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Negatives and positives in the language of politics: Attitudes towards authority in the British and Chinese press

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An analytic model based on MAK Halliday's System of Transitivity provides a powerful tool for decoding a journalist's attitude to the events or individuals being written about. Chen (2005) showed how in the UK Times use of certain verbal processes rather than others to introduce direct or indirect speech could be an indicator that the journalist's attitude towards the person being quoted was either negative or positive.

In this study, using a model for the linguistic comparison of the British and Chinese press developed by Chen (2004), verbal process use in the UK Times and the English-language China Daily is contrasted for evidence of differences in the attitude of British and Chinese journalists towards political figures.

The evidence is clear. Times journalists frequently use 'negative' verbal processes which indicate doubt or scepticism towards the person being quoted. China Daily journalists, meanwhile, more often use 'positive' verbal processes which enhance the authority of the speaker.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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