International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Transitivity Analysis of Newspaper Headlines on Terrorism Attack in Kenya: A Case Study of Westgate Mall, Nairobi
Dr. Nancy Anashia Ong’onda

This is a qualitative study that presents the findings of a linguistic analysis on newspaper headlines on terrorism in Kenya. The paper investigates the application of Halliday’s theory of transitivity in the representation of Al- Shabaab attacks at Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The paper aims to identify and explain how the Al-Shabaab are portrayed and represented through language used in the headlines of newspapers by the reporters. The main question of this paper is how do reporters in Kenya construct the image of Al-Shabaab in a newspaper? To answer this question, the analysis employed Systemic Functional Linguistics and utilizes the framework of transitivity analysis, which identifies ideational meanings realized by grammatical choices. In this research the writer used the descriptive method to study the problem. Documentation method was used to collect data from the Daily Nation and the Standard Newspaper in the year 2013 from22 to 27th September2013. In analyzing the data, the researcher used the following steps, first, reading the headlines collected, second, segmenting the data in form of clauses, third, identifying the types of processes, participants and circumstances, fourth, classifying the clauses into categories and drawing conclusions from the analysis. Newspaper discourse was chosen because it is narrative based and therefore broadly applicable to the notion of transitivity. The analysis locates different perspectives expressed by grammatical choices in the newspaper headlines. There were 24 newspaper headlines collected from the Daily Nation and the Standard Newspaper. The findings show that material and relational processes, dominate the other processes, which indicates that the whole process of terrorism is concerned with actions and events. The analysis reveals the linguistic features that contribute to the construction of negative image of the Al-Shabaab. The findings also show that the grammatical choices in newspaper reports played a role to covertly express the writers' perspectives towards Al-Shabaab, which affects the readers’ opinion making process.

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