Stance markers in television news presentation: Expressivity of eyebrow flashes in the delivery of news

Zhengrui Han 1  and Hongqiang Zhu 1 , 2
  • 1 College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
  • 2 Department of English, FAH, University of Macau, Macau, China
Zhengrui Han and Hongqiang Zhu
  • Corresponding author
  • College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
  • Department of English, FAH, University of Macau, Macau, China
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Abstract

The discourse of broadcast news is shifting toward being more “conversational.” As a consequence, rather than assuming the traditional poker-face style of delivering news on television, news readers as televised personae are becoming more “informal” and “dialogic” in order to better relate to audiences. Eyebrow flashes, as a communicative resource in television news presentation, play an important part in construing the expressiveness of presentation and engaging with audiences. Drawing upon insights from nonverbal communication studies (especially the pragmatics of nonverbal communication) and discourse analysis, this paper explores the pragmatics of eyebrow flashes as a marker of expressivity in news delivery, and the interaction of eyebrow flashes with the verbal context, based on data collected from Chinese broadcast news in English. The analysis shows that eyebrow flashes are widely employed to initiate the theme of the agent in news messages (implicating “I know something”), to emphasize the focus of the news statements (implying “I am thinking now”), and to respond to the attributed statement (indicating “I want to know more”). Therefore, eyebrow flashes function to assist viewers in construing alignment with authors or reporters of news, as well as alignment with audiences. In addition, they serve to distill personal emotion to hybridize the institutional voice of news, thus rendering television news more “watchable” and engaging.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.

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