ISSA Proceedings 1998 – Partial Quotes In Headlines And Subheads In Le Monde. An Exploration In Polyphonic Journalistic Writing And Opinion Forming
‘Reported speech’ (RS) in journalistic texts has been the object of linguistic investigations in the last decade. It has taken place in the greater frame of studies of speech and thought presentation (Slembrouck, 1992, Waugh, 1995, Semino et al., 1997), or approached from a more (journalistic) discourse point of view (Geiss, 1987, Zelizer, 1989), with a special interest for the speech-act verb introducing the reported speech (Geiss, 1987, Gruber, 1993, May, 1995).
In an often quoted study of French journalistic discourse, Waugh (1995) highlights the presence of what she calls a combined form of ‘indirect-direct’ speech, of high frequency in the French press, and particularly in Le Monde. Example (1), taken from another broadsheet Le Figaro, is illustrative of such a form:
Il avait demandé au premier ministre <au nom de la transparence>, de lever le secret-défense, et expliqué, évoquant François Mitterrand, que cette <triste histoire> ne correspondait pas <à l’idée> qu’il se faisait <de lui sur ce plan> (Le Figaro, 9 avril 1997, ‘Les écoutes brouillent les socialistes’)
The relative sizes of indirect and direct stretches may vary considerably from case to case; furthermore, this ‘partial quoting’ procedure is not restricted to an indirect speech frame, but is also frequent with forms of NRSA (Narrative Report of Speech Act), as pointed out by Semino et al. (1997) for English reporting. Semino et al. pay special attention to these small stretches of direct quotation, which they call ‘Q-forms of speech presentation’[ii], and stress on the one hand their importance and convenience in journalistic writing, on the other their potential to lead to bias:
‘They allow the reporter to foreground selected parts of the original utterance without having to provide a lengthy quotation. They achieve vividness and precision without sacrificing the need for brevity. Clearly, such forms also lend themselves to partial or slanted representations of other people’s voices, since the original speaker’s words are embedded, both grammatically and semantically, within the reporter’s own discourse.’ (31)
This grammatical and semantical dependency, combined with the limited length of discourse, makes it difficult to refer to these forms as direct speech. I will argue that it also does not do credit to the special function these partial quotes often have. Looking back at example (1), we see that quotations in the French press are marked by low, double quotation marks and italics.
In headlines, subheadings and introductory paragraphs no italics are used, which leads to a potential ambiguity. The quotation marks could then refer to either a real quote or to a special use or meaning attached or given to the words quoted. In the last case, they would be so-called ‘scare quotes’. This potential ambiguity is essentially present when the quote is limited to one or two words:
[h23] Soupçonné de <favoritisme>, le maire de Nantes et président du groupe PS à l’Assemblée plaide la <bonne foi>
(sh26) Le président sud-africain critique le <gendarme du monde> qui <n’a pas de morale>
In (2), only the second fragment of discourse between Q-marks was confirmed as a real quote. In (3) ‘Gendarme du monde’, referring to the United States, is used by the journalist in the text of the article between quotation marks but without italics. It is also used by Nelson Mandela in his declaration (or at least translated as such), so that it could be given both functions.
In this paper[i], I aim to show that partial quotations in headings, especially those limited to one or two words, can use their identity of form with ‘scare quotes’ to maintain a welcome ambiguity. When the text of the article confirms that the words have been said, the ‘evaluative’ or ‘attitude’ function of partial quotations, as described by Weizman (1984), seems to be generally present, staging a particular form of polyphony (Bakhtine, 1973, Ducrot, 1984). The process of the ‘entextualization’ of small stretches of discourse (Bauman & Briggs, 1990, Silverstein & Urban, 1996), through decontextualization and recontextualization, as observed in a corpus of headings from Le Monde, will reveal some aspects of the relation between journalistic writers and social power.
