Publication details

The (un)conventional use of the simple past tense in news headlines



Year of publication 2005
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The paper discusses the usage of tenses in news headlines, with a focus on the functions of the simple past tense. It notes the unmarked use of the present tense to conventionally refer to past events and outlines the possible reasons for its use. The marked occurrence of the simple past tense in headlines is identified as (1) the expression of non-recency of a reported event, (2) the backgrounding of a circumstantial event, (3) the marker of an accessed voice, and (4) the effect of the intertextuality of related articles. The past tense in headlines is interpreted as an effort on the part of the writers to redefine the convention-bound headlines into a more reader-oriented style.

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