Thematic progression and rhetoric in Sun and Times editorials: 1991-2008

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Title: Thematic progression and rhetoric in Sun and Times editorials: 1991-2008
Author: Hawes, Thomas
Abstract: Key in the rhetorical strategy of any text is the way information and comment are organised through thematisation - the structuring of a clause into two parts, theme and rheme, or ‘given’ and ‘new’ information, respectively. What moves a text forward is thematic progression, by which the theme and/or rheme of a clause link up to those of other clauses. Prague linguist Daneš (1974) posits three types: constant, simple linear, and derived. Thematic progression can contribute to the generation of a systematised viewpoint and is potentially a powerful aid in ideological dissemination. Newspapers are probably still the most read text types today, in hard copy or online. In Britain two stand out particularly in terms of their presumed influence. The Sun, a tabloid, is the country’s best-selling daily, while The Times, a ‘quality’ ex-broadsheet, is favoured by the social elite. This article examines the development of thematic progression in The Sun and The Times from 1991 to 2008. It offers tentative conclusions as to the rhetorical strategies behind the changing progression choices. Since by 2008 a good proportion of the data cannot be accounted for by Daneš’ types, new progression categories are proposed: C Type underlines the fact that lexical repetition can function through empty ‘grammar’ words and can repeat several elements at once. C Gap provides a dynamism that is less obviously demagogic than constant and allows for alternation between referents. C Rheme progression achieves a foregrounding effect by placing ‘given’ material where the reader expects to find ‘new’.
Citation: Hawes, Thomas. (2010). "Thematic progression and rhetoric in Sun and Times editorials: 1991-2008."
Date: 2010-06-23

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