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UNIT XIII. Newspaper Style.

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  5. Grammatical peculiarities of translating newspaper articles
  7. Rendering newspaper headlines


If you want to be practically - politically, internationally, scientifically, socially, wordly - minded (aware) person you listen to TV or radio broadcast or read a fresh newspaper every day. Mass media are designed for mass consumption, that’s why grammatical, lexical, phraseological means of all styles interact in its language. Nowadays when the info flow becomes greater, and the development of international relations is ever increasing, the newspaper has gained much in covering topics of the day, burning political issues, world problems of peace and struggle, war and détente, and arms race. The primary function of newspaper style is to give information on various issues of political, economic, cultural life in and out the country. Thus, it carries brief news items, news flashes, scoops, communiqués, adds, announcements, articles and press reports (government reports, reports of court proceedings), columns, leaders, boxed editorials, etc.

Newspaper style is one of the forms of the literary language characterized by definite communicative aims ( to persuade, suggest, impress, influence, let alone, inform) and its own definite system of language means.

The natural order of events is frequently disrupted in a newspapers narration. Sometimes facts are listed without descriptive details (especially in headlines). Though in quality newspapers expressive means are used: metaphors, allusions, the so called journalese (the style of language supposed to be characteristic of public journals, newspapers, or “penny-a-liner English”). Webster defines it more fully and exactly (though ironically): “English of a style featured by use of colloquialisms, superficiality of thought or reasoning, clever or sensational presentation of material, and evidences of haste in composition”. It holds true in popular newspapers (tabloids) writing: colloquial language, simple repetitions, playing something up or down…

Translators must know the points of similarity and divergence of language means in newspaper English and newspaper Russian. First and foremost, there are some structural peculiarities. Both languages are rich in some stereotyped word-combinations:

X reported / announced – Как сообщил Х

X said – Как заявил Х

According to X – Согласно заявлению /сообщению Х

It is reported from X – Из Х сообщают


to reach an agreement on, to come to power, a wave of riots, the present state of affairs, to get ahead, to push the idea, verbatim, to launch a campaign, to contribute to peace.

WORD ORDER. English newspaper reports often carry the source of information at the end of the utterance, while in Russian it is placed at the beginning of the sentence.

e. g. There will be a further development of trade between two countries, Reuter reports.

A bomb blast injured two people at the N hotel, the police said.

In English “SAY FIRST THINGS FIRST”, the source of information following. In Russian the sequence is inverted.

The syntactic structure of any English newspaper sentence is characterized by the direct word order: subject – predicate – object – adverb – modifier of place – adverbial modifier of time.

e.g. A delegation of Russia arrived in Strasbourg yesterday. Вчера в …

In Russian any sense group can be stressed: ‘Вчера ’он ’пришел в ’5.

In English ↓He came at ↓5 yesterday. (orally)

It was he who came at 5 yesterday. (in writing)

Opposition to the country’s division comes from non-patriotic forces.

There has been growing press criticism of Juliani lately. They see the campaign against wages cuts and unemployment as part of urgent social reforms.

The use of attributive constructions:


World without bombs” conference, position of strength policy, emergence congress resolution, six-month jail sentence, blue chips investments, top-hat pension

Such attributive constructions may be found in all forms of English newspaper style and represent the most characteristic feature of modern English due to their compressed nature. When the attributive group is too long, the words are hyphenated or separated by the inverted commas.

e. g. The supporters of the join-at-all-costs movement failed to explain.

He was a say-what-you-want-and-go manager.

The translator should proceed from translating the key-word (the last word) and then pass over to considering the semantic and structural relationships of the words modifying the key-word.

Newspapers pack a lot of info into a short space. The noun phrases are expanding when introducing a person the story is about:

Mr. W. C., the former CIA head…

45 year old London policeman…

Handsome, smiling 45-year-old former London policeman, John Brown…

The same thing happens when the newspaper refers to the source of information:

Description Place Employer Status
Seniour British government spokesman
Official London hospital Surgeon
  Paris trade union representative

Opening sentences particularly highlight a lot of information to set a scene for what follows:

Opposition party spokesman who has been calling for government action to bring piped water into the centre of the town…

With Japan queuing up to supply new markets, could the Western Europe end up financing Japanese imports and absorbing most of Eastern Europe’s exports?

The battle against AIDS which, on the Third World front at least is currently being lost, may soon have a promising new weapon.

English headlines are short, expressive and catching:

Well-oiled beaches.

More boom than gloom in the market.

Making the best of Bess.

