English broadcast is not something new in China at the present time. Historically, China Radio International (CRI), FM 91.5, the only official foreign channel, has set up in 1941. During such time, the first task of it was for communication at war. With the development of the reform and opening up policy, China’s foreign broadcast especially English broadcast plays a more crucial role on the stage between China and the world.
As an international language, English plays a significant role which conveys news to the whole world including politics, economy, military, society, diplomacy and so on. In order to elevate China’s international stature, foreign broadcast in China like English newscast has gradually changed its broadcast’s style which makes English-speaking foreigners or Chinese living overseas accept more easily. Accordingly, the news utterance has been transformed into a more proper style to fit Chinese understanding.
A Research Motives
In order to examine these research questions more effectively, I would like to adopt:
1 A theoretical perspective to examine these issues in the research.
2 An introspective way of discussion for this paper.
B Literature Review
Some experts’ researches of English newscast give me initial resources that I tend to use in my paper including:
1 In an earlier academic journal published in 1992, Jian Zhang described that English newscast did not just pick out news from newspapers, TV reports or websites directly. The wording should be short and tend to be colloquial to understand and the sentence structure should also be short and simple. Declarative sentences were wildly used in English newscast.
2 In a previous quarterly publication in 1995, Jiazhen Cai focused on the vocabulary and grammar of English newscast. The words contained hyphens were widely found in English newscast which might give listeners a more vivid impression and grammatical omission was always used for newscast.
3 In a recent academic journal published in2007, Qian Feng researched the utterance frame and lexical density of English newscast. Sentence structure of China’s English newscast had changed its style for Chinese listeners to get.
4 In a more-recent master thesis in 2012, Xing Zhou focused on the development of China Radio International and illustrated the particularities of English broadcast in China. Cultural fusion was regarded be conducive to accept news easily for English-speaking foreigners or oversea.
5 One recent study showed the transformation process of news before broadcast so as to be more acceptable for its listeners. The native culture had a great influence on foreign broadcast. Chinese enjoyed features of literary grace and various rhetoric expressions while British liked the style of simplicity and focused on the fact.
C Existing Problems
Based on the results of some initial reading and personal reflection, I find that there exist some problems that have not received a due treatment in this field. My further research is to prove some major problems which may include the challenging issues and list them as follows:
1 The sources of utterance for English newscast are more limited to words or phrases.
2 The relationship between English newscast’s style and English-speaking countries’ culture can have a much deeper research.
D Research Focuses
At the present stage of my study, I mainly focus on researching utterance on China’s English newscast, such as words, tenses, lexical density and so on. I hope to highlight here utterance play an essential role on English newscast from the foregoing discussion.
In this paper, I try to account for some striking differences between Chinese culture and English-speaking countries’ culture which have influenced on China’s English newscast a lot. I endeavor to summarize a complete transformation process of news utterance and show the culture influence on Chinese thoughts and give people a deeper impression of China on the world stage. Examples of English newscast will be widely used.
CHAPTER ‘The situation of China’s English newscast
A The exiting situation
China’s foreign broadcast is making progress now to become international. There are all-English broadcast channel and bilingual broadcast channel in China.
Nevertheless, all-English broadcast channel is unpopular. In view of the fact that English is not the native language for Chinese people. The number of listeners is on the decrease. Except the uneven English level, less and less Chinese listen to the radio or have less time to listen. Besides, the field for foreign language channel is small. There are few chances for foreign broadcast to enlarge or propagandize. These are some reasons why China’s English broadcast can not get certain popularity.
B The development trend
CHAPTER ‘The features of English newscast
A Words and phrases
There are objective words or phrases dominantly form a newscast. The words meaning are detailed and unique to avoid ambiguity. In the event of broadcasting a word frequently, the newscaster may change another word to avoid repetition.
1 Handy word
Newscast tends to simplified version. In other word, the words consist of short syllable are popular. ‘Allowance to be cut in 200,000 families’ here cut replaces reduce or curtail. The editor always changes its written form into colloquial one.
grab replaces acquire
spur replaces encourage
boom replaces increase
clear replaces eliminate.
a wide choice of replaces alternative
Abbreviations are commonly used in English newscast like some public organizations. The abbreviations which are used in newscast must be commonly known by the public. Otherwise, they must broadcast the full name in the news.
Initialism can be found in newscast that the words formed from the initial letters of every word and pronunciation based on every initial letter, such as IMF (International Monetary Fund), GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Jiazhen Cai (1996) quoted ‘At the U.N. Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Peres de Cuellar met with British and Argentine envoys on a U.N. peace plan for the Falklands.’. Another example ‘Reports just coming in from Kuwait say that one of the most senior members of the P.L.O, Mr. Khalil Awozir has been shot dead.’.
