Abstract: With the development of mass media, newspaper is one of the major media for us to get information all over the world. Nowadays English newspaper is very popular and read all over Chine. However, many people still have difficulty in understanding English newspaper headlines even for some English majors. This is because English newspaper headlines have their own special features, culture backgrounds and different from the daily English we used in many aspects. This paper will then focus on the lexical, structure features and rhetorical devices of English newspaper headlines, which can help us to have a better understanding when we are reading newspapers. Key words: Newspaper headline, Lexical features, Structure features, Rhetorical devices.
Every time we pick up a newspaper, what come into our sight will be lots of news headlines. A headline has become an indispensable part of newspaper. The editor means to attract the reader’s attention through headlines. As a result, news paper headlines are usually specially designed to be short, concise, and informative to convey different kinds of information. We may be confused by the headlines like “Cater’s War on Waste”, “UFO Sighted”, “Smugglers Get Jail and Fines”, “Weekly Mag for Stamp Lovers to Be Launched”, ect. Yet without some knowledge of news headline features, it is not easy for us to read English newspaper. This paper has summarized the study of newspaper development in recent years and presents the lexical features, structure features and rhetorical devices of English newspaper headlines in details.
II. Literature Review
The study of English newspaper headlines can date back to 1990s. In the past ten years many scholars in China have carry out many study concerning news headlines and many papers have been published. One of the papers, 《On the Features of English Newspaper Headline》, is written by Zhang Qiong in 2001. That paper covers different features of newspaper headlines but it is not specific enough. This paper will concentrate on three aspects of news headlines, lexical features, structure features and rhetorical devices, which help to some extend make our understanding of newspaper headlines more deeply and specific.
III. Lexical Features of English Newspaper Headlines
Lexical features of English newspaper headlines can mainly include four parts. They are exemplified as follows.
Abbreviation, which is used in a large quantity in English newspaper, means “A shortened form of a word or phrase used chiefly in writing to represent the complete form”. Generally speaking there are 3 kinds of Abbreviations used in the newspaper.
① Abbreviation for organizations
Examples: UNESCO = Uinted Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization PLO = Palestine Liberation Organization
IOC = International Olympic Committee
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration APEC = Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference FIFA = Federation Internationale de Football Association
② Abbreviation for profession and career
Examples: MP = member of parliament PM = prime minister GM = general manager PA = personal assistant
③ Abbreviation for our familiar things
Examples: UFO = Unidentified Flying Object DJI = Dow-Jones Index AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
GMT = Greenwich Mean Times
Laser = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Radar = Radio Detection and Ranging
Sonar = Sound Navigation Ranging
TOEFL = Test of English as A Foreign Language
IELTS = International English Language Testing System
Shortening of different words in newspaper aims to spare more space or to cut down the length of the headlines. Examples: grad – graduate hosp – hospital cig – cigarette Cell – cellular Sec – second Reps – representatives Info – information Int’l – international Deli– delicatessen Hi-fi – high fidelity Hi-tech – high technology 3-D – three dimensional G-7 – Group of seven A-bomb – atom bomb V-day – victory day
Compound words in English newspaper are usually formed by two or over two words. By compounding, we can make complicated structure simpler, what’s more, save space. Examples: ① “Plan to aid school dropouts extended” ( China Daily, Feb.5.1998 ). Here “school dropouts” refers to “the student who drops out of school”. ② “Li stresses corruption fight” (China Daily, Feb.6.1998). Here “corruption fight” refers to “fight against corruption”.
 Informal and Small Words
Newspaper headlines are likely to use informal and small words because small words have more meanings than big words and can be used in many cases. In news English these words are refered to as “synonyms of all work”. Examples: aim——purpose, design, object intention, etc. meet——assembly, convention, congregation, exam,etc, pact——compact, contract,agreement,convention deal——negotiationm,transaction,bargain,etc.
Ⅳ. Structure Features of English Newspaper Headlines
Structure features of English newspaper headlines can be divided into two aspects. They are as follows:
Omission is one of the major features of English newspaper headlines. Generally speaking, omission can be classified 4 types.
① Omission of articles
Examples: Italian Ex-mayor Murdered ( = A Italian Ex-mayor Was Murdered ) Tenth of British Mackerel Catch Ground into Feed (= A Tenth of the British markerel Catch Ground into Feed )
② Omission of conjunction and pronoun
Examples: USA, Vietnam Resume Talks ( = USA and Vietnam Resume Talks ) Have Dollars, Will Sell ( = If You Have Dollars, Will Sell )
③ Omission of “be ” and auxiliary verbs
Examples: Three Dead after Inhaling over Gas ( = Three Are Dead after Inhaling over Gas ) Married Women to Get Care Allowance
( = Married Women Are to Get Care Allowance )
PNC’s world views praised ( = PNC’s world views were praised )
④ Omission of verbs
Examples: Ballots, Not Bullets ( = Algerians Want Ballots, Not Bullets ) Pom peii Reported Seriously Damaged
( = Pom peii Reported to Have Benn Seriously Damage)
 Use Noun to Replace Adjective, Phrase, and Verb
Nouns are frequently used in newspaper Headlines to replace different words to form various structures. So nouns are the most animated words in news headlines. Examples: Yugoslav pianist stirring music world
( “music world” = “musical world” )
Corruption Reports Against Police Rise
( “corruption reports” = “reports on corruption complaints ”) Female axe murderer executed
( “female axe murdered” = “ a female murderer who killed with an axe ” ) Export growth to beat crisis
( “growth” is used to replace “grow” )
Ⅴ. Rhetorical Devices Of English Newspaper Headlines
Rhetorical devices of English newspaper headlines mainly have six kinds. They are as follows.
Examples: The Son Also Rises To Save or Not to Save
The Road That Must be Taken Do as Maoris Do
The Great Mall of China Candidate in the Wind iPod, therefore, i am
Examples: A Dove Taking Wing
Whitewater May Drown Democrats
Alliteration is the repetition of initial identical consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables, esp. stressed syllables. Examples: Pride and Prejudice Sense and Sensibility
Kill or Cure? Carrots and Clubs?
Solitary Soldier Tiger Tied Virtual Villains
Rhyme is the repetition of an identical stressed vowel sound, followed by identical consonant sound but preceded by different consonants Examples: Masculine rhyme: Foe/toe meet/fleet make/brake Feminine rhyme: Revival/arrival mountain/fountain Eye rhyme: Brain Gain/Drain Dream Team Wheels and Deals Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble It’s More Than a War
Pun is an expression that achieves emphasis or humor by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meanings suggested either by the same word or by two similar sounding words. Examples: Why is the river so rich? It has two banks.
Why are monkeys as talkative as women? Each monkey has a tail(tale). Why is that female movie star so cool? She has many fans. Which can run faster, heat or cold? Heat, because everyone can catch cold. What is the worst weather for mice?
When it rains cats and dogs.
Why is the bride always unlucky on her wedding day? Because she can never marry the best man. What is mind? It doesn’t matter.
What is the matter? Never mind.
Examples: Rome is not built in a day.
Third time lucky.
The seven-year itch.
To sum up, English newspaper headlines can use different kinds skills of lexical features, structure features and rhetorical devices to create many effects. Besides the features mentioned above, there many other features in English newspaper headlines for us to analyze. Understanding the headlines of the news is a gateway to understand the whole news, so news headlines is an area worthwhile for us to go deep into.