariffs (4.12.2003)

2) The past tense is sometimes used to refer to events which happened in the past.

Bush Plane Flew Under False Cover on Iraq Trip (3.12.2003)

3) The infinitive is used to refer to future events.

Books to Brighten the Joyous Season (4.12.2003)

4) The -ing form of the verb, representing the present progressive, is used to refer to events that are happening at the moment, and also to events which happen in the future.

Actress Geena Davis Expecting Twins (2.12.2003)

Tense forms are used in Persian headlines as follows:

1) The simple present is used to refer to events which happened in the present.

Reisjomhor be amrica miraevaed. (13.9.1382) (The president is going to the United States.)

2) The past tense is used to refer to events which happened in the past.

Zelzeleh mazaendran ra laerzand (12.9.1382) (Earthquake hit Mazandaran.)

3) The future tense is used to refer to events which happened in the future.

Faerda Shahed taezahorat milyoni maerdom khahim bod. (10.9.1382)

(Tomorrow we will see the massive demonstration of thousands of people.)

Aspect is a grammatical category which deals with how the event described by a verb is viewed, such as whether it is in progress, habitual, repeated, momentary, etc. In both English and Persian, aspect may be indicated by prefixes, suffixes or other changes to the verb, or by auxiliary verbs (Natel Khanlari 1979; Quirk et al. 1985).

Happiness is not chasing the buck. (1.12.2003) (No example from the Persian corpus)

Many headlines are unmarked for tense (Mardh 1980). They have no finite form of be in English and aest in Persian. They have no verb to indicate time.

Japanese Companies o More Optimistic (4.12.2003) Saeraetan dovomin amel maerg o mir daer jaehan o (11.9.1382) (Cancer o the second factor of people’s death in the world)

This study focused on the tense and aspect forms, which were used in the English and Persian headlines to examine their similarities and differences in these respects.

3.2.2.2.2. Voice

Voice is the form of the verb, which shows the relation between the action and its subject. In English and Persian there are two voices: the active and the passive. If the subject performs the action, then the verb form is in the active voice. If the subject receives the action, then the verb form is in passive voice (Fallahi 1991; Nobahar 1995).

Solich o Fired As Nebraska Football Coach (30.11.2003) 7 kargaer xareji daer japon robodeh shodaend (8.9.1382) (7 foreign workers were kidnapped in Japan.)

Voice was considered in this study to examine the frequency of its occurrence in the headlines of the two languages.

3.2.2.2.3. Dynamic and static verbs

According to their lexical meanings, verbs can be divided into dynamic and static verbs. A type of verb which typically occurs in the progressive form and in the imperative, and which expresses such meaning as activity, process, and bodily sensation is referred to as a dynamic verb (Natel Khanlari 1979; Quirk et al. 1985).

Motorist Registers During Traffic Stop (5.12. 2003) Pirozi, saypa ra maeqlob kaerd (9.9.1382) (Pirozi defeated Saypa.)

A contrast is drawn with static verbs (also called stative or state verbs), which do not usually occur in the progressive nor in the imperative, and which express a state of affairs rather than an action (Natel Khanlari 1979; Quirk et al. 1985).

Decision Is Harmful (5.12.2003) Takestor daer daerman saeraetan sineh moaeser aest (13.9.1382) (Takestor is effective in the treatment of the breast cancer.)

3.2.2.3. Deletions in the headlines

Omission is one of the major features of newspaper headlines (Baddock 1988; Bell 1991; Reah 1998; Tahririan 1995). Turner (1972: 72) says: “Determiners and the verb ‘to be’ are almost universally omitted in headlines”. For the sake of brevity and saving space, most closed words and some open words in headlines are often omitted or reduced to a minimum in headlines.

Grocers, Union Talks o Set to Resume (30.11.2003) Yaezd dovomin shaehr jaehan aez naezaer baft tarixi o (8.9.1382) (Yazd o the 2nd historical city in the world.)

As can be seen from the above examples, the verb “are” in the English headline and “aest” in the Persian one were omitted.

In the sample headlines an investigation was made in order to find out the frequency of omission of words across and within the two languages.

3.2.2.4. Word syllables of headlines

In headlines, monosyllabic verbs and nouns are used frequently as substitutes for longer, more colloquial expressions. For example: win for victory, ex for former, job for appointment, o.k. for accept. The analysis of nouns and verbs according to their syllables in the English and Persian corpora was done in order to investigate their similarities and differences in the two languages in this respect.

