The phenomenon of affect in language has recently received some attention from researchers who have focused primarily on its lexical expression. This article examines syntactic manifestations of affect in the lead sentence of Arabic news stories. It addresses the question of the pragmatic motivation for the occasional occurrence of spatiotemporal structures in text-initial position. Empirical analysis reveals that marking affect is one pragmatic function that the text-initial spatiotemporal structure serves in Arabic news stories. The importance of certain sociopolitical events is a crucial factor. The lead sentence acquires an emotive value or interpretation as it exhibits the writer's affective stance toward reported events. Although spatiotemporal structures are used sparingly in text-initial position, they manifest variation in their composition—a possible indication of varying degrees of emotional involvement or intensity. Illustrative examples of this phenomenon explain implications for the communication of affect.
About the author
Esam N. Khalil is an Assistant Professor of linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, Radboud University Nijmegen. He received his Ph.D. in text linguistics from the University of Amsterdam. He specialized in news discourse and has done research on various topics in the area of discourse pragmatics. His recent research appeared in Discourse Studies, Australian Journal of Linguistics, Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics as well as in the proceedings of several conferences.
© Walter de Gruyter