Quoting in journalistic discourse
Zelizer (1989) states that approaching quoting practices can allow us to ‘understand the large arena of journalistic behavior, and its relationship to society’ (370). Quoting is the one device that reflects directly on sourcing/evidentiality, hence it increases the authority, or legitimacy, of statements into which quotes are embedded. On the one hand, quotes lend factuality, precision, credibility and truthfulness[iii]. To quote is also to lend authority to largely unspecified sources behind the news: ‘By relying on quotes from those who are supposedly ‘involved’, journalists emphasize a posture of technical neutrality’ (373), but, Zelizer adds, ‘journalists might use quotations in a way to reinforce different aspects of their own authority’(374). So, on the other hand, quotes are testimonies to the journalist’s interface with events, ‘actors’ and institutions. Quoting can also be seen as a testimony to the journalist’s ‘creative’ handling of someone else’s discourse. Mouillaud & Tétu (1989) reminds us that what the modern press is using as raw material (‘matière première’) for its writing is most of the time not a factual reality, but an already existing discourse, social and often institutionalized. So journalistic practice is essentially a practice of ‘entextualization’, that is ‘the process of rendering discourse extractable, of making a stretch of linguistic production into a unit – a text – that can be lifted out of its interactional setting’ (Bauman & Briggs, 1990:73). Following Bauman and Briggs, I will consider decontextualization and recontextualization to be two aspects of the same process of entextualization: ‘Because the process is transformational, we must now determine what the recontextualized text brings with it from its earlier context(s) and what emergent form, function, and meaning it is given as it is recentered’ (75).
Recontextualization will lead to polyphony, as it will present the ‘voices’ of the speaker and the journalist in various degrees of distinction or fusion. ‘To decontextualize and recontextualize a text is [thus] an act of control, and in regard to the differential exercise of such a control the issue of social power arises’, say Bauman & Briggs (1990:76), with a reference to Bourdieu.
Let us look at this process when applied to journalistic quoting. In the two phases of the process, we can globally describe the writer’s various degree of exercising his freedom. In the first place, selecting a quote will be done according to criteria of relevancy and saliency in relation to the topic of the news, and depending on the speaker being himself either the topic, or being just involved, as actor, in the event that constitutes the topic. On that level the freedom of the writer is maybe the most limited, as his choice is a result of the newsworthiness of the information and the newspaper’s genre.
In editing the original speech, designating the speaker and qualifying his speech act, the journalistic writer[iv] acts quite freely, within stylistic and ethical constraints. The choice of a reporting mode, direct speech, indirect speech or any other forms, will most probably be related to the content of the utterance, and the goal of the reporting; designating the speaker(s) will follow other criteria, relative to the source of the quoted discourse, institutional or private, open or secret, the status of the source and the content of the discourse. The choice of the speech act verb could be traced to the illocutionary nature of the original speech act, to some prosodic information perceived directly by the journalist (or taken over from other news reports) or to inferences from the content, not to mention personal stylistic preferences.
The preceding remarks do not mean that we can always, as much as we would like to, discover why and how the writer made his choices. Even going back to the original discourse and comparing it to the reporting does not univocally clarify these choices.[v] In the case of partial quotes, especially the very short ones, even a ‘simple’ reader of the news can sometimes wonder why the journalist has chosen to quote such a limited stretch of discourse, as a longer quote would have been more informative on the subject and contributed more to the credibility and liveliness of the report.
Partial quotation and evaluation
Weizman (1984) makes a distinction between two functions of quotes: a reliability function, toward the addressee/reader to assure him of the reliability of the reporter, and an attitudinal function that refers to a whole variety of attitudes of the reporter towards the utterance, the quoted source or the event, ‘from reservation to ironic rejection’ (41). Attitude utterances do have one common feature, she writes,‘the incompleteness of the utterance in quotation marks’ (42). Weizman describes other possible markers of this attitudinal function: the presence of objective and subjective affirmations in a mixed form of reported speech, for instance indirect speech with a quote, the presence of ‘emotionally-loaded words’ within the quotation (connotations), the length of the discourse unit within the quotation marks, etc.
Her findings are confirmed by Gruber (1993). In his analysis of evaluative devices in journalistic reports, Gruber describes explicit and implicit forms of evaluation on the part of the journalist. An explicit evaluation can take the form of scare quotes, an implicit one, the form of a short quote. In agreement with Weizman, he concludes:
‘The smaller the reported discourse unit is, the more the function of the quotation marks shifts from “reliability function” to the “attitude function”’ (472)
The empirical study whose results I will present in the following section is based on and limited to one French broadsheet, Le Monde, and to a special type of discourse, the headings of articles. The choice of Le Monde is motivated by the frequency of quotations, and of partial quotations, in articles (See Waugh, 1995, Mouillaud & Tétu, 1989). In comparison with such other broadsheets as Le Figaro, or Libération, most events are covered by Le Monde, in many more words and quotes.[vi] The choice to analyse headings is related to the leading function of headings, since reading headings is what we usually do before reading the article itself or moving on to another part of the newspaper. Often, our knowledge of facts is based on a superficial reading of headings, as can be some of our opinions on facts, events and people. A personal experience was also essential in choosing this particular corpus. Reading, in the winter of 1998, the following headline in Le Monde:
[h53] Martine Aubry <se donne du temps> pour la politique de la ville
my first impression was of a biased heading, as, to my eyes, it seemed to be giving the wrong impression of someone known to be a hard-working, very professional (woman) politician. In this subjective, and possibly illogical reaction of mine, the use of quotation marks without italics played a part. Finding out that, in the text of the article, this attributed act or attitude was a wish (‘elle souhaite <se donner du temps>’) partly confirmed the biased impression I got at first reading.
