Feature 1: Naming of Events

Definition and Analysis Method

Analysing the feature “naming of events” was relatively straightforward. My concern with this linguistic feature was to identify and discuss the different ways in which writers refer to the events of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The task was to identify the expressions within the texts that refer to these events. In some cases these were single nouns, and in other cases a noun phrase including determiners, adjectives and prepositional phrases. This raised the question of how much of an expression to count as a naming choice. My procedure was to count the whole noun group without the determiner, that is, the noun head and any accompanying adjectives and adverbials. The following is an example of a naming choice:

British energy giant BP said Tuesday that first-quarter profits rocketed on higher oil prices but admitted that the news was overshadowed by last week’s tragic accident at a rig in the Gulf of Mexico. (Agence France Presse, 27.4.2010, my emphasis)

Here I counted the noun head “accident”, the adjective “tragic” and prepositional phrases of time or place “last week” and “in the Gulf of Mexico”. I carried out an analysis of the length of naming phrases by calculating the average number of words in the naming expressions within each data set. Once I had a set of naming choices for each year, I was further able to analyse them by whether they were generally neutral or generally negative in tone. In the first example above, while I would consider the term “accident” to be a neutral choice on its own, the presence of the adjective “tragic” would suggest a negative shading.

 
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