15 July 2013

Article breakdown

As part of the analysis leading to his answer to the question Is Mentoring Just a Memory?, Mark Nichol of DailyWritingTips defines the components of English-language 'news style' including such terms like 'lede' (or 'lead'), 'inverted pyramid form' and nut'.

The Wikipedia article on 'news style' goes into more detail and explains the differences between a news story and a feature article. It is interesting to observe that this Wikipedia article has parallel versions in several eastern European languages, but only one romance language, namely Portuguese. The reason is that journalism in each culture developed independently before entering a period of global convergence after WWII while continuing to be based on culturally specific traditions, methods, preferences and so forth.

There must be ample material here for a thesis or three on the translation challenges associated with these cultural differences. To begin with, the names for the different parts of an article will only have meaningful equivalents if it can be assumed that the target-language reader is familiar with a comparable breakdown, or taxonomy.

The differences are of similar significance in the various forms of technical journalism that I have encountered throughout my career.

A question in passing. Magazines under the IHS Jane's banner often begin with a 'standfirst' (aka a 'kicker') ending "...., writes (name of journalist or specialist)". I wonder if this device has a more specific name?


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