1. Bush Names Baker As Envoy on Iraqi Debt (5.12.2003)

2. Sun Snub Eclipse (4.12.2003)

1. Aqaz saxt nirogah baerq xorasan (10.9.1382) (The building of the Energy department was started in Khorasan.)

2. Iran nayb qaehreman koshti asiya shod (10.9.1382) (Iran became the wrestling champion in the world.)

4. DATA ANALYSIS

The analysis of data was conducted in two stages. In both stages, a detailed description of the headlines at lexical and syntactic levels was done to see the similarities and differences between the two languages.

4.1. First level of analysis

A corpus of 792 English and 725 Persian headlines were analyzed lexically and syntactically in order to examine the features of the headlines in these domains.

The first level consisted of the analysis of the syntactic features of the headlines across and within the two languages. In the following sections, the results of the analysis are presented.

4.1.1. Syntactic features

As for the syntactic features, the following three major areas were studied in the headlines of the two languages: headline types, functional types, and complexity in the headlines.

4.1.1.1. Headline types

In order to get an overall picture of the structures of headlines, the English and Persian headlines were divided into three basic groups: verbal, nominal, and adverbial headlines. The frequency of the different types of headlines is shown in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1 shows that the proportion of verbal headlines was considerably higher in the English headlines (94.82%) than in the Persian ones (24.27%). As can be noticed in Table 4.1, there were only 4 adverbial headlines in the corpus, all of which occurred in the English headlines.

4.1.1.1.1. Verbal headlines

Five main structural types of verbal headlines were distinguished in the English and Persian sample headlines which are shown in Table 4.2.

As can be noticed in Table 4.2, the large majority of headlines were finite in the English headlines (74.34%) and in the Persian ones (81.25%).

4.1.1.1.2. Nominal headlines

Considering the information presented in Table 1, the English and Persian headlines were significantly different in the case of nominal headlines. 75.73% of the headlines in Persian and 4.67% of those in English were nominal headlines.

Nominal headlines in the English and Persian sample headlines were analyzed in terms of unmodification, premodification, postmodification and pre [+] post modification.

The frequency of different types of nominal headlines in the sample headlines are shown in Table 4.3.

Table 4.3 shows that most nominal headlines in the English sample were premodified (48.21%), while postmodification was high in the Persian corpus (98.80%). Unmodified nominal headlines were comparatively few. They were, however, more found in the English nominal headlines (21.42%) than in those of Persian (0.11%).

The different types of premodifiers and postmodifiers and their distribution will be presented in the following sections.

4.1.1.1.2.1. Premodified nominal headlines

Two types of items may precede the head in the English premodified nominal headlines: closed system and open class premodifiers. The closed system premodifiers can not be extended by the creation of additional members. The set of open class premodifiers is extendable, i.e. new items may be added to the class (Jucker 1992; Quirk et al., 1985).

Open class premodifiers preceded the head of the noun phrase in the English and Persian nominal headlines as Table 4.4 shows. As shown in Table 4.4, adjectives were the most common type of premodifying items in both English (56%) and Persian (100%) headlines. The other items which were preceded the noun phrase head of the English headlines were common nouns (44%), nouns with genitive s (4%) and nouns with plural s (4%).

4.1.1.1.2.2. Postmodified nominal headlines

As indicated by Table 4.3, the Persian corpus had a high number of postmodification in nominal headlines (98.80%) compared with the English ones (28.58%).

Different kinds of postmodifications in the nominal headlines of English are presented in Table 4.5.

As appears from Table 4.5, prepositional modification was by far the most frequent type of postmodification in the English nominal headlines.

In the following Table, the frequency of different kinds of postmodifiers in the Persian headlines is given.

Table 4.6 shows the different kinds of postmodifiers that occurred in the Persian nominal headlines such as adverbial phrases (11.42%), nouns (63.63%), prepositional phrases (7.92%) and adjectives (17.03%).

4.1.1.2. Headline types by function

Headlines can be divided into four functional types: statements, questions, commands and exclamations. The distribution of the functional headline types is shown in Table 4.7.

As shown in Table 4.7, exclamations, commands and questions were rare in both samples, where they constituted a part of only 1.5% in the English sample headlines and 0.42% in the Persian ones. As it can be seen from the above Table, statements were the largest in number of the functional headline types: no less than 98.48% of the headlines in English sample headlines and 99.58% of those in Persian corpus.

4.1.1.3. Complexity in headlines

Headlines can be classified in terms of simple, complex and compound sentences. The frequency of the headlines in terms of their structure is given in Table 4.8.

