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The Language Variety of Newspapers

Language, Newspapers, Language variety, Stylistics, Reporting




Every newspaper and magazine has its own definite style. The language of reporting may vary but some qualities are manifested in all of them. These features are important because they ensure communication across all target groups. They enhance readability and comprehension for successful dissemination of information. The language of newspaper reporting must also be attractive to the readers. The following is an analysis of a sample report that falls in this category.

In persuit of a perfected analysis, i drew the following features from a newspaper page reporting on crime which could not accompany this paper. The reader is therefore adviced to make use of a newspaper page with pictures and attempt to cross check the presence of the discussed distinctive features of a newspaper variety.


At this level we examine the actual substance or raw material of language. Writing manifests as marks on a surface. In the attached article, the stylisticians found the following significant features:

a) The title:

- written in big capital letters, bold and in black. This catches the attention of the reader. There are several titles, there is title one ‘CRIME’ and title two ‘Registration racket alarms vehicle owners, authorities.’

b) The name of the author

It is written in bold and in the same size and this is for authenticity. The first word of the first paragraph is in capital, bold letter and this is for readability.

c) Pictures.

The topic is about crime (registration racket) there are three things to prove this:
a) Two vehicles with the same number plate KAQ 089G
b) The picture of the head of the Flying Squad Police Unit ‘Mr. Musa Yego’
c) A picture of the register of motor vehicles ‘Mr. Simeon Ole Kirgotty ‘
The pictures have been used to emphasize the theme.

d) Font Size.

There are different font sizes applied and each creates a different impact.

The main title ‘Crime’ is written in small fonts as compared to the subtitle ‘Registration racket alarms vehicle owners, authorities’. The reason is to attract readers attention since the crime under discussion is registration racket.

The third title has different font sizes from the first and the second titles. It is an introduction title that gives a summary of the whole story. It provides a clue to the reader without reading the whole article.

The reporter’s name ‘By Fred Mukinda’ has a larger font compared to the main paragraphs. This enhances readability of the article.
The first paragraph has been introduced by an indented letter ‘G’ to indicate the beginning of the main body.
The number 100,000 is written in larger font to introduce a new chapter and for readability. The amount of money is the Kenyan shillings that one needs to buy a fake logbook.’ Fake logbooks’ has a larger font and introduces a new chapter. The warning below the article ‘before buying a vehicle challenges the seller to pose for a photograph with’ has a different font size to warn buyers from becoming victims. The words ‘black market’ is written in large font to indicate a new chapter.

e) Bold

The following sections of the article have been written in bold:
The main title ‘Crime’
The subtitle ‘Registration racket alarms vehicle owners, authorities ‘
The reporter’s name ‘Fred Mukinda’
The indented ‘G’
Figure ‘100,000’ with its accompanying words ‘The amount of money in Kenyan Shillings that one needs to buy a fake logbook’.
The number plates’KAQ 089 G’
The words below the inset picture ‘Head of the Flying Squad police Musa Yego inspects two vehicles with similar registration numbers at Pangani police station in Nairobi last week. Inset: Registrar of Motor Vehicles Simeon ole Kirgotty.’
‘Black market.’
The warning in its own column ‘before buying a vehicle challenge the seller to pose for a photograph with you.’
The reasons for writing letters in bold are:
For readability.
So as to capture the reader’s attention.
Aesthetic appeal.
To make it stand out from the rest.
For emphasis.
To make an introduction of a new chapter.
To differentiate titles.

f) Use of capital letters.

The following sentences, phrases and words have been written in capital letters in the article:

The title ‘Crime’.
The beginning of the second title ‘Registration racket alarms vehicle owners, authorities.’
Beginning of the third title ‘Flying Squad links the incidents to a complex and delicate tax-evasion syndicate’.
The name of the repoter’Fred Mukinda.
The indented letter ‘G’.
Beginning of every paragraph.
Name of proper nouns example Kenya, October, Nairobi, Umoja.
All initials used in the article like KRA.
Acronyms used chapter two paragraph two ‘Kara’ has been written to represent ‘Kenya Auto Bazaar Association.’
The number plates recorded in the article ‘KAQ 089G’
Introductory letter of ‘Fake logbooks’
The beginning of all sentences.
Reasons for using capitalization are as follows:
For grammaticality.
To catch readers’ attention.
To mark the beginning of the sentences and paragraphs.

g) Color

Different colours have been used in the article. To begin with, the title ‘Crime’ has been written in the colour red. This is to show the gravity and danger of crime in the society. The letter ‘G’ used at the beginning of the article has also been written in red and this is simply for aesthetics.
The number ‘100.000’ has also been written in red and this is to emphasis the amount used. The rest of the article is written in black on a white surface and this is for ease of readability.

h) Spacing.

There are different kinds of spacing used in the writing of the text: Spacing between words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters. The main reasons for this are:
Ease readability.
Aesthetic value.
There are small spaces left between paragraphs to reduce the cost of publication.

i) Numerals.

Figures or numerals have been used to indicate words for instance:
The subtitle ‘100,000’
In the first paragraph there is the number ‘2004’.
Chapter two paragraph one, ‘500’ paragraph two has’2,000’ and in chapter three the number ‘24’ is written.
Chapter three paragraph three has ‘500’
Chapter four paragraph one ‘1,221’ paragraph two has ‘10,000’

Numerals in the article have been used for easy memory that is to enable the readers to retain the information in their memory and also to reduce printing space so as to cut down on publication costs.

j) Abbreviations.