The data: Partial quotes in headlines and subheads[vii] in Le Monde 47 issues of Le Monde provided 142 examples of headings with 160 partial quotes (most had one quote, 11 had between 2 and 5 quotes) of the following structure[viii]:
– an explicit designation of the quoted speaker (where the speaker could refer to a person or an institution)
– a speech-act verb
– a partial quote, equal to or smaller than a clause
The selection of the headings was partially random: during the period October 97-March 98, 3 to 4 issues per week of Le Monde were systematically searched for headings with partial quotes. The first observation was that partial quotes in headings were closely related to a certain topic or domain: only 3 of the 142 headings did not have a political topic (one religious topic, 2 referred to ‘faits divers’/‘news in brief’). 117 referred to French politics or affairs with a political dimension, 21 to international politics. In 90% of the cases the speaker was an important actor on the political stage; in the remaining 10%, it was a ‘second-rank’ actor who played an important role in the represented event or affair, with important political issues in the present time (financial and political scandals) or in the past and present (Papon trial). In Mouillaud and Tétu’s terms, the newspaper is handling the voice that is speaking not as a ‘source’ but (following Greimas’s terminology) as a ‘actant’, whose ‘saying’ is ‘doing’ (le dire est un faire): ‘L’actant a un intérêt stratégique à produire un discours et celui-ci peut être considéré comme une intervention dans le jeu des interactions de l’espace public’(131), they write, referring to Habermas.
Two basic structures were found in the headings, illustrated by (5) and (6):
(h25) Jacques Chirac a indiqué que la France soutiendrait les <efforts> tunisiens
(h12) M.Chirac insiste sur la nécessité d’un dialogue social <efficace et confiant>
The first, a form of indirect speech with a quote, was found in 24 of the 142 occurrences. The second, in the terms of Semino et al. (1997) a NRSATQ, that is a narrative report of speech-act with Topic and Quotation, was found in the remaining 118 occurrences. There seems to be a preference for the second structure, which shows a greater integration of the different voices heard. In 7 of the occurrences, it was the speech-act verb that appeared between quotation marks, as in:
(h62) M.Pasqua <dénie> à M. Chirac le droit de ratifier le traité d’Amsterdam sans référendum
Prior to any analysis, the nature of the quotation marks had to be verified. In other words: was the quote in the headine a real quote, that is, could it be found as quote in the text?
Only 3 quotes could not be found in the article, 2 of these were found in another article on the same page. 7 recurred in the article as ‘scare quotes’, most but not all in a quotation. One of them illustrated, in retrospective, a case of referential ambiguity,
(h92) Amnesty International dénonce la <terreur en Casamance> as the discourse between quotation marks was found to be the title of a written report by Amnesty International[ix].
Only 1 quote was found in a canonical form of indirect speech, with neither quotation marks nor italics. 126 of the 160 partial quotes were found as partial quotations in the text. So, in my (limited) data, the real quotes were largely dominant, and the ambiguity of the marks, especially with short quotes, was more subjective than could have been thought originally. However, this does not say anything yet about the attitude function of the quotes.
In order to cast light on the functioning of partial quotes in headings, I chose to look first at the quote, that is at what was quoted and the relation between the length of the quote and the content.
In the second place, I looked at the frame in which the quotation was placed in the heading. Besides the type of speaker – as said above, it was dominantly a political actor -the verb used by the journalist or editor was going to be of some importance, as has been shown in different recent studies.
