A Corpus Stylistics News Story Analysis of a Japan-China Faceoff

Professor Barry Natusch and Professor Beryl Hawkins give an in-depth analysis of the Japan-China, Senkaku / Diaoyou territorial dispute at The Asian Conference on Media and Mass Communication 2014.

News coverage of the Japan-China territorial confrontation (Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands) reveals marked differences in the way the two countries present their claims. Their study explores this issue by showing that Japanese descriptions of the argument are more neutrally presented, through restrained and hedged lexical choices without metaphorical allusions, resulting in a rational, somewhat abstract, and arguably weaker case being put forward. Chinese descriptions tend to be more hawkish in their choice of aggressive lexis and employ forceful metaphors resulting in a more emotive presentation of the issue. Japanese concerns about Chinese representations of the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue being more vivid are supported by the results of this study, but a less inflammatory, more reasoned approach, as followed by the Japanese news agencies, also has its merits. The research question, drawing on a corpus of Japanese and Chinese news agency articles, such as those written by Kyodo and Xinhua, and other press articles was, “Do Japanese and Chinese news stories differ stylistically in their coverage of the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute?” To examine this question, news agency articles written in English were collected using LexisNexis. Following the approach to analyzing journalism stylistics of Broersma (2010) and corpus stylistics principles of Mahlberg (2012), analysis of English language news stories targeted at an international readership was carried out focusing on tagged lexical and metaphorical items. Discussion is scaffolded using the stylistic concepts of foregrounding and deviance (Leech, 2008). The study advances the case for using corpus stylistics to parse journalistic texts.


Professor Beryl Hawkins & Professor Barry Natusch

Beryl Hawkins is an adjunct professor in the Communications Department at Temple University Japan and also lectures at Waseda University and Nihon University, where she teaches journalism, media and cultural theories. Previously she has worked as a radio journalist, talk show host, and producer for NBC’s radio station in Washington D.C. As a media strategist in New York City, she developed national media campaigns, press events and advertising campaigns through her public relations career, working with national leaders and cultural and advocacy groups. Her research interests and publications include international news coverage of Asian affairs, stylistic analysis of media stories, performance and cultural theories.

Barry Natusch is a professor at the College of Economics, Nihon University in Tokyo, who specializes in international relations, economics and sociolinguistics. He has taught linguistics at universities and now teaches undergraduate and graduate seminars in communication theory, management theory, language learning theory, and technology enhanced language learning. His publications relate to news analysis of economics and political stories, language used in films, lexicography, translation, visual media, sociolinguistics, stylistic analysis, museology, and language in technology. His current interests also lie in documentary filmmaking, particularly in stories of people who make contributions to international negotiations, the environment, technology and the arts.

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