According to Table 4.8, in the English and Persian corpora simple headlines outnumbered any of the compounds and complex ones.

4.1.1.3.1. Headlines with more than one free structure

In headlines with more than one free structure, verbal, nominal, or adverbial structures may occur together.

The following Table (4.9) shows the occurrence of headlines with more than one free structure in the English and Persian corpora. In both samples, a high number of nominal + verbal structures can be seen, 76.27% in the English headlines and 72.72% in the Persian ones. The results obtained from the Table 4.27 indicate that the Persian headlines had 27.28% nominal + nominal headlines and the English ones had 3.39%.

4.1.1.3.1.1. Edited and unedited quotations

Headlines with more than one free structure may be divided into two subtypes: edited quotation and unedited quotation headlines.

The following Table shows the distribution of edited and unedited quotations in the English and Persian corpora.

Table 4.10 reveals that unedited quotation headlines were more frequent in both English (66.11%) and Persian headlines (72.72%).

4.1.1.4. Verb phrases in headline structures

In terms of the structure of the verb phrase, headlines divided into finite clauses, non-finite clauses, and verbless clauses. Table 4.11, shows the percentage of these three clauses in the English and Persian corpora.

Table 4.11 shows that finite clauses were frequently used in the English headlines, numbering 549 and occupying 69.32%. Non-finite clauses and verbless clauses occurred 21.85% and 8.83% respectively in the English corpus. In the Persian headlines, the use of verbless clauses (79.44%) was favored much more than the other two.

4.1.1.5. Headline length

The length of the headlines was calculated in terms of the average number of words per headlines.

The figures obtained were about 7 and 5 words for the English and Persian headlines respectively.

4.2. Second level of analysis

The second level of the analysis consisted of the lexical features of the headlines across and within the two languages.

4.2.1. Lexical features

The analysis of lexical features of headlines was carried out in three levels whose results are presented and tabulated in the following sections.

4.2.1.1. Parts of speech in sample headlines

Words are classified into ten parts of speech as follows: noun, verb, article, adjective, adverb, numeral, article, conjunction, pronoun, and preposition.

In order to have a clear picture of words used in headlines, the researcher made an investigation of the frequency of different parts of speech in the sample headlines the results of which are shown in Table 4.13.

From among the aforementioned parts of speech used in headlines, nouns and verbs are dealt with in the following sections.

4.2.1.1.1. Nouns

Nouns are one of the most important parts of speech (Lock 1996). This has been confirmed by the information given in Table 4.13. As the table indicates, the frequency of nouns prominently outnumbered that of any other parts of speech, 53.97% in the English sample headlines and 65.12% in the Persian ones. Because of the importance of nouns in headlines, an analysis was done to examine such features as common and proper nouns. In Table 4.14, the frequency of distinct features of nouns in the sample headlines is given.

As can be seen in Table 4.14, abbreviations and acronyms seem to be more in the English sample headlines, about 3.82% and 4.09% respectively but not in the Persian corpus.

4.2.1.1.2. Verbs

Because of the importance of verbs in headlines, an investigation was done on the frequency of the occurrence of verbs in the English and Persian corpora.

Table 4.16 shows that verbs occurred 16.45% and 3.39% in the English and Persian sample headlines respectively, which was the second biggest group of words used in the English headlines. So in this section, the features of the verbs used in headlines will be analyzed.

4.2.1.1.2.1. Dynamic and static verbs

What follows are the observed frequencies (Table 4.15) of these two kinds of verbs in both sample headlines.

From the Table 4.15, it is clear that there are many more dynamic verbs than static verbs in both English and Persian sample headlines. In the sample headlines 95.35% in the English and 67.83% in the Persian corpus were dynamic verbs while static verbs occurred 4.65% and 32.17% in the two samples respectively.

4.2.1.1.2.2. Tense and aspect forms

Different kinds of tense and aspect forms were investigated in the corpora. What follows is the output of this analysis. Comparing the English and Persian headlines as to the proportion of tense forms, the English headlines had a higher proportion of present tense (79.61%) than the Persian ones (29.42%) while past was more frequent in the Persian sample (53.53%) than in the English (4.61%).

Besides tense, the aspects used in the headlines were analyzed. As can be seen, in both sample headlines, the non-progressive forms were far more frequent than the progressive forms. Only 22 instances of the progressive form -3.37% of the English verbal headlines- were found in the corpus.