Studying political bias in news magazines, Geis (1987) examined among several linguistic modes of bias, the ‘attribution bias’ that concerns the choice of verbs of reported speech. In a data base of 534 cases of reported speech, Geis found 489 occurrences of verbs and 133 different verbal items, a great number of which were what he called ‘high volatility’ verbs, verbs that tend to vary widely in how they are perceived by subjects. Usually those verbs are not standard verbs of reported speech and tend to have a negative affect, with the following potential consequences:
‘It should be clear that journalists can enliven their reports by using affectively charged verbs of reported speech or verbs that are high in volatility, but they pay a price, which is that they will be a corresponding increase in potential for bias (the negative affect of volatile verbs) and a corresponding decrease in clarity.’(130)
Geis’s findings are confirmed by empirical studies by Gruber (1993) and May (1995). Burger (1997) found a similar variety of speech-act verbs in French journalistic discourse: about 300 different verbs in a data of 1300 occurrences of reported speech in Le Monde. The most neutral verbs were used with DS; the marked verbs, more action-describing verbs than strictly speech-act verbs, were found with IS, NRSA and other (mixed) forms, confirming observations made for English/American (Geiss, 1987, May, 1995) and for German (Gruber, 1993) journalistic texts. As the studies mentioned here show, the great diversity of verbs is not only the result of a stylistic choice (bringing variation) but reflects the possible ways offered to the journalist to transmit either an evaluation by the speaker cited of the fact or event he was referring to, evaluation taken over by the journalist, or an evaluation by the journalist of the speaker or of the event/fact that is reported. In the case of headings, we could add an editorial decision, that is to stress some aspect of the information, or to arouse the interest of the reader and invite him to read further.
Finally, as the quotes of the headings were in about 95% of the cases found in their ‘original’ frame in the article, it was tempting to compare heading and text, in order to describe the process of de/recontextualization.[x]
67 of the quotes consisted of one-word quote (33 Nouns, 16 Verbs, 14 adjectives, 4 adverbs). The rest presented two or more words of which 61 were NP’s, 17 VP’s, and only 10 were clauses such as
< alors que la croissance est de retour>
Out of context, the adjectives and nouns that were quoted have a clear positive or negative meaning. There are two potentially neutral adjectives (personnelle, plurielle[xi]) as opposed to 13 clearly positive/negative ones: idéologique, validée, impartiale, équitable, etc. Nouns show a similar distribution out of context: 10 had a positive meaning/connotation; 16 were negative and only 5 could be said a priori neutral.
– écoute +[xii]
– dialogue +
– débat +
– complot –
– erreur –
– instructions N
– repentance +
– efforts +
– insultes –
– infractions –
– arrogance –
– barbarie –
In context, the positive affect could be nuanced or denied as in the following examples:[xiii]
(h5) La direction du PCF [French communist party] reconnaît un
(h94) L’accusé [Papon] a, une nouvelle fois, mis en avant ses <efforts> pour sauver des juifs
The quotations in examples (10) and (11) could be qualified as polyphonic: we hear the voice of the PCF and of Papon, and also the voice of the journalist that seems to express his doubts about the possibility of a debate within the PCF and about the nature of Papon’s effort to save the lives of Jews. (10) and (11) are examples of evaluation by the journalist, of the implicit kind that Gruber mentioned in his study.
The verbs presented as quotations are also mostly polarized:
regretter, bloquer, approfondir, se donner du temps, regarder en face, dénier, (vouloir) dialoguer, dialoguer, etc.
7 out of the 16 found in the data had a double function as quote and speech-act verb:
(h9) H.Emmanueli <regrette> la hausse des taux de la Banque de France
(h62) M.Pasqua <dénie> à M.Chirac le droit de ratifier le traité d’Amsterdam sans référendum
(h84) E.Balladur <dialogue> avec les électeurs sur l’emploi
Note that this double function gives a ‘performative’ dimension to the predicate. It has also the same effect as the one described for nouns and adjectives. It illustrates the existence in the quoted utterance of two voices, the second one, that of the journalist seeming to express a reserve or doubt about the sincerity, the well-foundedness or the reality of the (verbal) act, or, on the contrary, to emphasize the sincerity, the well-foundedness and the reality of the verbal act.
Two-words or more quotes
NP’s showed a similar classification to the nouns, with a clear positive or negative interpretation/connotation (37 positive/negative) or a neutral or undetermined meaning (24). This last group is rather greater than in the one-word group. This would indirectly confirm Weizman’s hypothesis: the longer the fragment of discourse between quotation marks is the less marked, positively or negatively it appears to be. Examples are:
– signe fort +
– respect de l’autre +
– seconde équipe N
– la cohérence permanente +
– sauvagerie extrêmement froide –
– mythe gaulliste +/-?
– situation ubuesque –
– bonne foi +
‘Mythe gaulliste’ is an example of ambiguous value: ‘mythe’ can refer to a construction that has no reality, that is, lies or delusions. It can also refer to or be an expression of the grandeur of someone or something.
