Organizational and textual structuring of radio news discourse in English and Arabic.
The present work studies the overall structuring of radio news discourse via investigating three metatextual/interactive functions: (1) Discourse Organizing Elements (DOEs), (2) Attribution and (3) Sentential and Nominal Background Information (SBI & NBI). An extended corpus of about 73,000 words from BBC and Radio Damascus news is used to study DOEs and a restricted corpus of 38,000 words for Attribution and S & NBI. A situational approach is adopted to assess the influence of factors such as medium and audience on these functions and their frequence. It is found that: (1) DOEs are organizational and their frequency is determined by length of text; (2) Attribution Function in accordance with the editor's strategy and its frequency is audience sensitive; and (3) BI provides background information and is determined by audience and news topics. Secondly, the salient grammatical elements in DOEs are discourse deictic demonstratives, address pronouns and nouns referring to `the news'. Attribution is realized in reporting/reported clauses, and BI in a sentence, a clause or a nominal group. Thirdly, DOEs establish a hierarchy of (1) news, (2) summary/expansion and (3) item: including topic introduction and details. While Attribution is generally, and SBI solely, a function of detailing, NBI and proper names are generally a function of summary and topic introduction. Being primarily addressed to audience and referring metatextually, the functions investigated support Sinclair's interactive and autonomous planes of discourse. They also shed light on the part(s) of the linguistic system which realize the metatextual/interactive function. Strictly, `discourse structure' inevitably involves a rank-scale; but news discourse also shows a convention of item `listing'. Hence only within the boundary of variety (ultimately interpreted across language and in its situation) can textual functions and discourse structure be studied. Finally, interlingual variety study provides invaluable insights into a level of translation that goes beyond matching grammatical systems or situational factors, an interpretive level which has to be described in linguistic analysis of translation data.