Analysing the Semantic Prosody of Timeliness in Letters to the Editor of “The Times” on the Armenian Question from 1914 to 1926

Isabella Martini


The Armenian genocide of 1915-1923 (Dadrian 2003) had a massive international news coverage at the time of the events and in the decades that followed (Peltekian 2013; Elayyadi 2017), but few linguistic studies have examined its news discourse. None, so far, has analysed the letters to the editor commenting on the genocide and on the Armenian question at large. Letters to the editor, intended as specific news discourse, rarely have been targeted by linguistic studies (see Chovanec 2012; Romova and Hetet 2012; Pounds 2005; 2006). A corpus of 186 letters to the editor of The Times, published between 1914 and 1926, was collected to examine the linguistic strategies used to construct the newsworthiness of the Armenian genocide through the news value of timeliness. Timeliness is here intended as the recency in time of the events that are commented in the letters to the editor. The concepts of evaluation (Hunston and Thompson 2000), of evaluative parameters in media discourse (Bednarek and Caple 2019) and of semantic prosody (Partington 2004; Sinclair 2004) are applied to most recurrent lexical items related to timeliness (recent, new, last), analysing their concordances and collocates, thus combining discourse analysis with a corpus-driven approach (Tognini-Bonelli 2001; Sinclair 1996, 2004). The findings show the linguistic features of the semantic prosody of timeliness in the corpus.


Corpus Linguistics; News values; Letters to the Editor; Evaluative Language; Historical English

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