Ikhsanudin Ikhsanudin Author
Title: AN ANALYSIS ON SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FACTORS FOUND IN NEWSPAPER HEADLINE
Author: Ikhsanudin
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Introduction The press, one form of the media which has long become a means of communication, has an important role as well as a potential ...
Introduction

The press, one form of the media which has long become a means of communication, has an important role as well as a potential power in our society. It has an important role in human’s life since it gives people information about the surrounding situation or what is happening in the world. Through the language used in the newspaper, people get information about various news concerning economy, politic, sport or other local, national and international events. It is only through the mass media such as the newspaper that people know among other things, how the president and cabinet work together to improve the country, how far the government officials have run the democracy system in the country, what happens to the elite politico or how the economy condition in our country is.


The newspapers even become the concern of the linguists for the way the information is written / presented to the readers and what meaning the information can give. The newspaper has the potential power in our society because it determines what news would be given to the society or who can get into the papers. The newspaper also has power in creating new words and expressions in the language used. Many new words especially slang and acronyms are used by the society because they read in the newspapers though sometimes people do not really know the exact meaning of the new expressions. Thus, for many people, newspapers “constitute the most substantial consumption of printed discourse” (Goatly 2000:247).
However, people should not be too quick to consider the media as all powerful and the public as only “puppets of media control” (Thomas, 1999:51) because people can have their own choice not to read or buy the newspaper. Although it is right that people can have their own choice not to read or buy the newspaper, the press still has significant power in the society through the news or messages presented. The society’s or laymen’s knowledge about certain events or government policies is only from the media (e.g. the newspaper) because actually they know nothing about the events or the policies. If the journalists are less objective in presenting the news, the readers will get bias information. Therefore, linguists have been interested in the relationship between how a story gets told and what that might indicate about the point of view that it gets told from” (Thomas, et al. 1999:52). Thus, the writer in this paper would like to analyze how the linguistic choices and linguistic structures made in media texts of different newspapers as seen in Jambi Express and Jambi Independent can construct different linguistic representations of events in the world.
The significance of the study
The contribution of the study would be as follows:
1. The writer hopes that the result of this study will give information and knowledge to the readers about the linguistic choices and linguistic structures made in media texts
2. It is also useful for the lecturer to enrich their insight of semantics study to the students’ college.
Review of related literature
a. The concept of syntax and semantics
In reporting news in the newspapers, journalists are free to use words and expressions, language style and linguistic structures. These differences in the linguistic choices, the language style and the linguistic structures lead to different versions and views of the same event in different newspapers. Therefore, people who read different newspapers about the same event will get different perceptions about the event, based on the journalists’ use of linguistic choices and linguistic structures. In other words, the sentences about the same event written in different newspapers are always syntactically and semantically different. Based on Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, syntactic or syntax refers to:

the study of how words combine to form sentences and the rules which govern the formation of sentences. In Generative Transformational Grammar, the syntactic component is one of the three main parts of the grammar. This component contains the rules for forming syntactic structures (base component / phrase structure component) and rules for changing these structures (transformational component)
(Richards, J. et al. 1985:285)
While semantic refers to the smallest units of meaning in a word (Richards, J. et al. 1985: 254).
Since language is an important means to present the information in the newspaper and the newspaper itself deals with the society as a whole; thus, it is important to look at the function of language in the society.
Language has informational function; that is, to convey information which is also called the subject matter. The expressive function is used to express the speakers / writer’s feelings and attitudes (i.e.: the poetic use of language, swear words and exclamations). The phatic function is used to keep communication lines open and keep social relationships well. So, phatic function is the function of maintaining cohesion within social groups. While, the aesthetic function is the use of language for the sake of the linguistic artifact that is to create an artistic effect. The directive function is used to direct or influence the behavior or attitudes of others (i.e.: commands, requests, etc.). Therefore, the orientation of directive function is toward the listener / reader, or the receiver’s end, rather than the originator’s end of the message.
Similar to Leech, Jakobson (1960), also states that the language functions can be related to five essential features in any communicative situation: subject matter, originator (speaker / writer), receiver (listener / reader), the channel of communication between them, and the linguistic message itself.
In newspapers, the language used to present events clearly has informative function since it informs the news to the readers. Besides, it also has expressive function since the choice of words can represent the journalists’ feelings and attitudes toward the events. Through the newspaper, people can keep social relationships; for example, when they want to have reunion with their friends, they could give announcement in the newspaper. Thus, the language used in the newspaper has the phatic function. It also implicitly has directive function since the events presented often form people’s opinion and it is not rare that people are provoked to act or to respond based on the reporter’s point of view or just based on one’s ideas.
According to the standard theory of transformational grammar, every sentence has two distinct levels of syntactic structure, namely deep structure and surface structure, linked by rules of a particular kind called transformations (Lyons 1995). Besides, based on the standard theory of transformational grammar,
the deep structure of a sentence is the output of the base component and the input to both the transformational component and the semantic component; the surface structure of a sentence is the output of the transformational component and the input to the phonological component.
(Lyons 1995: 212)