Acronym also means the words formed from the initial letters of every word. Nevertheless, the pronunciation is different from initialism. An acronym may be pronounced as a word. For instance, ‘Mrs. Thatcher was addressing a meeting in London of the North Atlantic Assembly, composed of legislators from NATO countries.’ NATO has its own phonetic symbol-[‘neit??u]. ‘A number of OPEC countries have agreed to cut their oil output to try to stabilize prices.’ OPEC is read in [‘??upek] not just every single letter.
In order to broadcast the news accurately and give a vivid description to the listeners, the editors may shift the word class or the meaning. For example, ‘The accident happened as he was trying to get back onto the circuit after skidding off while negotiating a bend.’ Negotiating here means pass the bend.
a Transfer verb to noun
‘And the official election committee giving final returns said Mr. Roh obtained just over thirty-six and a half percent of the votes” Here returns as a noun mean the vote result.
b Transfer noun to verb
‘Eight different models will be marketed in Britain.’
c Transfer adverb to verb
‘The United States upped its quota on textiles from the ROC.’
d Transfer adjective to noun
‘The Japanese Government has reached a record low in popularity.’
The same purpose as polysemy, sometimes the editors compound the word to create a new word what we call neologism for newscast such as:
newscast (news and broadcast)
stagflation (stagnation and inflation)
politburo (political and bureau)
Reaganomics (Reagan and economics)
The neologisms are used temporarily. Particularly, some words will be remained if they get their popularity.
With the exception above, the words contained hyphens are widely used in newscast which might give listeners a more vivid impression and make the sentence be brief.
a Compound nouns as adjective
‘The agreement was signed with President Mitterrand to mark the 25th anniversary of the Franco-German treaty which sealed the postwar reconciliation between the two countries.’ Franco-German represents France and Germany.
b Compound participles as adjective
‘China has become the fifth world power with underwater missile-launching capability by successfully firing its first missile from a submarine.’
c Compound verbs as adjective
‘The American troops, along with the French and Italian troops of the multinational peacekeeping force, will not be engaging in any search-and-arrest operations.’
The editors prefer ambiguity to accuracy when they cope with numbers. Words like almost, roughly, some, average, just over, just below and so on is widely found in newscast. For instance, ‘The guardian council in Iran says it has ended its ban on almost 1200 candidates for Parliament. The group announced the move on Friday after reexamining an earlier decision to bar about 3600 candidates.’ (VOA, Jan 30, 2004)
Comparing with the newspaper, the journalist is accustomed to listing all accurate numbers. Fractions and decimals usually appear on the newspaper. ‘Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 91 cents to settle at $51.13 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after briefly falling below the $50 mark for the first time in about two month to $49.75.’ (News week, April 14, 2005)
If numbers are all listed in the newscast, listeners may lose their interests to keep listening and may not remember the key point after long and accurate numbers. On the contrary, people can control their own time when read newspapers. Accordingly, radio and newspaper have a different way to deal with numbers.
Based on western journalism, six elements are needed in the newscast, WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY (five W) and HOW (one H). Simple sentences are widely used in newscast. Listeners can get the main idea with these short and easy sentences. In the event of a tedious sentence, people may lose their interests to keep listening.
It may be called the soul of newscast. There are invariably headlines before every newscast as ‘Here are the news headlines of this hour.’. It is a highly simplified version of news. It is always single-deck composing of just one sentence or one phrase which contains topic and facts for arousing listeners’ attention-getter. For instance, ‘Israel’s Prime Minister about to deliver a major policy speech in Parliament.’ the sentence used a phrase instead of a complete sentence as a headline.
For the headline of English newscast, three elements are basically needed, WHO, WHAT and WHEN. ‘Former American reconnaissance pilot Francis Gary Powers was killed Monday in a helicopter crash in California.’, Sometimes it also adds the element HOW, in a helicopter crash, and the element WHERE, in California in this headline sentence.
After giving the headlines, the details are usually begun with ‘Now the details of the news’. It focuses on the element HOW and gives listeners more comments about the news.
a Source attributions
This part is always placed at first to make it sound naturally and consequently.
‘An Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman said a mastermind of terrorism had been eliminated, and one Cabinet said such attacks would continue.’ (BBC, April 18, 2004)
We shift the focus on newspaper. ‘I am a little nervous because, because I never flew before and I have never been out of the country,’ says Kelvin Cunningham. For 17 years he had a job at American Candy in Selma. Now he works for Hyundai and is heading to Korea. (The Times, Jan 30, 2004)
If the source attribution of newscast is put the same place as newspaper, listeners may do not understand who says the sentence till the end. So they often order the source attribution at first in newscast.
A lead sentence, 30 or 40 words, is always placed as the first sentence of every news. It is usually the longest one in overall sentences which is supposed to comprise of the basic six elements (five W and one H). The sentence structure of the leading sentence is more complex than the following sentences.
BBC (Feb. 13, 1992) broadcasted ‘The United Nations has considered sending a large UN peacekeeping force with nearly 12 thousand soldiers to Croatia.’
