A Pragmatic Study of CNN and BBC News Headlines Covering the Syrian Conflict

Fareed Hameed Al-Hindawi, Abid Hmood Ali


Lately, there has been a growing interest in media. As a result, many trends are found from both the academic and industrial points of view. News channels, for example, play an important role in transmitting news about political situations, military events and other issues to people all over the world. The language used in news reports or even in their headlines is very influential in attaining the communicative intent of such news reports. This language is characterized by various linguistic features. One aspect of those features is the pragmatic one. This latter issue has not been given its due attention in research study. Precisely, the use of speech acts as a basic component of pragmatics has not been sufficiently tackled in research work in this regard. Thus, the present study attempts to fill this gap and investigate the types of speech acts employed in CNN and BBC headlines that represent the Syrian conflict. Fifty-six headlines are selected from each of these news channels - 26 from CNN and 30 from BBC. This study purports that headlines can be loaded with the encoded pragmatic meanings which makes this study worth conducting to reveal those kinds of meanings. The selected period ranges from September 2015 to May 2016.The investigation performed by this study shows that scrutinizing the speech acts employed in the headlines in news channels can be a good way to understand the intended meaning set by writers. It is found out that assertive speech acts are the most frequent speech acts used in the headlines of CNN and BBC news channels. The results also indicate that the headlines of CNN news channel show a preponderance use of commissives whereas the headlines of BBC news channel show an eminent employment of expressives.


Pragmatics, Pragmatic Analysis, Speech Acts, News Headlines, Media, BBC News Channel, CNN News Channel

Full Text:



Abba T. S. and Nasiru, M. (2015). "Speech Act Analysis of Daily Trust and The Nation Newspapers Headline Reports on "Boko Haram" Attacks" Journal of Communication and Culture, 6(1), April, pp. 63-72.

Beard, A. (2000). The Language of Politics .London: Rutledge.

Bednarek,M., and Caple, H. (2012). News Discourse. London:Continuum.

Bell, A. (1991). The Language of News Media. Cambridge,MA: Blackwell.

Chiluwa, I. (2007) “News Headlines as Pragmatic Strategy in Nigerian Press Discourse.” The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture, 27, 63-71.

Conboy,M. (2007) The Language of News. New York: Routledge.

Crystal, D. and Davy, D. (1969). Investigating English Style.London:Longman.

Dor, D. (2003) “On Newspaper Headlines as Relevance Optimizers.” Journal of Pragmatics ,35, pp.695.-721.

Duanprakhon, P. (2012) "Critical Discourse Analysis of News Headlines:A Case of Youth Crime in Thailand.' Unpblished M. A. Thesis National Institute of Development Adminstration

Fowler, R. (1991) Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the press. London: Rutledge.

Mardh, I. (1980) Headlinese: On the Grammar of English Front Page Headlines. Malmö,Sweden:CWK Gleerup.

Mey, J. L. (2001) Pragmatics: An Introduction .Oxford : Blakwell Publisher.

Muhammed, M. M. (2005) "A Pragmatic Analysis of Selected English Political Newspaper Headlines." Unpublished M.A. Thesis University of Baghdad, Iraq.

Prakash, A. and Dhawan, A. (2017). "Linguistic Divergences in Newspaper Headlines." International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Rresearch, 4(7), July.pp.858-864.

Reah, D.(1998). The Language of Newspaper. London: Rutledge.

Reah, D. (2002) The Language of Newspaper. 2nd Edition London: Rutledge.

Roya, M and Mahadi, T. (2017). The Rhetoric of Persian News Headlines: A Case Study of Euronews. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 6(2), March,pp.36-45.

Rustam, R. (2013). Pragmatic Analysis of CNN Headlines Representing Pakistan. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J. R. (1979). "A Taxonomy of Illocutionary Acts", in Searle J. R. (ed.) Expression and Meaning: Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 1-29 (originally published in 1975).

Siposova, A. (2011). Headlines and Subheadlines: Tense, Modality and Register Based on Discourse Analysis of The British Tobloid The Sun. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Masaryk University, Berno, Czech Republic.

Taiwo,R. (2007). "Language, Ideology and Power Relations in Nigerian Newspaper Headlines." Nebula,4(1) . 218-245.

Tuchman, G. (1978). Making News a Study of the Construction of Reality. NY: Free Press.

Ungerer, F. (ed.) (2000). English Media Texts Past and Present Language and Textual Structure Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Van Dijk,T A. (1977). Text and Context: Explorations in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse. London; Longman.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.3p.43


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.