This book relates the findings of a corpus study conducted between 2008 and 2010 about the way in which some of the most widely read Italian, British, and US American newspapers represented the financial crisis and privatization of the Italian flag carrier, Alitalia. The corpora contain all the articles that were published on this news event by Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times during the six months (August 2008-January 2009) that led to the privatization of Alitalia and its acquisition by a consortium of Italian entrepreneurs coming from different fields of the Italian business community, with a 25% stake held by the largest European airline, the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM. The aim of this work is to bring together different perspectives on the study of the language of the news (especially corpus linguistics and discourse analysis) to provide a thorough understanding of how the same event was represented in the press of three different nations and cultures. The interlinguistic comparison between the Italian press and the English-speaking one provides insight into how Italian issues are dealt with in the foreign media; the intralinguistic comparison between the British and American press shows that quite different discursive and news narrative practices are at play in these two English-speaking contexts, even when the same event is being described. The financial crisis and privatization of Alitalia has been chosen because it was the single most widely covered Italian event in the English-speaking press at the time of data collection. The book is addressed to graduate and undergraduate linguists interested in the interplay between corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and newspaper discourse, but it also tries to be accessible to non-specialist readers who may wish to know more about the crisis and privatization of Alitalia, and how it was represented in the international press. Chapter 1 introduces the role of language corpora by expounding the basic notions of corpus linguistics, for the benefit of non-specialists and undergraduate students. Key concepts like corpus (and different types thereof), collocation, colligation, concordance, semantic prosody and semantic preference are briefly explained, and some of the advantages of building and using corpora for language studies are presented. The chapter ends with some notes on Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS), whose methodology is used throughout the book. Chapter 2 provides some background information about the recent history of Alitalia, the events that led to its financial crisis and privatization, and the reasons why Alitalia’s privatization qualifies as a worthwhile case study for a comparison of newspaper discourse in Italian, British English, and American English. The concluding remarks of the chapter illustrate the structure and design of the Alitalia corpora, and explain the criteria for the selection of the newspapers and the period of time to be analyzed. In Chapter 3, the keywords extracted from the Alitalia corpora are listed, analyzed, and compared. The focus of the chapter is to bring out the different ideologies that, though «invisible to the naked eye» (Partington 2008, 97) of most readers, constitute the foundation on which each corpus (and each newspaper) has built its own representation of the crisis and privatization of Alitalia. Comparisons are made across the corpora and the different newspapers. One specific keyword (piloti/ ‘pilots’), whose frequency is remarkable in all three corpora, is analyzed in depth in order to highlight the attitude of the Italian, British and American press towards Alitalia’s most unionized and powerful workforce. Chapter 4 is about the metaphors used by the newspapers to frame Alitalia’s crisis and privatization. For this chapter, a purely comparative perspective is adopted, so the British and American corpus data are merged. Based on a cognitive perspective, the most widespread sources of metaphor that have Alitalia (or individual aspects of its crisis) as their target are identified. Particular attention is paid to the source domains of WAR and LOVE, which are recognized in the relevant literature as being typically associated with privatization discourse. Chapter 5 is entirely devoted to the Anglicisms identified in the Italian Alitalia corpus. Over 200 different lexical items are identified as Anglicisms or false Anglicisms, especially in the semantic fields of business and air transport logistics. A comparison with relevant reference corpora (an ad hoc newspaper corpus and the CORIS corpus of written Italian) highlights a tendency, on the part of both Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, to use new non-adapted Anglicisms without an explanation, or with an explanation that is incomplete, or in some cases even faulty. We illustrate a series of examples where this use of Anglicisms, while increasing the credibility of some statements, due to their use as technical terms, may actually complicate comprehension of this news story for a number of Italian readers, including educated ones with some competence in English. In particular, the framing of such concepts as ‘hubs’, ‘city airports’ and ‘slots’ by the two major Italian dailies seems to obscure rather than clarify the real stakes in the debate over the role of Milan’s airports of Malpensa and Linate, and Rome’s Fiumicino, in the bankruptcy and restructuring of Alitalia. The conclusions of this book are open-ended: analysts foresee that Alitalia will be acquired by its main shareholder, Air France-KLM, in a matter of years, and several critics speculate that its current financial position is worse than it used to be under public ownership. We have no conclusions to offer in this respect, but it is our hope that this book may serve as a tool for readers to understand news discourse across cultures, and (in the case of undergraduates, and non-specialists generally) come closer to linguistic topics.
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