All the information needed by the semantic component is present in the base component; that is, the deep structure of sentences while all the information needed by the phonological component is present in the surface structures as result of the transformational rules operation. In other words, the deep structure is more closely related to meaning, and surface structure to pronunciation or form used in communication. As can be seen from the chart above, there is no arrow from the transformational component to semantic component; this means that “transformational do not affect meaning” as far as “the relation between syntax and semantics is concerned” (Lyons 1995:213).

Cooper (1973) agrees with Chomsky who states that grammar which is closely related to mind or represents human’s mind is Generative Transformational Grammar. Grammar is a set of rules that does not only contain description of language, but also explanation of how a speaker understands and produces language or sentences. Thus, if we talk about grammar, we also talk about the aspect of human’s mind.
In accordance with Cooper and Chomsky, Corder explains that:
1. The sentence is a sequence consisting of a noun phrase and a verb phrase.
2. The verb phrase is a sequence consisting of a verb and a noun phrase.
3. The noun phrase is a sequence consisting of a determiner and a noun.
4. Examples of nouns are: man, ball, etc.
5. Examples of verbs are: hit, etc.
6. An example of a determiner is: the.
(Corder 1973:186)
Methodology
Data used for this study were gathered from the newspaper of Jambi Express and Jambi Independent, on January 1st 2009. The writer used descriptive design to analyze the data and the terms that would be analyzed are only on headlines of both newspaper that is Jambi Express and Jambi Independent.
Finding and Discussion
In reporting news, reporters use different linguistic choices and linguistic structures, though the topic of the news is the same. This is common since reporters look at a certain event from different angles so that they have different focus in broadcasting the news. The different linguistic choices and linguistic structures used for the same topic in different newspapers are clearly seen in the headlines.
Newspaper headlines are considered very important since headlines could attract someone to buy the newspaper. Newspaper headlines are able to reach much more readers than the articles because those who buy newspapers would generally glance at the headlines first before they decide whether a particular issue is worth reading to them or not. Besides, headlines are often glanced at public places such as at the bus stop, at the train station, displayed on fliers, and even on the road when drivers have to stop for the red light; therefore, it is not surprising if headlines, especially the front page headlines, have a great impact on the readers. Newspaper headlines should be brief, eye catching and impacted; yet, they are memorable and effective. Therefore, they are written in short words which are quickly read and easily fitted into a small space on the newspaper. Thus, newspaper language headlines are important because they reflect the content of the whole issue or reported event.
Below are examples of how the reporters of Jambi Express and Jambi Independent use language, including the linguistic choices and linguistic structures. In one article, they write about “bom meledakan kota gaza” (The bombs explode the city of Gaza). What are written below are the headlines of this event. The writer quote the headlines because sometimes to save time, readers only read the headlines and they would get their perception of an event just from reading the headlines.