The use of quotation (scare) marks around a small unit such as an adjective, a noun or even a noun phrase captures the reader’s attention immediately. The positive or negative connotation is (potentially) reviewed in the light of the context, mixing information derived from the way the speaker is referred to, the topic, the addressee and the speech-act verb. ‘Any of these ingredients can have an effect on how the citizenry will evaluate such a report’ says Geis (126). However, if the reader’s view on the topic and the speaker can have a bearing on his interpretation of the report, the evaluation of the affect of the verb (out of context) will not be influenced as much by personal political opinions. Let us now look at the verbs.
The verbal frame
There were 67 different speech-act verbs in the data. Canonical ‘speech-act’ verbs represent about 30% of the verbal items and also 30% of the occurrences. The other verbs are less neutral speech-act verbs, and tend to become/to be action-describing verbs. These observations confirm what has been said about introductory verbs of reported discourse in journalistic discourse.
The most frequent verbs are:
1. estimer (que) 12
2. dénoncer 11
3. vouloir + verb 9
4. accuser 6
5. souhaiter (que) 6
6. appeler à 5
7. affirmer (que) 5
8. assurer (que) 5
Just looking at this small list makes the problem of the verb classification obvious. Only one could be said neutral, estimer (que), though this neutrality seems to weaken in NRSATQ structures (for instance in:‘X estime <scandaleux> le comportement du premier ministre’). All the other verbs are susceptible of different interpretations, and hence categorisations. For Mouillaud & Tétu, one way to assess the epistemic judgment (‘le croire vrai’) is to modalise the verb phrase in the main clause, which they describe as happening in 3 major ways:
– distance. Ex: affirmer, prétendre
– agreement. Ex: souligner, faire ressortir
– neutrality. Ex: dire, déclarer
Such a classification (illustrated with a few examples) is not based on an empirical study, and interpretations of, for instance ‘affirmer’, could vary according to the speaker or the context.[xiv] Geis proposes a classification of verbs of positive/negative affect and low/high volatility on the basis of an experiment. Verbs could also be classified according to the illocutionary act they perform, if this act could be consensually determined. The problem is that the verb’s value is mostly determined out of context, or, in Geis’s study, in a constructed context that is the same for all verbs submitted to a native speaker for evaluation; then, this interpretation has to be confronted with the context of the data, leading to adjustments of the first evaluation or ambiguity judgments.[xv] As no cross-analysis of the data will be proposed here, I will limit myself to a global classification of verbs and to some examples, mainly to illustrate the diversity:
– ‘neutral’ speech-act verbs/verbs of ‘thinking’
croire (que) 1
déclarer (que) 5
estimer (que) 12
I found 26 verbs in that category. As to the others (41), a first group could be qualified as verbs of argumentation:
A second group would be the group of action verbs:
appeler à 5
ATQ occurrences were globally marked verbs; speech-act verbs used in a ISQ structure tend to be more neutral, with few exceptions such as ‘prétendre que’ which is a explicit evaluation by the journalist:[xvi]
avouer que 1
affirmer que 2
assurer que 4
déclarer que 1
estimer que 8
prétendre que 1
From text to heading
Three features will be taken into consideration in the comparison between the quote and its context in the heading and the quote in the text: the designation of the speaker, the introductory verb and the quote itself.
39 headings were found in their article without significant changes. 103 headings showed some transformation. Following the natural process of reading, I will go from heading to text.
[sh20]: Lors d’une soirée souvenir à Paris, dont l’émotion a été avivée par la coïncidence avec le procès Papon, Algériens ayant subi la répression et Français présents sur les lieux des massacres ont raconté la <sauvagerie extrêmement froide> des policiers a(rticle): <C’était d’une sauvagerie extrêmement froide>, témoigne J-L Péninou, journaliste….
In most cases, we could speak of a metonymic substitution that emphasizes the status of the speaker, qualitatively or quantitatively speaking.
The quote was found in the article
– without a speech-act verb, in a Direct Discourse quote, or similar forms such as ‘Propos’ or ‘Interview’[xvii]34
– with the same S-A verb 25
– with a different S-A verb 75
The changes in verbs are related to the form of RS that is used in the text:
exclure (NRSAT) becomes expliquer que with ISQ
démentir becomes affirmer with DS and negation
or to a different speaker and/or a different voice:
[h35] les Etats-Unis accusent Israël de pénaliser les <intérêts américains dans la région>
a: le chef du gouvernement israélien (…) devait s’entendre dire clairement que sa politique porte désormais <atteinte aux intérêts américains dans la région>
As expected, given the ‘leading function’ of headings, most changes show a stronger, less nuanced formulation in the heading than in the text. For instance, approuver becomes refuser de polémiquer, saluer becomes mêler compliments et conseils fermes, or as in the following example:
[h70] M. Jospin salue <l’approfondissement de la démocratie> au Maroc
a: Le premier ministre a indiqué qu’il voit <avec intérêt le constant approfondissement de la démocratie marocaine> conduit <sous l’impulsion> de Hassan II.
