Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reports on China's Bullet-Train Crash

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reports on China's Bullet-Train Crash

Article excerpt


The purpose of critical discourse analysis is to study the relationship between language and the ideology embedded in the text of the dialectical aspect. Critical discourse analysis is an emerging method of discourse analysis, which assimilates the results of multi-disciplinary scientific research in linguistics, psychology, sociology, media studies and so on. It attaches importance to all the non- literary discourses, but it takes news discourses as its main research object. Based on Halliday's three metafunctions, critical discourse analysis in this thesis is done on the basis of news reports about "China's bullet-train crash" collected from Western media. Fairclough's three-dimensional model is adopted in the analysis, including description, interpretation and explanation. The aims of the thesis are to reveal how the Western media construct China's image by using the different linguistic tools, explore the relationship between this constructing mode and big social cultural context, and thus unhidden the ideology embedded behind the social news reports.

Key words: Critical discourse analysis; China's bullet-train crash; Ideology; Three-dimensional model; Western media


In the field of critical discourse analysis (CDA), language is regarded as a form of ideology and linguistic activity is considered as a social practice. Traditionally, linguists only study from academic or theoretical aspect, whereas critical linguists research from a different perspective in order to reveal the relationship between language, power and ideology.

Nowadays, getting news through various media, people believe that news discourse is the faithful recordings of what has happened and they think that journalists always provide them with value-free and unbiased information. However, that is not always the case. It is significant to analyze news through critical discourse analysis. Our thesis is to analyze the news reports on China's Bullettrain Crash in Wenzhou on July 23, 2011 from The Associated Press (AP) and Reuters. Aiming to reveal the tendency of ideology hidden behind reports, we employ the established framework and a series of analytical devices.


1.1 Development of CDA

The development of CDA theory can be divided into 4stages. The first stage is from 1976 to 1979. It is in 1979 that Language and Control were publicized by Roger Fowler, Gunther Kress and Tony Trew from the University of East Anglia, which gave birth to the concept of CDA. Then this theory experienced its stagnation period between 1979 and 1985 without any works written on it. Later Kress' Discourses, Texts, Readers and the Pro-nuclear Arguments (1985) and Fowler's Linguistic Criticism (1986) as well as Notes on Critical Linguistics (1987) signify the self-reflection period. From 1988to the present day, the theory blooms in the new stage. Many representatives come to the stage, e.g. Norman Fairclough, Ruth Wodak, Van Dijk, Wetherell ,Kress and T. van Leeuwen.

1.2 Approaches to CDA

Norman Fairclough (1989) puts forward the social scientific theories supporting CDA. He insists that language is the primary domain of ideology and has always been the stake in struggles of power. Ruth Wodak works on CDA and he is using the discoursehistorical approach and focused on the historical resources and attempts. Van Dijk is known as a researcher of CDA employing the socio-cognitive approach


2.1 Three-Dimensional Model

In 1995, Fairclough constructs a revised version of his former model in a book entitled Discourse and Social Change, as is illustrated below:

The revised model is consisted of three dimensions. The first dimension is description (text analysis) or discourse-as-text. The second dimension is interpretation (processing analysis) or discourse-as-discursive-practice. The third dimension is explanation (social analysis) or discourse-as-socialcultural-practice. …

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