The same news we shift on newspaper ‘Boutros Ghali, the United Nations secretary general, yesterday strongly recommended the deployment of the first UN peacekeeping force on the mainland of Europe, a larger than expected contingent of 11, 500 ‘Blue berets’ to police three Serb enclaves in Croatia on the advice of Cyrus Vance, his special envoy to Yugolsavia, after heavy pressure from European countries fearful that the current ceasefire in Croatia might soon break down.’ (The Guardian, Feb. 14, 1992)
The lead of newspaper tends to comprehensiveness but the newscast is inclusiveness.
We shift the focus on body features. They give listeners more details about the lead sentence. Every sentence contains 20 or 30 words which is less than the lead sentence.
The New York Times (Feb. 18, 1992) wrote ‘Both the British and French governments had registered initial objections to German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Gensher’s plan to provide alternative scientific work for thousands of skilled people left unemployed and unpaid by the collapse of the Soviet military-industrial complex, which was first floated two weeks ago, but have withdrawn them as the idea has evolved. ‘.
The same news broadcasted by VOA (Feb. 17, 1992) ‘Britain and France have now agreed to German foreign minister Gensher’s plan to give a wide choice of scientific work to thousands of skilled but jobless people left over by the falling down of the Soviet Union. Gensher;s plan got support two weeks ago except that Britain and France expressed their disagreement.’
The newspaper contained more than 40 words with complex sentence structure. On the other hand, the radio report gave less word with simple sentence to describe the same news for listeners to remember easily. The words are transferred by the above rule:
express replaces register
disagreement replaces objection
jobless replaces unemployed
falling down replaces collapse
got support replaces floated
Another example following the above example of Chernobyl:
(1) It is expected that the talks to be held in Moscow will result in agreement to close Chernobyl by the year 2000 in exchange for three billion dollars in aid.
(2) Earlier President Clinton called for agreement on a comprehensive nuclear test ban.
(3) For the first time President Yeltsin said he would support such a ban unless Russian interests were threatened.
Comparably, the body sentences are much shorter than the leading sentence. They contain some new information which is unimportant to be placed in the leading sentence like (2).
The Inverted Pyramid Form is the most appropriate structure for newscast. News is ordered by its importance. Lead sentence as the first sentence is the longest one. Then, the details are following.
The Inverted Pyramid Form was created in United States during the Civil War. Telegraphy just came into use at that time. The immature technique and military commandeering restricted information’s delivery. Because of this fact, a lot of telegraphy was cut on the way. Journalist then found a new way to broadcast to cope with this emergency. They put the latest war news or the most important war results at the first place. And the details were following by its importance. This urgent measure kept every part’s relatively independence in case some parts were cut. Then the contingency measure became popular for newscast and named The Inverted Pyramid Form. Listeners could hear the most important news or be attracted by the first part.
CHAPTER ‘The utterance of English newscast
Evidently, tenses can show a sign of time. Therefore, we may not find a significant word of time in a headline sentence. ‘World leaders meeting in Moscow to discuss nuclear safety are considering a plan to close the Chernobyl nuclear plant for good.’ The verb ‘are considering’ regards as a sign of time. If the tense is obvious, the significant word of time may be omitted.
1 Simple present
The most popular tense of newscast is simple present. In spite of much news has happened, they broadcast the news with simple present tense to highlight its new. In other words it may be called historical present. For instance, ‘UK’s oldest person dies at 115.’ Especially there is no significant word of time, the tense can be represented by these four verbs, say, report, show and believe, which are the most popular words in newscast.
To emphasis on the past sometimes, the newscaster may use past tense sometimes. ‘Lennon gave an interview on final day.’
2 Present progressive
The form V-ing represents something is underway or will be done immediately. It has a role to show a developing trend as well. ‘China is winning the Asian Games in New Delhi.’ This sentence represents a status.
Omission is the most representative one.
1 Omit relative pronoun or preposition
‘Britain also said (on) Monday (that) helicopter units from its naval task force had sunk an Argentine patrol boat and damaged another.’
2 Omit subject complement
‘France is reported (to do) exploding its 81st underground nuclear test in the south Pacific Wednesday.’
C Utterance frame
1 Phonetic feature
Newscasters have a high standard of pronunciation. BBC newscasters adopt R.P. (Received Pronunciation) which sounds hard and lucid. VOA has another one called G.A. (General American) which sounds soft and smooth. Apart from that feature, G.A. has a lot of slur and the rhythm is up and down.
For China’s English newscaster, taking China Radio International (CRI) for example, they broadcast with both R.P. and G.A. system. The number of G.A. newscaster has a rising trend in younger newscasters.
2 Lexical densities
According to Qian Feng’s academic journal published in 2007 (the following statistical analysis table 1), the lexical density of newscast is quite intensive which can show the feature of newscast is informative. Moreover, the words of journalese had a considerable range in newscast also show its feature.
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