The quote shows different kinds of modifications:
– an argumentatively significant reduction
[h19]: <L’Etat ne saurait tout faire> pour la coopération, a déclaré M. Josselin
a: Charles Josselin a déclaré, qu’en matière de coopération, <l’Etat seul ne saurait tout faire>
[h77]t: A la Havane, le pape exhorte Cuba à <s’ouvrir au monde>
a: Il devait surtout marteler: <Puisse Cuba s’ouvrir au monde et le monde à Cuba>
[h110]t: M. Suharto appelle les Indonésiens à <se serrer la ceinture>
a: < Portons le fardeau ensemble>, a-t-il ajouté lors d’une cérémonie. <En tant que nation, nous devons nous serrer la ceinture>
– a transformation from an active voice (with agent) in the heading to a passive voice in the article
[h48]: M. Seillères dénonce la <brutalité> du premier ministre
a: E-A. Seillière affirme, dans un entretien au Point du samedi 29 novembre, que la réduction du temps de travail a été <imposée au pays avec une extrême désinvolture et une parfaite brutalité>.
In the heading of (21), X calls Y to do P; in the article, X says that Y knows that he (Y) has to do P.
[h122] Dans l’Oise, Jean-François Mancel appelle le FN à faire <partie de la droite de demain>
a: <… le Front national a enlevé tout ce qui peut nous hérisser sur le plan des valeurs. Ils se rendent compte qu’ils doivent devenir une partie de la droite de demain>
The distance marked by the journalist towards the quote and the speaker in the heading can become explicit in the article:
[sh94] L’accusé a, une nouvelle fois, mis en avant ses <efforts> pour sauver des juifs, en faveur desquels il affirme avoir mené sept types différents d’interventions
a: Le plaidoyer tient .. d’une litanie récapitulative, convoi par convoi, de ce que l’accusé considère comme des <efforts> en faveur des juifs, qu’il qualifie d’<incessants> et <soutenus>”.
In example (13), the quotation was perceived as polyphonic and potentially ironical:
[h82] Edouard Balladur <dialogue> avec les électeurs sur l’emploi In the article, ‘dialogue’ appears as a noun in a long quote:
a: Son ambition est, selon ses propres termes, de <changer la politique et de restituer à l’échange, au dialogue, toute la place qu’ils doivent…>
In the rest of the text, it is mentioned several times that E. Balladur (a former prime minister) listened: ‘Pendant trois heures, il a écouté…, Edouard Balladur a donc écouté…’, and it is announced that, a week or so later, ‘il sera en mesure de répondre, c’est-à-dire de s’engager sur certaines demandes..’. On the one hand, the journalist put stress on ‘dialogue’ in the heading, as a result of its double function; on the other, in the article, we find a recurrent mention of the speaker listening and announcing his answers for later.
There is no way to know with certainty if the use of ‘dialogue’ in the headline was intended with a certain irony, but this possibility cannot be excluded.
Polyphony of a third kind
Two voices are heard in the headings with partial quotes: the speaker and the journalist/editor’s voices. In the headings with short quotes, limited to one or two words, a third ‘voice’ can be heard, which seems to be generated by the combination of the words quoted and one element of the context, the speaker, the topic, the addressee, or something else. This voice speaks in simplified and stereotypical terms, staging the ‘actors’ in a easily recognizable way. It refers to the collective memory, through collocations and associations of terms. I will first give some examples, with a brief explanation. The first word is the one quoted in the heading; the second word or group of words is involved in the third voice’s ‘discourse’:
débat – PCF
(The French Communist Party is renowned for having until very recently refused to debate about its history and its inheritage)
idéologique – La Droite (about Gauche)
(The accusation of being ideological or acting in an ideological manner is mainly directed from the Right to the Left, but also against extreme Right that can been accused of ideological behaviour)
complot – Patronat vs./Gouvernement/Syndicats
(Illustration of a dominant feature of French political life, which favours confrontation as opposed to consensus)
impartial – Justice/France
(One of many recurrent discussions)
rénovateur – Le Pen
(For most readers, these cannot be equated)
exclusion – Chirac
(One of the catch-words of the presidential campaign of Chirac, one word that is said to have made him win the presidential elections, and two years later, lose the general elections. The word ‘exclusion’ to refer to the general situation of the Jews in France during the Second World War, as was the case in the heading, is somewhat anachronistic)
souveraineté – France
(No comments needed about that one)
mensonges/efforts – Papon
(Opinion shared by most French)
This third ‘voice’ would be the voice of public opinion’s, the voice of the ‘doxa.’[xviii] That this voice is heard mostly in/through the short quotes brings us back to the fundamental question: what is so special about those partial quotes and how can we describe their function, as opposed to the function of canonical forms of reported discourse, direct speech or indirect speech?