1. Bom meledakan kota Gaza (the bombs explode the city of Gaza)
(Jambi Express, Januari 1st, 2009:1)

2. 1000 orang terbunuh akibat ledakan bom di Gaza (A thousand people kill as the result of explosion in Gaza)
(Jambi Independent, January 1st, 2009:1)

The two headlines have different sentence forms. Headline (1) is in the form of a simple sentence, unlike most headlines in general that are written in phrases, clauses or incomplete sentences. However, readers do not know what the effect of the explosion is just by reading headline (1). As headlines in general, headline (2) is actually incomplete. It can be rewritten as:
1000 orang [yang] terbunuh akibat ledakan bom di Gaza
(A thousand people kill as the result of bomb’s explosion in Gaza)
This sentence is a complex sentence with an adverbial clause (as the result of explosion). The conjunction ‘as’ (which means ‘when’) in headline (2) shows the time when the first part of the sentence (1000 orang yang terbunuh[ a thousand people kill]) happens. Besides, the presence of the word ‘as’ also shows causal link in which the first event (1000 orang yang terbunuh[ a thousand people kill]) happens as a result of the second one (ledakan bom di Gaza [the bomb’s explosion in Gaza]) so that the readers know the impact of the explosion. The use of this conjunction creates a difference in meaning between the two headlines.
Next, there is a difference in choosing the verbs. In (1), intransitive verb (‘meledakan (explode)’) is used so that the sentence does not have an object and readers do not know what has been damaged by the bombs. However, the sentence has an adverb (in Gaza) and this informs the readers about the place of the incident. In the complex sentence of (2), “1000 orang terbunuh akibat ledakan bom (a thousand people kill as the result of bomb’s explosion)” a transitive verb (kill) is used so that it needs additional information like “ as the result of bomb’s explosion. From this view, the readers know what has been damaged by the bomb explosion besides the thousand people. Furthermore, from the choice of words used as the subjects of the headlines, readers can see that in (1), the reporter focuses more on the cause of the explosion; on the other hand, in headline (2), the reporter focuses more on the people as the victims of the explosion (1000 orang terbunuh) although readers do not know how serious the injury is. Thus, the words used in the subject above show the expressive function of the language. In both headlines the reporters want to express that the bomb explosion has serious effects, but they express it in different ways. In (1), it is shown through the bombs that explode and in (2), it is shown through the number of victims. Besides the expressive function, both headlines have informative function which refers to the news in the sentences as what they are written.
Besides the differences above, there is syntactical similarity; that is, both headlines uses simple present tense in the context of English. In Indonesia version also found that the headline uses present time. There no the word that indicates past or future likes telah and akan. Actually, what is written in the news is just a report of something that happened in the past since at the time the news is written, the event has already happened. Generally, when we write a story that already happened, we use simple past tense instead of simple present tense. In this case, we can see that the use of simple present tense in reporting the news is to give a stress that the evidence is a real fact and people can still see and feel the effect in the present time; that is, the incredible explosion, the injury and the damage.
Conclusion
Thus, from the discussion above, it can be concluded that both Jambi Express and Jambi Independent have syntactic similarity in the headlines; that is, both often use simple present tense to emphasize the reality of the incident and the strong effect that keeps on going in the society though the incident has happened. Both newspapers also use simple future tense with the deletion of the verb so that the verb used is only ‘to infinitive’ to create question of what will happen in the future. The verb deletion is also used in the headlines so that readers have free interpretation of what the complete sentence of the headline is, and thus, would create different interpretation of the meaning.
In spite of all the similarities, the two newspapers also have differences in the linguistic choices, namely in the diction. The linguistic choices made in Jambi Express and in Jambi Independent form different accounts or different linguistic representations of events in the world. The comparison of both newspapers show the relative importance each paper gives to a certain issue in a specific period of time. Therefore, it is very important for reporters to be careful in using language to present their news and to think twice before giving their personal opinion in the news they write since it is through the newspaper that the society get the news about the local, national and international events they need to know. Besides, it is also important for the readers to have correct interpretation about the written news. To avoid wrong interpretation, they can compare an issue written in two different newspapers. Eventually, readers should be aware not to be easily provoked by the news since sometimes the news contains bias opinion.


References:

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Goatly, A. (2000). Critical reading and writing. London: Routledge.

Jakobson, R. (Ed.). (1960). ‘Linguistics and poetics’. In Seboek, T.A. Style in language. Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T. Press.

Jacobs, R.A., Rosenbaum, P.S. (1968). English transformational grammar. Toronto: Xerox
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Leech, Geoffrey. (1974). Semantics. England: Penguin Books Ltd.

Lee, David. (1992). Competing discourses: perspective and ideology in language. London: Longman.

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Montgomery, Martin. (1996). An introduction to language and society. 2nd ed. London: Rutledge.

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