These have been used to reduce the space taken up by typing the whole word. These abbreviations have been used in the article: KABA, KRA, Rtd. and Mr.

k) Underlining,

Some sentences have been underlined for example the warning:’before buying a vehicle, challenge the seller to pose for a photograph with you.’ This has been underlined so as to emphasis the meaning and to show the importance of every word used.


Inter-sentential relationships

The punctuations commonly used in newspaper reports are:

In paragraphs six and eight there is the use of parenthesis to give meaning of preceding words or give extra information for clarity. Other that that, they also enhance readability by introducing pauses.
The use of full stops in all the sentences because the information is in the form of statements. The article aims at giving facts only.

Hyphens have also been used for instance in paragraph two and four’…the matatus operated on the Isiolo- Meru route …’ this is necessary to make the text easier to read and it uses less space.

Brackets in paragraph six and fourteen’ (Kaba)’, ‘(Rtd.) give additional information or give the alternative word/name to ensure all readers understand clearly and that there are no misunderstandings.

Quotation marks in paragraph twelve and nineteen. They have been used to give the actual utterances as made by the people mentioned. This ensures no one is misquoted and thee paper is not accused of defamation. The use of quotation marks also gives the article credibility in the eyes of readers. Due to ensured validity of the information passed, the readers associate with the story.

Sentence Typology.

All three types of sentences that is, simple, complex and compound sentences are in use in the article... Most of these sentences are log and form entire paragraphs. They are typically statements since the article is presenting facts.

Clause Typology.

-ing clauses are common for example in paragraph three:’ Fearing his vehicle would be impounded’.

There is also a great use off reporting clauses like in paragraph nineteen ‘he said’. This is used to make the article more authentic and to quote what was said. This is done to avoid any misquotations.

Group Typology.

There occurs frequent use of pre-modification in the language of reporting. In this article, this is widened by the use of ‘brand- new vehicles’ in paragraph eleven ‘complex tax evasion syndicate’. In paragraph six,’ the Pangani police station-based Flying Squad Unit’. In paragraph four, ‘Illegal motor vehicle trade’. This use of pre-modification is done with the intention of being adequately descriptive while keeping in mind the economy of space aspect in print media.

Premodification in this case also aids comprehension and readability of the article as it is a simple way of describing and distinguishing a given noun. It is a simple and accurate way of defining words. There is also the frequent use of simple structures in the verb group. The verb groups in the article consist mostly of one lexical verb for instance,’ bought’, in paragraph one, ‘operated’ in paragraph two
The verbal groups contain an auxiliary as evidenced in the verb group ‘was informed’ in paragraph three,’ have also noted’ in paragraph nine.

The simple verbal group structures enable easier comprehension as they are not complicated.

The verbs also mostly written in the better known tenses: past, present and future tense to enable easier comprehension.

Word Typology.

There is frequent use of compound words in the language of the press as they are familiar. This is widened by words such as’ loop-holes ‘ in paragraph ten,’ highlighting’ in paragraph five, ‘crack-downs ‘ I paragraph fourteen, ‘ short-coming’ in paragraph fifteen,’ underground’ in paragraph eighteen. Their familiarity enhances the readability
And comprehension of the article


At the graphological level, the stylisticians are interested in the study of the writing system of a language.
There is irregular punctuation, there is an absence of commas, and this is to allow free flow of information. The writer does not want the reader to keep breaking; he or she delivers in full. There is regular spacing in the main article according to the font size. Where the font is large, the space is bigger as compared to the small fonts.
Thee is the use of parenthesis, a lot of dashes have been used. This is to ensure that a lot of information is passed in a small space as possible, since the information in the parenthesis does not affect the sentence grammatically, whether it is there or not.


1) Dialects

In this article, words like ‘mutate’, ‘Kenya’, ‘Meru’, Isiolo’, Coast’, ‘Western’,’ Pangani’ have bee n used. The presence of these words show and proves that the English used is Kenyan-English They indicates that the region the article was written in is Kenya.

2) Province.

This particular text may be categorized as one written in the language of the press because of the way it adheres to matters of economy of space and simplicity of language. This article fits in the the capacity required by space and time available in the print media. In this case this news item has been given a lot of space due to its relative prominence as crime is a weighty issue in any newspaper. The issue of space in the language of the press, usually confines the writer to contain the essential facts in the prescribed space and the news item does not become stale and it has maximum impact on the reader.

3) Modality.

The user of this particular variety of language, the language of the press chooses to communicate this language in the form of a news report in the print media because print media would allow the inclusion of details of the story, quotes, pictures and more flexible in the consumption of the text as compared to news in the electronic media.

This new report, characteristic of the language of the press contains feature such as simple direct language, simple use of punctuation, short paragraphs, familiar tenses, active verbs and short sentences, all of which enhance readability and improve the comprehension of the article.
Published: 2009-02-14
Author: Aggrey Nzomo

About the author or the publisher
I am a graduate of Moi university kenya in Linguistics and Foreing languages. I am aged twenty two and a good narrative and descriptive writer. i currently write with an online company the i have with me finished poems and short stories. i also write sex episodes and i have four episodes so far. i am a single male of an African origin.

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