Many headlines are unmarked for tense. As Table 4.16 indicates, unmarked tense forms occurred in both English (4.75%) and Persian (15.89%) headlines

4.2.1.1.2.3. Voice

The distribution of active and passive patterns in the English and Persian headlines is shown in Table 4.17.

As Table 4.17 shows, 86.84% of the verbal headlines in the English samples and 96.59% of those in the Persian ones were active constructions and about 13.16% and 3.41% in passive patterns in the English and Persian samples respectively.

4.2.1.1.2.4. Word syllables of headlines

What follows is the output of the analysis of nouns (Table 4.18) and verbs (Table 4.19) according to their syllables in the English and Persian corpora.

4.2.1.2.1. Omission of verb “be” Table 4.20 demonstrates the observed frequency of “be” omission in the sample headlines.

Information given in Table 4.20 indicates that the verb “be” as a linking verb and as an auxiliary verb was left out about 17.32% and 82.68% respectively in the English headlines. The linking verb which was omitted in the Persian headlines was the word “aest”, which was left out completely of total omissions of the verb “be.”

As a whole, 208 different types of the verb “be” were needed in the English headlines but there were only 29 cases in which they were used. It shows that about 86.05% of the verb “be” was omitted. In the Persian headlines, the tendency was to use the verb “aest” (63.02%).

4.2.1.2.2. Omission of “say”

The word “say” sometimes is omitted and replaced by colons in headlines (Baddock, 1988).

Table 4.23 displays the occurrence of the word “say” and also its omission in both sample headlines.

Table 4.23 demonstrates that the omission of the word “say” was preferred in both English (75.65%) and Persian (100%) headlines

5. CONCLUSION

Based on the results of the study, the most important quantitative similarities and differences between the English and Persian headlines were deduced as follows:

The headlines of the two languages were similar in the following areas:

1. Dominant use of nouns: The use of nouns prominently outnumbered that of any other parts of speech in both English (53.97%) and Persian (65.12%) headlines.

2. Preference for dynamic verbs: In the sample headlines 95.35% of verbs in the English and 67.83% of those in the Persian data were dynamic verbs.

3. Preference for the use of active voice: 86.84% of the verbal headlines in the English sample and 96.59% of those in the Persian one were active constructions.

4. Frequent omission of words: The verb “be” was omitted in both English (86.05%) and Persian (36.98%) headlines and also the omission of the word “say” was preferred in the English (75.65%) and Persian (100%) corpora.

5. Preference for short words: Mono syllabic nouns were used in both English (49.57%) and Persian (72.51%) headlines.

6. Dominance of declarative sentences: The use of statements was the largest in number of the functional headline types in both English (98.48%) and Persian (99.58%) headlines.

7. Expansion of simple sentences: 86.11% of the headlines in the English sample and 98.48% of those in the Persian corpus were simple sentences.

8. Preference for the use of unedited quotations: Unedited quotation headlines were frequent in both English (66.11%) and Persian headlines (72.72%).

9. Preference for finite clauses: Finite clauses were frequently used in the English headlines (74.34%) and the Persian ones (81.25%).

The headlines of the two languages were different in the following areas:

1. Acronyms and abbreviations were highly used in the English headlines but not in the Persian ones.

2. Tense in Persian headlines did not follow the English verb system. In general, the Persian headlines were not different from those of ordinary, non-headline language.

3. There were more present tense forms in the English headlines: 79.61% vs. 29.42% in the Persian ones, whereas past tense forms were more common in the Persian headlines (55.48%) than in the English ones (4.41%).

4. Frequent omissions of certain words such as omission of articles, “and”, “people/person”, “pronoun” and “that” were major features of English headlines.

5. In the English corpus the use of monosyllabic verbs (68.93%) was preferred by the reporters, whereas in the Persian sample headlines, the use of compound verbs was more than the simple ones (50.37% and 49.63% respectively).

6. Verbal headlines were more frequently used in the English sample headlines (94.82%) than in the Persian ones (23.44%). English and Persian headlines were significantly different in the case of nominal headlines (4.67% and 76.56% respectively). The placement of verbs by nominalization was characteristic of the Persian headlines.

7. In a comparison between the English and Persian newspaper headlines, it appears that postmodified nominal headlines were almost four times more frequent in the Persian headlines (98.79%) than the English ones (28.58%), whereas premodified nominal headlines were more found in the English (48.21%) than in the Persian headlines (0.80%).

