Publication details [#5741]

Herrera-Soler, Honesto, Michael V. White, Beatriz Villacañas and Marian Amengual. 2006. Figurative language in English and Spanish business press headlines and its effects on inter- and intra-cultural communication 27 pp.
Publication type
Unpublished manuscript
Publication language
Place, Publisher


The present paper is based on a research project that attempts to carry out a quantitative and qualitative study of metaphor in business press headlines and their effects on communication. Having discussed essential cognitive aspects of the nature of headlines as a discourse type, the study focuses on the use of metaphor and metonymy in this area. For our empirical basis, we take a clearly delimited sample of a broader project, using as source material in this case one issue per week over a period of a month of the 'Financial Times', 'El Pais' and 'El Mundo', restricting our selection to headlines on business issues. A hand search is carried out on this material, initially establishing data for figurative versus non-figurative headlines for each language separately. The quantitative findings are then analysed qualitatively, establishing patterns and evaluating the relation between figurative language uses and communicative impact. One pattern common to both languages clearly stands out. We call this pattern literal-figurative interface. Such headlines - e.g., "El automovil perdio velocidad en 2002" or "Horizons are hazy for the travel industry" - at first sight, raise denotative expectations because they use lexical items from the semantic field of the subject under discussion. This use, however, turns out not to be denotative but to be figurative and we claim this combination plays a major role in orchestrating coherence. Again, this patten is analysed quantitatively and qualitatively, establishing it to be statistically significant on the one hand and highly communicative on the other. Moreover, its appearance in headlines from both languages and the ratio in which it appears underscores its nature as a typical press headline resource and as one of particular communicative impact. (Honesto Herrera, Michael White, BeatrizVillacanas, Marian Amengual)