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A Transitivity Study of News Reports about Haiti Earthquake in 2010

Author: QianXuePing
Tutor: YuZi
School: Zhejiang Normal University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: transitivity earthquake news reports feature function
CLC: H052
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 14
Quote: 0
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Abstract


Recent years, countries like China, Haiti, have been attacked by devastating earthquakes, which catches the attention of mass media at home and abroad. An earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January,2010. With the magnitude estimated at 7.0. the earthquake was considered as the worst in the region in more than 200 years. This research aims to apply transitivity system to analyze news reports about this earthquake. It is a new attempt to adopt transitivity as an analytical approach to the analysis of earthquake news reports.This thesis attempts to find the features of transitivity processes in earthquake news reports. To accomplish this goal, the author poses three research questions:1) What are the distributions of transitivity processes and main participants in earthquake news items? 2) What are the functions of each transitivity process in earthquake news items? 3) What are the features of transitivity processes in earthquake news items?This paper is to analyze the three chosen news reports quantitatively. These news reports are about the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which are available on the New York Times’website. The distribution of each transitivity process type will be analyzed primarily. Based on the results of analysis, the functions and features of the transitivity types will be interpreted.Through the quantitative analysis and discussion of the three news texts, the thesis obtains the following findings. Material, verbal and relational processes are the most dominating process types in the earthquake news reports. The participants in these three processes are usually predictable. Meanwhile, the functions of them are revealed along with the analysis. As the largest process type in such kinds of reports, material process mainly represents the fierceness and destructiveness of the earthquake and humanitarian response to the quake. Accordingly, the participants, like earthquake, infrastructures, international aid occur regularly. Taking the authority and survivor as the most frequent participants, the verbal process is to convey new information to public or to support what the author intends to say. which enhances the authoritativeness and objectivity of the reports. Most of the relational processes are attributed to describe the physical damage caused by the quake. Therefore, the participants are mainly the infrastructures and public services. Another two frequently occurring participants are earthquake and survivor. Due to the length of the thesis, the less dominant process types—behavioral, mental and existential process are not analyzed here.Though there are still some limitations in this research, it is hoped that it can give some hints to the study of earthquake news reports.

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