8. There were only 4 (0.51%) adverbial headlines in the English sample headlines but none in Persian ones.

9. Exclamations and questions (0.13% and 0.89% respectively) occurred in headlines of English corpus but not in the Persian sample.

To sum up, it was concluded that the headlines of English and Persian languages were similar in using dynamic verbs, active voice, short words, declarative sentences, finite clauses, and simple sentences and different in the use of tense forms, headline types, modification, and omission of words.

5.1. Implications of the English and Persian headlines comparison The results of contrasting English and Persian headlines have pedagogical implications for teaching journalistic English and translation.

5.1.1. Implications for teaching journalistic English Teachers can benefit from the findings of the analysis of headlines in Persian and English. It can assist the teacher to be aware of the structural conflicts of the headlines of the two languages and, as a result, help his students get a better understanding of the language of headlines.

An EFL teacher of reading journalistic English with relevant contrastive information can be a better language teacher in a shorter period of time than a person without such information.

Knowledge of the syntactic and lexical features of headlines helps teachers to use them as a guide to their teaching. The teacher who is familiar with the similarities and differences between Persian and English headlines will know better what the real learning problems are and can better provide for teaching them.

5.1.2. Implications for teaching translation

Knowledge of the learners’ language and its differences and similarities with the second/foreign one is of practical teaching use in many ways, one of which is translation.

In order to translate the English headlines, EFL students should have a good command of headline features of both languages. As Lefevere (1992: 121) says, “the first rule for EFL translators is to know both languages well.”

By recognizing the lexical and syntactical features of the headlines and the differences of their distributions across Persian and English, the elements that may hinder the Iranians’ headlines comprehension can be determined. For instance, this study illuminated that the omissions of certain words can create hurdle for comprehending the English headlines. Knowledge of these difficulties can aid the students in understanding the language of headlines.

Contrasting English and Persian headlines can help learners become more conscious of the features of headlines in the two languages and avoid problems in the use of either, especially when they translate.

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F. KHODABANDEH

ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY

MOBARAKEH, ISFAHAN, IRAN.

E-MAIL:

&

M.H. TAHRIRIAN

PROFESSOR AND CHAIR

DEPT. OF ENGLISH

SHEIKHBAHAEE UNIVERSITY

ISFAHAN, IRAN

E-MAIL:

Table 4.1. Observed frequency of headline types in the English

and Persian corpora

English Persian

Type of

headline N % N %

Verbal 752 94.82 176 24.27

Nominal 36 4.67 549 75.73

Adverbial 4 0.51 0 0

Total 792 100 725 100

Table 4.2. The frequency of the verbal headline types in the

English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Type of verbal headlines N % N %

Finite 559 74.34 143 81.25

Non-finite 14 1.87 6 3.41

Omitted auxiliary 148 19.68 0 0

SCs 13 1.72 21 11.93

SA 18 2.39 6 3.41

Total 752 100 176 100

Table 4.3. Observed frequency of different types of nominal

headlines in the English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Type of nominal headlines N % N %

Unmodified 12 21.42 2 0.11

Premodified 27 48.21 14 0.79

Postmodified 16 28.58 1743 98.8

Pre[+]postmodified 1 1.79 5 0.28

Total 56 100 1764 100

Table 4.4. Observed frequency of premodifiers in the

English and Persian nominal headlines

English Persian

Type of open class

pre-modifier N % N %

Common noun 11 44 0 0

Proper noun 0 0 0 0

Noun with genitive s 1 4 0 0

Noun with plural s 1 4 0 0

Adjective 14 56 14 100

Total 25 100 14 100

Table 4.5. Observed frequency of postmodification in the

English nominal headlines

English

Type of postmodification N %

Restrictive relative clause 2 12.5

Prepositional phrase 12 75

Adverb 2 12.5

Total 16 100

Table 4.6. Observed frequency of postmodifiers in the

Persian nominal headlines

Persian

Type of postmodifiers in the

Persian headlines N %

Common noun 847 48.59

Proper noun 124 7.12 63.63

Noun with plural s 138 7.92

Adjective 297 17.03

Prepositional phrase 138 7.92

Adverb 199 11.42

Total 1743 100

Table 4.7. Observed frequency of functional headline types in the

English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Functional headline types N % N %