Compare headlines for similar events in 3 different papers:

Nine Swansea skydivers dead.

Swansea mourns air crash dead.

Sky-dive bride of 8 days.

Air hostess is widowed by crash.

The basic language peculiarities of headlines lie in their structure. Structurally headlines are very short sentences or phrases of a variety of patterns. English headlines are characterized by their verbal nature, in some of which the verb is omitted.

e. g. Father Christmas arrested.

Cairo talks recessed after disagreements.

Actions referring to the past are usually expressed by verbs in the present.

584 die in quake.

Seamen accept 10%.

Everest expedition fails.

Actions referring to the future are expressed by the infinitive.

e. g. Oil sites men to return.

TUC leaders to see PM.

More people to live at starving edge.

Russian headlines are more often characterized by nominative phrases:

Пиар от 1 лица.

Отстрел бизнесменов.

Электронная коммерция для всех.

Буш на отдыхе: в трудах и развлечениях.


Неправовое поле – всегда лимонное.

Россия и Нато – заклятые враги.

If the headline is represented by verbal construction, the verb may be used in the past, in the present and in the future.

Качают права те, кто качает нефть.

Что было бы, если бы не было…

Кто заказал Ивана Грозного?

Никогда не женюсь на артистке.

The translator should never translate the headline before the translation of the whole article. Its macrocontext will help the translator to grasp the meaning and message of the article and then to equivalently translate the headline.

In headlines articles and possessives are omitted. In newspaper articles do not overuse not (better ununwilling, ungrateful), Passive Voice, complicated participles.

e. g. instead having done this work - the work done.

Use There is, short questions and answers, use direct questions: Why? When? Really?

Leave out the words which, that whenever possible.

Use conversion: to summer in Spain; to garage a car; to gear to requirements. Use contractions, abbreviations, acronyms: hi-fi system, to opt for, sci-fi, and the so-called headline words: ban, bid, blast, boost, curb, drive, host, rep, riddle, dispute, seek, spark, squeeze, strike, switch, swoop, top, vow, weigh, link, man, ordeal, oust, net, yuppie, guppie, huppie, nimbie, nambie, quiz.

Journalism, especially in the English-speaking countries, often claims that news agency coverage should be absolutely impartial, it must respect objectivity of news presentation. In practice there are many subtle ways of indirectly implanting in the reader’s mind a certain opinion. (e.g. emotionally colored words, stylistic devices).

Canada is more tightly tied into the American economy.

There could scarcely be a less promising environment for children.

Back in business.

Russia has had many enemies to fight against.

Further reading and exercises:

1.В. Ланчиков, А. Чужакин «Мир Перевода – 6»

2.Translate the following sentences with conversion:

1) The goods have been tabled.

2) The test run of the locomotive was successful.

3) The then President of the US was Lincoln.

4) It’s mere nothing.

5) Don’t syrup water! Don’t water syrup!

6) He clerked at a small factory.

3.Translate the headings:

a) 1. Why Polar Expedition?

2.Anglo-French Drive in Egypt Halted.

3.Australia Adds to Fleet.

4.Norwegian Tug-Boat on Fire.

Crew Saved by Russian Sporting Yacht.

5.Lawyers Give Poor Free Legal Advice.

6.Juvenile Court to Try Shooters.

7.Milk Drinkers Are Turning to Powder.

8.Big Apple Goes Bananas.

9.Dick Digs Pig Pix.

10.California for GOP.

b) 1. Спутник Юпитера подобен гигантской лампе из лавы.

2.Путин восстанавливает в правах звезду советской эпохи.

3.Плата за спид.

4.Общественно-полезная работа американских учащихся.

5.Судебное разбирательство с компанией Микрософт.

6.Проблемы не решают, над ними поднимаются.

7.Почем агитация для народа?

8.Портативный компьютер: Есть ли необходимость в такой скорости?



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Читайте в этой же книге: Unit IV. The Problem of Translatability. Levels of Equivalence. | Unit V. Units of Translation. Word As a Basic Language Unit. Lexical and Grammatical Meanings. Conversion. | III. Word combinations: collocations, idioms, locutions, phraseological units. | Three Types of Lexical Meanings. | Grammatical Transformations: Transpositions and Replacements (Partitioning), Additions and Omissions (Integrating). | II.Replacements. | To raise / to pose a question to skirt questions | Phraseological unit is a stable word group (set-phrase) characterized by a completely or partially transferred meaning. | UNIT XI. Functional Styles. | Here are some examples of formal English. Where would you expect to see or hear them? |
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