Thinking about the News: Thought Presentation in Early Modern English News Writing

Brian Walker, Daniel McIntyre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reports on our continuing research into discourse presentation (DP) in a corpus of Early Modern English (EModE) writing, manually annotated for categories of DP originally proposed in Leech and Short (1981 [2007]) and later developed by Semino and Short (2004). Our focus in this chapter is on EModE news texts and follows on from McIntyre and Walker (2011, 2012), where we found particular DP categories to be over-represented in our EModE data when compared against Present Day English (PDE) news journalism. For example, we found that two categories of thought presentation (indirect thought and the narrator’s presentation of a thought act) were used significantly more in the EModE data than in PDE. Much of the indirect thought in the EModE data was concerned with constructing the hypothetical thoughts of others. Consequently, we hypothesised that EModE news writers were particularly concerned with speculating about reactions to events rather than giving their own opinions. In this chapter we examine in more detail the forms and functions of thought presentation in EModE news writing, since the presentation of the thoughts of others by journalists in news texts seems rather odd because it is impossible to access other people’s thoughts. Indeed, presenting one’s own thoughts from a past situation is highly problematic. In this chapter, we will look at the extent to which this phenomenon occurs, and attempt to account for its relatively frequent presence in EModE news writing
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorpora and Discourse Studies
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating Discourse and Corpora
EditorsAnthony McEnery, Paul Baker
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781137431738
ISBN (Print)9781137431721
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2015

Publication series

NamePalgrave Advances in Language and Linguistics

Cite this