Statements 780 98.48 722 99.6

Questions 7 0.89 0 0

Commands 4 0.5 3 0.42

Exclamations 1 0.13 0 0

Total 792 100 725 100

Table 4.8. Frequency of sentences classified by structure in English

and Persian corpora

English Persian

Headlines classified by

structure N % N %

Simple 682 86.1 714 98.48

Complex 33 4.16 0 0

Compound 77 9.72 11 1.5

Total 792 100 725 100

Table 4.9. Observed frequency of free structures in the

English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Headlines with more than one

free structure N % N %

Verbal + verbal 0 0 0 0

Verbal + nominal 12 20.34 0 0

Nominal + nominal 2 3.39 3 27.28

Nominal + verbal 45 76.27 8 72.72

Total 59 100 11 100

Table 4.10. Frequency of edited and ‘unedited’ quotations

English Persian

Type of free structure

headline N % N %

Edited quotation 20 33.89 3 27.28

‘Unedited’ quotation 39 66.11 8 72.72

Total 59 100 11 100

Table 4.11. Frequency of clauses classified by structure of

verb phrase in the corpora

English Persian

Clauses classified by

structure of verb phrase N % N %

Finite 549 69.31 143 19.73

Non-finite 172 21.72 6 0.83

Verbless 71 8.97 576 79.44

Total 792 100 725 100

Table 4.12. Average length of a headline in terms of

number of words

English Persian

Length of words in headlines N Mean N Mean

Number of the whole words 5231 7.17 4146 5.71

Number of headlines 729 725

Table 4.13. Frequency of different parts of speech in English

and Persian headlines

English Persian

Parts of speech N % N %

Adverb 41 0.8 4 0.09

Adjective 541 10.59 604 14.34

Article 63 1.25 34 0.8

Conjunction 83 1.64 82 1.93

Modal 58 1.15 1 0.02

Noun 2758 53.97 2740 65.12

Numeral 118 2.3 111 2.62

Preposition 569 11.15 480 11.4

Pronoun 41 0.8 8 0.19

Verb 840 16.45 143 3.39

Total 5112 100 4207 100

Table 4.14. Frequency of nouns in the English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Nouns N % N %

Abbreviation 105 3.82 0 0

Acronym 113 4.09 0 0

Proper noun 441 15.99 647 23.62

Common noun 2099 76.10 2093 76.38

Total 2758 100 2740 100

Table 4.15. Frequency of dynamic and static verbs in the English

and Persian sample headlines

English Persian

Verbs N % N %

Dynamic 801 95.35 97 67.83

Static 39 4.65 46 32.17

Total 840 100 143 100

Table 4.16. The distribution of tense and aspect forms in the

English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Tense forms N % N %

Present 519 79.61 50 29.42

Past 30 4.61 91 53.53

Unmarked (SCs + SAs) 31 4.75 27 15.89

Future 50 7.66 1 0.58

Present progressive 22 3.37 0 0

Present perfect 0 0 1 0.58

Total 652 100 170 100

English Persian

Voice N % N %

Active 653 86.84 170 96.59

Passive 99 13.16 6 3.41

Total 752 100 176 100

Table 4.18. Observed frequency of nouns with different syllables

in the English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Nouns with different

syllables N % N %

Mono syllabic noun 1367 49.57 1987 72.51

Bisyllabic noun 1013 36.73 753 27.48

Polysyllabic noun 378 13.70 0 0

Total 2758 100 2740 100

Table 4.19. Observed frequency of verbs with different syllables

in the English and Persian corpora

English Persian

Verbs with different

syllables N % N %

Mono syllabic verb 579 68.91 71 49.63

Bisyllabic verb 230 27.39 72 50.37

Polysyllabic verb 31 3.70 0 0

Total 840 100 143 100

Table 4.20. The frequency of the omission of verb ‘be’ in the

corpora

English Persian

Omission of verb ‘be’ N % N %

‘be’ as a linking verb 31 17.32 aest 27 100

‘be’ as an auxiliary verb 148 82.68 0 0 0

Total 179 100 27 100

Table 4. 21. The frequency of verb ‘be’ in the English headlines

English

Frequency of

Frequency of the usage of

verb “be” Needed appear omitted “be” “be”

“be” 208 29 86.05 13.95

Table 4. 22. The frequency of verb ‘aest’ in the Persian headlines

Persian

Frequency of

verb Frequency of the usage of

“aest” Needed appear omitted “aest” “aest”

“aest” 73 46 36.98 63.02

Table 4.23. Observed frequency of the usage and omission of “say”

in the corpora

English Persian

Usage and omission of

“say” N % N %

Usage of “say” 19 24.35 0 0

Use of colon 55 70.52 11 100

Use of dash 4 5.13 0 0

Total 78 100 11 100

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