Recounting political conflict: a cross-linguistic analysis of Ugandan hard-news reports

26 April 2016 -26 April 2016 @ 17:00 - 18:00


April 26, 2016
05:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Room 4, Department of English Language and Linguistics, Rhodes University
Event Type:


Ian Siebörger
046 603 7420

Most news discourse studies have been confined to the Anglo-American settings and other cultures and languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Spanish (Thomson et al, (2008) and Thomson & White, (2008)) yet journalistic practice has spread across many indigenous languages and local cultures. Using appraisal theoretic principles (Martin & White, 2005) and genre analysis (Bhatia, 1993, 2004), this study explores hard-news reporting in Uganda. It examines the generic properties of hard-news reports and the nature of linguistic resources that news writers invoke to recount power struggle. The discourse analysis involves a cross-linguistic analysis of news reports drawn from English and Runyankore-Rukiga newspapers. The study examines the lexico-grammatical properties of evaluative language employed across these languages. It also explicates the nature of evaluative language that both government and independent news writers invoke to communicate issues of power struggle, thus revealing their stance. While the independent papers engage explicit and invoked inscriptions to assess the behaviour of news actors (particularly the police, army and government/political leaders), the government-leaning papers evaluate the news actors’ social esteem and sanction in positive terms or avoid mentioning events in which their conduct would have been depicted negatively. The study demonstrates use of metaphors among Runyankore-Rukiga news reports especially in the nucleus; these metaphors amplify meanings and at times signal authorial stance. It also reveals a distinct rhetorical structure that characterises a ‘Ugandan hard-news report’, and deviates from the Anglo-American satellite structure of a hard-news story proposed by White (1997). In particular, an observable sequential pattern (not necessarily time-ordered) of recounting events is identified. To this end, the study demonstrates that journalistic practice in the Ugandan print media appears to be moving away from the traditional structure and norms of an Anglo-American hard-news report.

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