Journalese is, according to a typical dictionary definition, a derogatory term for a superficial, cliché-ridden and sensationalist style of writing regarded as typical of newspapers.

In a self-reflective, self-critical mood, the journalist Joe Grimm argued that journalese is "neither clichés nor jargon: Journalese is the peculiar language that newspapers have evolved for talking to readers. We write journalese out of habit, sometimes from misguided training, and to sound urgent, authoritative and, well, journalistic. But it doesn't do any of that."

The typical characteristics of journalese are:

  • the search for, and use of, synonyms -- not just to avoid repetition -- even if they are hardly ever used in ordinary speech
  • unusual lexical choice including euphemisms, hyphenated words, and neologisms
  • the use of ellipsis, particularly in headlines
  • one-sentence paragraphs (which, by general consent, are to be avoided in essay-type texts)

A special form of journalese is headlinese ("Mad Cow Talks in Washington", "Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge", "Mounting Problems for Young Couples", "Hospital Sued by Seven Foot Doctors" etc.).

Further reading

  • Fritz Spiegl: Keep Taking the Tabloids. What the Papers Say and How They Say It (1983)

External links

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