I will first propose a careful conclusion concerning the use of partial quotes in headings in Le Monde. More data and intersubjective verification of interpretations would be needed to confirm it. I will then try to summarize in a metaphor the function of partial quotes and their argumentative dimension.
The use of partial quotes in headings in Le Monde seems to be essentially limited to political articles and to quoting important ‘actors’ in the political field; consequently, partial quotes could be seen as an expression of the interface between journalist and establishment, and more particularly, of the power of the journalist to dispose of ‘public discourse’ as he ‘likes’. In the French situation, as described by Mouillaud and Tétu (1989), the political system and the journalistic system are in ‘close symbiosis’, which is not only political but also linguistic:
‘La véritable complicité en effet n’est pas seulement celle de la <sympathie politique>, elle est beaucoup plus profonde: en reprenant les petites phrases ou le silences, en attendant conférences de presse et communiqués, en fixant le regard des lecteurs sur les mêmes événements au même moment, la presse joue le jeu de qui produit les petites phrases, les conférences de presse, les communiqués.’ (40)
Mouillaud & Tétu describe quotation marks as ambivalent operators, whose function changes if they are perceived as belonging to the fragment of discourse or to the utterance that introduces the fragment. In the first case, the fragment is perceived as ‘full’ and the quotation marks represent the frame of a painting; in the second case, the fragment is perceived as ‘open’, and the quotation marks serve as a window frame[xix]:
‘Lorsque le fragment est perçu comme <plein>, il tend à appartenir à l’énoncé du journal; comme fragment <ouvert>, il donne sur un autre plan que celui du journal, le plan du discours d’origine; celui-ci est perçu comme s’il s’étendait au-delà de la citation, au-delà des limites du fragment. (…) Cette forme de citation est un hybride. (…) Sous cette forme (qui est la forme privilégiée du Monde), le journal est polyphonique: une chambre d’échos traversée de voix multiples, une étoile d’où partent des chemins divergents. Le regard ricoche sur les fragments guillemettés et se diffracte en de multiples éclats.’(1989:141)
Keeping this metaphorical frame, one could say that the recontextualization of the (reported) discourse can result in either a painting in a frame, that blends more or less well into the wall (the stretch of discourse is then perceived as ‘full’), or in a window (the discourse will then be perceived as ‘empty’). In headings, longer quotes are more like paintings, incomplete and retouched paintings in most cases; short quotes, limited to one or two words, are more like windows. The short quotes, in the headings I have looked at, referred to an original (quoted) discourse, but in such a way that they also conveyed an evaluation of the journalist that seemed to keep alive a public opinion on the speaker or on the event. The window allows a glimpse on the outside world, but can also reflect the reader’s own face, that is the beliefs and opinions that he shares with his social group, and, with the media’s help, is forced to keep on sharing. In a way, short quotes deprive the speaker even more of his discourse than we might think at first, as it is given back to the community of writers and readers, to the voice of the ‘doxa’.
[i] This study represents part of a larger research on journalistic reporting being done at the Free University in which MA students have been participating since 1996. Cf. Burger (1997) and Mendonças Dias (1997).
[ii] Those RS-forms are almost restricted to journalistic written discourse. They are also quite rare in spoken discourse where they will be marked by a metadiscourse expression (‘I quote’, ‘his words’). The hand and fingers signs will be mostly associated with what is called ‘scare quotes’. See later in this paper.
[iii] Restrictions to that credibility function are often mentioned, as in Zelizer (1989:372): ‘Expectations held by the journalists, however, that news-discourse will clarify events to audiences through the story-telling devices they use (i.e. Carey, 1986) are undermined by journalistic reliance on quotes. Rather than clarify discourse, quoting practices blur its spatial and temporal parameters. News-quotes are generally anonymous (as in ‘experts said’) and uncentered (as ‘he said that she said that they said’). They are also recontextualized.’
[iv] The final text may show adjustments from the hand of the sub-editor or the editor; this will most probably be the case with headings.
