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VDBE - English 2001-2002

---The secret language of newspaper headlines in Britain--Pre-reading: what would the articles under these headlines be about? JAIL MUM CAN KEEP HER BABY LEAD RISK IN CITY GROWN VEGETABLES BIN BABE RESCUED IN JAWS OF CRUSHER Being able to use a language, like English, fluently, implies understanding its words, the way they are pronounced and written, and the way they are ordered into meaningful units through grammar. But that is not all. You also have, what is generally referred to as "background knowledge", or "knowledge of the world". If you don't know a thing about cricket, you won't be able to understand a conversation or an article on that topic. The same lack of understanding may occur in discussions involving the House of Lords, the Commonwealth, snooker, BBC and other features of Britain's cultural traditions, which, as you may know, are very well preserved. Being able to understand the language of the news, implies not only being acquainted with British culture, but also with recent events. A headline like "FIRST FEMALE SUCCESSOR TO THE THRONE" will only make sense if you know who is meant here. (= ___________________________) And this is only the beginning! Grammar, vocabulary and spelling of headlines are determined by the special nature of a paper: a headline tries to inform the reader of what has just happened, of what is happening at the present moment, or of what will happen in the near future. And it tries to do so briefly, simply and attractively. Headlines often provide us with striking examples, because their aim is basically to attract the reader's attention. Generally, style and language of the headline, and indeed of the entire article will be influenced by the type of reader who it is intended for, but normally editors of both quality and popular papers prefer descriptive words in their hadlines,

VDBE - English 2001-2002

often with puns and other stylistic devices such as alliterations. But they should reach their aim in an economical way, without waste. So headlines often look like telegrams; structural elements have been omitted and semantic elements have been stressed. An article telling the reader that the President of the United States of America has promised the British Prime Minister to give his support to the defence of Great Britain, will be given a headline such as: US PRESIDENT PLEDGES SUPPORT TO BRITISH PM All the words that aren't really necessary to understand the message have been left out. Very often only nouns and verbs carry the meaning of the sentence. The remaining words will often be abbreviated to their initials (PM for Prime Minister) or shortened to more informal equivalents ("pledge" replaces "promise") Another device of leaving out irrelevant words is to form "noun chains", in which prepositions and articles have been omitted. They should be read in the reverse order, if you want to make them out: "The president of the United States of America" is turned into "U.S. President"; forecast of the weather will be "weather forecast". Obviously journalists also use simplified grammar. They adjust the rules for the use of the tenses in English, when they invent headlines. For recently completed actions, they use the simple present, instead of the present perfect. The headline: ENGLAND BEATS FRANCE: doesn't mean that the English team has the habit of beating the French every time they meet, but only that they succeeded in doing so this time. The present participle instead of the present continuous is used for present and immediate future actions: QUEEN LEAVING FOR JAPAN:

VDBE - English 2001-2002

Future actions are rendered by "to+infinitive", which is a shortened form of "be+to+infinitive". Parts of the verb "to be" are usually left out.

Reading exercise: skimming 1. Language = knowledge of: (1) ____________________________ (2) ____________________________ (3) ____________________________ (4) ____________________________ (5) ____________________________ 2. The language of the news = knowledge of the language + knowledge of ____________________________ 3. The language of newspaper headlines: 1) Headlines: aim at _____________________ are influenced by _____________________ 2) their language: a. vocabulary: d___________________________ st___________________________ headlines = ____________________________________________ structure words: ______________________________________ stress on n__________ and v_____________ absence of _____________________________ b. grammar: recently completed action: ___________________________________________ future action: ________________________________________________________ future intention: _____________________________________________________

Vocabulary-exercises

VDBE - English 2001-2002

Find words or expressions that mean the same as (the ex. is built up in the order of the text) * 1. to cause to be necessary, to require : 2. a subject 3. a shortage, an absence 5. characteristics * 6. to have met, to know * 7. the purpose 8. complete 9. the responsible person of a newspaper 10. an amusing use of a word or phrase : that has two meanings or of words with the same sound but different meanings 11. a trick 12. to drop 13. of meaning in language * 14. to promise 15. not very important 16. to understand with difficulty 17. clearly 18. to adapt : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

4. to have as a necessary part or result :

2. Use some of the previous words in the following sentences 1. "Is she sorry?" "___________________ not! Look at her mad behaviour. 2. Wet weather is a _____________________ of life in Scotland. 3. He made this _______________ : "Seven days without water make one weak." 4. In writing this report I have ___________________ all unnecessary details. 5. Rights _______________ duties. It's not enough to speak, you should also act! 6. The missile has a heat-seekign _________________ which enables it to find its target.

VDBE - English 2001-2002

7. The job ___________________ travelling abroad for three months each year. 8. The government _______________ to re-house the refugees. Will they keep their promise? 9. If he can do the job well, his age is not important. It's __________________. 10. I can't ___________________ how to use this new camera! It's really complicated.