Negotiating alignment in newspaper editorials: The role of concur-counter patterns

Ruth Breeze


Newspaper editorials are shaped by the need to negotiate alignment and rapport with a diverse readership. This is achieved partly through the resources of engagement (Martin and White 2005), that is, through the argumentative moves of disclaim, proclaim, entertain and attribute, by which dialogic relations with the reader are carefully modulated. One aspect of argumentation in editorials that has sometimes been overlooked is that of the concede-counter structure, by which the writer signals concurrence with the reader on a particular issue, only to counter this with a new argument that may wholly or partially refute the first one. Typically, leader writers signal this manoeuvre textually from the outset, indicating that they are setting up an argument in order to demolish it by means of specific lexical choices or patterns. Thus items such as “of course” or “naturally” are used to build up the first argument, with which the reader is understood to concur. This is generally followed by a turning point marked by “but”, “yet” or “though”, after which the counter-argument is presented. Corpus linguists have pointed out that the presence of this type of lexical patterning makes it possible to research argumentation in large volumes of text using corpus tools. This study contains an analysis of concede-counter patterns in a corpus consisting of all the editorials published in the Guardian newspaper in 2011. The distinctive patterns that emerge are described, with particular attention paid to patterns of alignment and disalignment that emerge, as well as the related use of concurrence in asides to the reader. The role of such patterns in structuring discourse is analysed, with a particular focus on their ideological dimension as a means of subtly aligning readers with a particular set of opinions.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Achugar, Mariana
(2004) The events and actors of 11 September 2001 as seen from Uruguay: Analysis of daily newspaper editorials. Discourse and Society 15.2-3: 291-320. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Amossy, Ruth
(2009) The New Rhetoric’s inheritance. Argumentation and discourse analysis. Argumentation 23: 313-324. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ansary, Hasan, and Esmat Babaii
(2005) The generic integrity of newspaper editorials: A systemic functional approach. RELC Journal 36.3: 271-295. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Bakhtin, Mikhail
(1978) Discourse typology in prose. In Ladislay Matejka, and Krystyna Pomorska (eds.), Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications, pp. 176-196.Google Scholar
Bolívar, Adriana
(1994) The structure of newspaper editorials. In Malcom Coulthard (ed.), Advances in Written Text Analysis. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 276-294.Google Scholar
Bourdieu, Pierre
(1977) Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Dafouz, Emma
(2008) The pragmatic role of textual and interpersonal discourse markers in the construction and attainment of persuasion: A cross-linguistic study of newspaper discourse. Journal of Pragmatics 40: 95-113. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Davies, Matt
(2013) Oppositions and ideology in news discourse. London: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
Diani, Giuliana
(2008) Emphasizers in spoken and written academic discourse. The case of really. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 13.3: 296-321. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hoey, Michael
(2005) Lexical priming. A new theory of words and language. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Hunston, Susan
(2001) Colligation, lexis, pattern and text. In Geoffrey Thompson, and Mike Scott (eds.), Patterns of text: In honour of Michael Hoey. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 13-33. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Kuhi, Davud, and Manijheh Mojood
(2014) Metadiscourse in newspaper genre: A cross-linguistic study of English and Persian newspaper editorials. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences 98: 1046–1055. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Le, Elisabeth
(2004) Active participation within written argumentation: Metadiscourse and editorialist’s authority. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 687-714. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mann, William C., and Maite Taboada
(2010) RST Website. Http://​www​.sfu​.ca​/rst
Martin, James R., and Peter R.R. White
(2005) The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave Macmillan. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Morley, John
(2006) Lexical cohesion and rhetorical structure. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 11.3: 265-282. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Perelman, Chaim, and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca
(1969) The New Rhetoric: A treatise on argumentation. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.Google Scholar
Simon-Vandenbergen, Anne-Marie, and Karin Aijmer
(2007) The semantic field of modal certainty: A corpus based study of English adverbs. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Taboada, Maite, and Maria de los Angeles Gómez-González
(2012) Discourse markers and coherence relations: Comparison across markers, languages and modalities. Linguistics and the Human Sciences 6: 17-41. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Van Dijk, Teun A
(1995) Discourse semantics and ideology. Discourse & Society 6.2: 243-289. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1996) Opinions and ideologies in editorials. Fourth International Symposium of Critical Discourse Analysis.Google Scholar
Verschueren, Jef
(2012) Ideology in Language Use: Pragmatic Guidelines for Empirical Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar