The Main Lexical Features of the Newspaper-Journalistic Style in Modern Chinese Media Texts

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Functional language styles serve social, political, economic, cultural, and other areas of human life, they are also widely used in our studies and life. The Chinese language’s journalistic style has its unique linguistic features that give us a basis for a better understanding of Chinese media texts. The research is carried out due to the necessity to identify the specifics and distinguishing features of the stylistic system of the Chinese language, in particular, the journalistic style, which is a kind of literary written Chinese language and is widely used in almost all mass media. The results introduce new data into the process of learning the functional styles of the Chinese language, and will also contribute to a better understanding of the structure, culture of the language, and content of Chinese media texts in terms of their lexical content.

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Introduction Newspaper-publicist style is one of the functional styles of language, which is widely used in the texts of the mass media, both traditional and electronic (print media, television, radio, and the Internet). The purpose of mass media is to report timely and cover major events in their own country and abroad for the audience, to influence their thoughts and feelings, and to mobilize them to work and actively participate in public and political life. The newspaper-publicist style is the main style in the language that implements communication in the social and political life of society. Social and political life includes many aspects such as domestic and foreign policy, economics, diplomacy, military affairs, science and technology, culture, education, and sports. Newspaper-publicist style shows the realities of these spheres in social and political life. Regardless of the communicative form, this style has a pronounced practical and political orientation. The subject of newspapers and public works is always relevant. History of the research of Russian and Chinese writing styles The description of the newspaper-publicist style in the history of Russian linguistics has a rather long history. In the first half of the 20th century, Soviet philologist G.O. Vinokur devoted a whole chapter in his monograph Culture of Language to the newspaper language [1]. G.O. Vinokur in his work revealed the peculiarities of newspaper speech from the point of the functionality of the style and laid the foundations of a systematic approach to the studying of the Russian language style. V.G. Kostomarov’s book Russian Language in the Newspaper Page (1971) contains the first detailed description and in-depth analysis of linguistic characteristics of the Russian newspaper-publicist style [2]. The author’s main ideas are concentrated in the fourth chapter of the book: so, V.G. Kostomarov believes that “the specificity of the newspaper speech lies primarily in its special and intentional expressiveness of the statement”. This feature distinguishes the newspaper-style from other styles. This definition, given by V.G. Kostomarov, is currently used by the majority of specialists and language scientists. Besides, it is worth noting other significant works in the field of functional styles of the Russian language, for example, the book The Stylistics of the Russian Language by Russian linguist M.N. Kozhina [3]. Several chapters of this work are devoted to linguistic characteristics of the Russian newspaper-publicist style. For the first time, stylistic features of Chinese texts in works of Russian Chinese scholars were described by V.I. Gorelov. His work The Stylistics of the Modern Chinese Language is notable, first of all, because it is still the only experience of the monographic study of the development and formation of macrostyles of the modern Chinese language [4]. The attempt to create a grammatical theory of the journalistic style of the Chinese language was made by the Moscow scientist E.N. Orlov, who studied the grammatical features of social and political texts. The subject of his dissertation work for the Ph.D. degree in philological sciences was stated as The Grammatical Features of the Chinese Language’s Journalistic Style [5]. However, the given scientific work is aimed at comparing the grammatical features of the journalistic and artistic styles. It successfully examined the question of the functioning of the wenyan official words. E.N. Orlov also considered some features of using and variation of official words (their kinds) as wenyan or baihua in newspaper articles. However, time passes by, language develops and so does the newspaper-publicist style. This article examines the features of the modern newspaper-publicist style of the Chinese language at the lexical level. Lexical features of the journalistic style of the Chinese language In terms of vocabulary, the works, which are written about the Chinese language’s journalistic style, consider the following characteristics [6]: 1. In media texts there is widespread use of social and political vocabulary, as well as terminology denoting the concepts of politics, economics, medicine, morality, ethics, culture, etc. For example, Political terms: 经济全球化 (economic globalization) 、创新能力 (innovation potential) 、政治共识 (political consensus) 、和平共处五项原则 (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Pancasila)) 、双边关系 (bilateral relations); Economic terms: 商品经济 (commercial farm) 、生产力 (productive forces) 、按劳分配 (distribution by labour). 2. Lexical means of media texts are common with expression, emotionality, calling to action. Media text actively uses expressive means, which are used in fiction. From the point of the vocabulary, the use of allegory, comparisons, epithets, metaphors, and other figurative means is common. A good example is the article Conversation about Young China. The author of the article Liang Qichao expressed an opinion that when young people are strong, China is strong, and expressed his love to the Motherland. In the article, the author uses a metaphor, for example, 老年人如夕照,少年人如朝阳;老年人如瘠牛,少年人如乳虎;老年人如僧,少年人如侠 (Old like sunset, young - like the morning sun; old - like old bulls, and young ones - like young tigers; old - like monks, and young - like knights) [7]. 3. The author can use colloquial and simple words and phrases, phraseological expressions. Mao Zedong used colloquial vocabulary and classic characters in his article Goodbye, Stuart, for example, 鸟兽散 (dissipate in complete disarray (as birds and animals)) 民不畏死 (people are not afraid of death), 嗟来之食 (food offered in contemptuous tone) 太公钓鱼、愿者上钩 (Taigan takes the fish, and the one, who wants goes to the rod. Taigun's rod catches someone who voluntarily wants to be caught), etc. [8]. The lexicon-semantic analysis of Chinese media texts showed that along with the lexical features described above, which are common to the newspaper-publicist style of the Russian and Chinese languages, Chinese is characterized by the following features related to the cultural and historical features of the country's development and the peculiarities of writing: 1. The desire to resort more often to explanations in the text, to reduce the use of lexical means incomprehensible to the reader. As mentioned above, publicity is one of the most important requirements of the newspaper-journalistic style. For Chinese media texts, it is doubly relevant. This means that when you are working with the text you should try to avoid using words that are not common for newspapers and magazines. For example, 赑 (be angry), 叆叇 (black, thick), etc. There are only about 100,000 characters in the Chinese language. But only about five thousand hieroglyphics are most often used in the current vocabulary. There are also many low-use words in the Chinese language. Therefore, the use of these rare characters can cause misunderstanding among most readers. 2. Tendency is to use baihua (the official recording system of modern spoken Chinese) more often, less use wenyan (or “Classic Chinese” is a written language used in China until the early 20th century). One of the most important requirements for lexical components of media texts is their publicity. The newspaper text is designed for a wide audience, and it should be understood by the whole audience. At present, baihua is used in the writing of newspaper-publicist texts, but the wenyan has not completely disappeared. Some components of the wenyan and its grammatical forms are still found in articles and in everyday language. However, when using wenyan, you need to be more careful to avoid mistakes. Proper use of wenyan can make the article more colorful. If misused, this may interfere with the understanding of the meaning of the text or distort the author's original intent, the reader may not understand it. A common mistake is the misuse of the wenyan’s words, for example, using 攸 “yawu”. 攸 is a pronoun of the early Ancient Chinese language, denoting together with the following verb the object of the latter, most often with the meaning of the place of action. 3. The tendency to reduce abstraction is the predominantly usage of specific, rather than abstract, noun names. For example, modern Chinese newspaper and publicist materials often use the proper names and geographical names. These proper names are representing specific people, places, and events, they are integral elements of the description of news events. Sometimes listing multiple proper names can underscore the significance of an event. For example, in the article 撸起袖子加油干 - 31个省市区落实中央要求扎实行动 (Work Hard - the Population of 31 Provinces, Guided by the Principles of the CPC Central Committee, is Moving Forward) 31 units of the administrative division of the People’s Republic of China are listed there. Such an impressive number of proper names, and geographical names point to the task of emphasizing the important role of each province in implementing the party's objectives. In the article 2020年10月12日0至24时青岛市新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情情况 (The Situation with the Coronavirus Epidemic in Qingdao City on the 12th of October 2020) people’s names, geographical names and other proper names contribute to a detailed description of the situation and the location of all sick people in Qingdao. Frequent use of proper names in media texts is inevitable. The use of this language category in the text promotes a clearer and more accurate readership. The use of proper names, such as geographical names, in the news is an important manifestation of specificity in the description of facts. When reporting news facts, you should use less conceptual language and avoid abstract words, use verbs more often, nouns, and numbers with exact meanings. 4. Besides, the use of phrases of three or four morpheme-hieroglyphics is also an important lexical feature of the newspaper-publicist style in the Chinese media. Such phrases are not set phrases and are not used in everyday speech and artistic texts. They achieve brevity of syllable, imagery, and agitation intonation. The purpose of using such phrases is propaganda, persuasion, and appeal. For example, in the article 讲政治、勇担当、抓落实、促发展 - 书记在干啥? (About Politics, Responsibility, Initiative, Practicality, an Incentive for Development - How Does the Party Secretary Implement It?), published by Xinhua News Agency on the 30th of May, the title used a combination of four phrases, each consisting of three characters - 讲政治、勇担当、抓落实、促发展 (politics, responsibility, practicality and incentive). The phrases of the three characters summarize the main content of the article. The article also uses phrases, which consist of four characters: 扫黑除恶 (Revenge black is to eradicate crime), 加强调研 (increased surveillance), 促进落实 (promoting implementation) and 谋划举措 (action plan). The phrases of three or four characters are widely used both in traditional Chinese media and in online media, forming the distinctive stylistic and linguistic characteristics of the journalistic style of Chinese periodicals, as well as improving the expressiveness of the language of mass communication. They reinforce the expressiveness of the texts of newspaper-publicist style in the Chinese language. 5. There is a tendency to use both colloquial vocabulary, vernacular, and Internet slang in the modern newspaper-publicist style of the Chinese language. For example, 最美逆行者 (Those Who Go in the Opposite Direction are Heroes in Danger),云监工 (by via live broadcast remotely monitor the work), etc., the using of such internet slang can resonate with a large, especially young audience and help the media text to achieve the goal: to appeal and to encourage. 6. Usually, careful use of adjectives with emotional coloring is required to achieve the objectivity of written texts. But unlike other styles, the newspaper-publicist style widely uses such emotionally-colored words in Chinese mass media. For example, 出色的 (outstanding), 奢华的 (wasteful). Conclusion As a result of the study, lexical features of newspaper-publicist style in Chinese media texts were identified and described. The article named not only those features that are common both for Russian and Chinese languages (widespread using of terminology, emotionality, colloquial and common words and turns, phraseological expressions), but also named features of newspaper and publicity texts in the Chinese language, which are related to the specifics of its development and structure (publicity, the tendency to use baihua, the tendency to reduce abstraction, the use of phrases from three to four morpheme-hieroglyphics, the tendency to use colloquial vocabulary and the use of adjectives with emotional coloring).

About the authors

Dai Gao

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
10 Miklukho-Maklaya St, bldg 2, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation

PhD student, Department of Theory and History of Journalism, Philological Faculty

Anna E. Bazanova

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

10 Miklukho-Maklaya St, bldg 2, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation

Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor, Department of Theory and History of Journalism, Philological Faculty


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Copyright (c) 2021 Gao D., Bazanova A.E.

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