[v] Mendonça Dias (1997) points out the differences between a transcript of a television programme with Jacques Chirac and its coverage inthree French broadsheets. A recent look at the choice of the introductory verbs (Torck, 6th International Pragmatics Conference, 1998) in the same corpus shows some possible influence of the context. For instance, the choice of ‘déplorer’ as speech-act verb, seems to be related to a repeated utterance ‘ce n’est pas bien’; ‘ajouter que’ to the presence in the cotext of words such as ‘également’, ‘deuxièmement’, etc.; ‘préciser’ could be induced by the occurrence of an interpolated clause in the original speech; ‘marteler impérieusement’ to multiple repetition of utterances as ‘ce que je veux’ and ‘on ne peut pas’, etc.
[vi] The coverage of Chirac’s television talk mentioned in note 5 was realized as 1 article and 29 occurrences of RS by Libération, 3 articles and 35 occurrences of RS by Le Figaro and 4 articles and 192 occurrences of RS by Le Monde.
[vii] Long articles often have, besides a headline and a subhead, an introductory paragraph usually printed in bold. Introductory paragraphs (called ‘chapeau’ in French) follow the same typographic rules (no italic). In the following I will refer to headings, though examples will be qualified as h or sh.
[viii] This selection does not cover all the possibilities of quoting in headings. There are many more quotes appearing in headings in the 47 issues of Le Monde I have prospected, occurring in structures suc as:
– pour X, selon Y (for X, according to X)
– no speaker is mentioned
Une politique du tout-répression: <Enfermez-les et jetez la clé>(5/2/98)
– a speaker is mentioned with a full quote:
Brigitte Engerer: <La sonorité d’un Cortot ou d’un Neuhaus, c’est cela la technique>(17/2/98) (Page Culture)
– there is a reference to the speaker, but no speech-act verb:
La <souffrance intime>de la femme du Prix Nobel italien Dario Fo (20/2/98)
[ix] We will see in a later section of this paper the frequency of metonymic substitution in headings. Example (8) does not fall under this category in my opinion, but is the result of a transformation of suppression applied to (something like) ‘Amnesty International dénonce dans un rapport intitulé “La terreur en Casamance” la situation (tragique) que connaît cette région du Sénégal’.
[x] I am implicitly making the assumption that the writing of the article chronologically precedes the writing of the title. In the analysis I will follow the ‘natural’ process of reading.
[xi] In the context of the heading, this adjective has a quite recent ‘new’ connotation. It has been used to refer to the left-‘coalition’ government of Lionel Jospin which includes communists, various kinds of socialists and ecologists (since June 1997). The ‘gouvernement <pluriel>’ could be interpreted as neutral or with a positive or a negative connotation depending on the reader’s own political opinions.
[xii] In the plural form, ‘les écoutes’ could have a negative connotation, as a French reader easily could relate this word to various scandals of the last ten years, in particular, ‘l’affaire des écoutes téléphoniques de l’Elysée’ when various journalists and well-known persons in the 80’s had their telephone conversations recorded and listened to on orders from the highest level. In the singular form, it would be associated with an open and productive attitude.
[xiii] As put by Geis (1987:131) in his study of speech-act verbs: “… a judgment about the affect of the verb of [these] sentences is not meant as a measure of the affect of the sentence that contains it”.
[xiv] In the occurrences of ‘affirmer (que)’, we find speakers as different (on a ‘credibility scale’) as Nelson Mandela, Pol Pot and Elisabeth Guigou, Minister of Justice.
[xv] An extensive study of contexts in which these verbs tend to appear would certainly be necessary in order to classify them. In my opinion, it would mostly cast light on the newspaper or journalist’s style, and would probably not allow generalisations to other types of texts.
[xvi] The speaker was ‘le régime de Phnom Penh’.
[xvii] With ‘Propos’ and ‘Interview’, there are usually no quotation marks (with the exception of the beginning or the end of the article) and no italics.
[xviii] The word ‘doxa’ (Barthes, 1975) would be appropriate, as it covers more than public opinion, that is, in Barthes’s words: ‘La Doxa, c’est l’Opinion publique, l’Esprit majoritaire, le Consensus petit-bourgeois, la Voix du Naturel, la Violence du Préjugé’ (51). Angenot (1989:894) describes a component of the doxa, the ‘idéologème’, that refers to expressions, collocations, set phrases, stereotypes, etc. The ‘idéologème’, in a moment of social discourse, is malleable, dialogic and polyphonic. Its meaning and acceptibility are the result of its migrations through discourse and ideology: ‘il se réalise dans les innombrables décontextualisations et recontextualisations auxquelles il est soumis’.
[xix] Note that it applies to quotations in general, and not specifically quotations in headings.
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