Not So Pretty: Discourses About Models' Rights

Valentina Adami, Mara Logaldo


This essay analyses a corpus of online articles dealing with models’ rights collected in the press section of the “Model Alliance” website. The articles (about 60, plus the related blogs and forums) were originally published in various newspapers and magazines between 2010 and 2013, and they are an interesting object of analysis for the linguist who intends to investigate how language is used to build up semantically and syntactically coherent forms of discourse about social and cultural issues that are perceived as yet “unexplored.”

The analysis develops along two main lines: 1. a quantitative and qualitative lexical analysis based on semantic fields theory and discourse analysis, during which ten key topics (age, education, health, body, work, money, rights, law, sex, power) were identified and then grouped together into five semantic fields and 2. the use of semantic, morphological and rhetorical strategies, with particular emphasis on forms of negativization as well as on the use of modifiers, prefixes and suffixes. The study has confirmed the hypothesis that journalistic language needs to find a “voice” when dealing with new and contested topics. In fact, particularly in the first phase (2010-2012), journalistic discourses about models’ rights presented a more tentative style compared to more consolidated subjects covered in news reports.

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