Not a drop to drink: emerging meanings in local newspaper reporting of the 1995 water crisis in Yorkshire

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Abstract

This article takes data from the Huddersfield Examiner (HE) and the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) and critically analyzes discourse features of the November 1995 drought as reported in these papers. It suggests that this kind of discourse generates new linguistic categories, which exist between the generalized patterns of language flanguej and the differentiated experience of language in context (parolej. Whilst the langue-parole distinction is no longer seen as absolute, if it is seen as a gradable concept it could capture the tension between stability and change characterizing actual linguistic experience of discourse participants. The value of textual analysis is discussed and the article asks how far texts can be described as (re)producing ideologies in a particular context. The research reported here is based on a small, discrete corpus of news texts and concludes that the data in question produce a meaning for the wordwater that differs from its meaning over larger bodies of data, and yet which maps closely onto the meaning of the wor d commodity. The general ideological outlook encompassing this view of water as productlike and passive, rather than a natural resource with its own agency, is considered as an 'explanatory' mechanism linking this news 'story' with a dominant capitalist ideology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-538
Number of pages26
JournalText and Talk
Volume23
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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