Functions Of Metatextual Inclusions In Journalistic Text (On English And Russian Languages)


The article deals with the concepts of metatextuality and reflexivity, implemented in the journalistic text, from the standpoint of modern linguistics. The study of metatextuality and metatext (as a means of its implementation) is today a topical issue in philological science. For the past decades, the concepts of metatextuality and metatext have attracted the attention of many scientists in linguistics, semiotics, cultural studies and literature. But there is no unity in the interpretation of these concepts among these studies. Now there is a tendency to study the status of subjects of written communication as carriers of certain semantic positions, to find out the ways of influence on the addressee and to consider the special aspects of the actualization of dialogical links in various types of text. The appearance of reflexivity in texts led to the concept of metatextuality. The author of the article gives a brief overview of the main points of researches in this field: the appearance and development of the concept of metatextuality, the definition of the metatext, its functional features, the types of metatexts. The author explores and analyzes the metatextual insertions of journalistic texts on the material of well-known English and Russian online media (CNN, The New York Times, New York Post, Vedomosti,,, makes conclusions about their functions.

Keywords: Metatextualitymetatextfunctionlinguisticsmediacomment


The concept of metatextuality appeared in the 20th century. Golubkov (2001) in his works indicates the presence of metatextual elements in memoiristic narratives in French literature of the 17th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the first attempts at theoretical understanding of phenomena close to the modern understanding of metatextuality belong to the theorist of German Romanticism, Friedrich Schlegel, who first proposed the term “poetry of poetry” (as cited in Golubkov, 2001). At the heart of the modern concept of metatextuality is the MM Bakhtin’s idea of the dialogue. The scientist emphasizes dialogue, considers that it penetrates all aspects of human life: speech, consciousness, interrelations. Currently, there are quite a large number of works directly or indirectly devoted to the phenomenon of metatextuality in various fields of humanities (Prikhoda, 2019).

Problem Statement

Modern science is showing an increased interest in the test. The problem of metatextuality is today one of the most pressing. Initially, the study of this issue began with the text of the artistic genre, which, as we know, as a product of figurative knowledge of reality, reflects the author's picture of the world. The image of reality is formed in the consciousness of the perceiving subject by sensory perception of the surrounding reality and a number of mental operations for the transformation of information obtained in the course of the cognition of reality. In other words, the reflected object is subjected to analysis, evaluation, interpretation. Therefore, in the text, along with the main content, consisting of a message about the subject of speech, additional inclusions are found, which explanatory and evaluative comments are. The presence of heterogeneous information in the text affects its semantic and formal organization. Thus, in linguistics, author's monologue text is considered as a kind of two-text , i.e. text, consisting of statements about the subject and the statement itself (Vezhbickaja, 1978). The researcher considers metatextual components inherent in any type of text.

Research Questions

Research questions are:

1. Study of the metatextual insertions in media text. In modern scientific reality, the media text is understood as an open phenomenon. Problems of openness of text, text in text or text about text refer us to well-known studies in the field of literature, linguistics, semiotics, problems of borrowing, imitation, parodying, to the theory of alien word – it means directly to the problem of metatextuality.

2. Identification of different types of metatextual insertions in media text. Media text is on the top of researches in different sciences but there are no studies devoted to the metatext and its functions in media text.

3. Analysis of metatext functions in media text.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to analyze media text on the material of English and Russian online media, to research the metatextual insertions and identify the functions and types of metatext in journalistic genre.

Research Methods

The focus of this research is analysis of metatextual insertions in media text in the aspect of its linguistic expression and functions. The author of the article uses the continuous sampling method; the method of contextual analysis used to identify the value of metatext in certain context; the typological method used to categorize the different types of metatextual insertions according to their linguistic implementation and functioning.


In modern media space there is a struggle for the media audience. Online sources of information certainly exceeded the popularity of their printed counterparts, and even television. The media audience is not a passive recipient of information; it is involved in its search and even participates in the creation of the media product itself. This leads to the formation and development of media texts on-line format, which, on the one hand, is formed on the foundation of the traditional printed press, and on the other hand, has absorbed the characteristic properties of the World Wide Web (Strizhevich, 2019).

Media text has acquired the status of a basic category in medialinguistics, media-stylistics, media culture - new directions in linguistic, philosophical, and pedagogical science. It can also be said that the theory of the media text claims to be an independent niche within the framework of the text theory or seeks to separate from it (Varfolomeeva & Lenkhoboeva, 2017).

Media text can be viewed in the classical understanding of this concept and at the same time as a special text that differs from the traditional text types (scientific, artistic, etc.). Texts of mass communications, possessing the addressee and being aimed at him, are not closed and complete. They collect, analyze, process information of primary sources (texts), which gives the media text secondary status. Media texts are a collection of phrases of primary texts, citations, references to pretexts. They are completely open to new interpretations (Kazak, 2019).

New perspectives in the understanding of media text as an open phenomenon - in relation to society, culture and other texts - forms the theory of intertextuality. Within the framework of this theory, any text is considered as a unit of a culture-centric order, relating to the cultural-historical experience of mankind and the general literary process (Kristeva, 2000).

In this perspective, mass communication texts are part of a global communication process.

Intertextuality itself, understood as the direct coexistence of two or more texts in one - in the form of a quotation, hint or image, is a specific feature of the media text. According to the researcher of this textual category, Olyzko N.S., metatextuality is one of the subspecies of intertextuality (as cited in Prikhoda, 2017).

In a broad sense, metatextuality is a commenting, critically - evaluating attitude of one text to another. This is an important condition for the most adequate perception and understanding, since the comments contain a lot of additional information that is important for interpretation. It can be said that precisely the metatextuality makes it possible to realize the communicative potential of the text (media text) most fully. At the same time, it is possible to note the double nature of the informative component of the media text. The appearance of metatextuality can change the placement of accents. The process of transferring (presenting) information becomes so emphasized that the situation of commenting, explaining, communicating with the audience attracts more and more attention, sometimes overshadowing interest in the event-based pretext.

We find a narrower understanding of metatextuality in the works of the linguist Vezhbickaja (1978). The author considers the author's monologic text as a statement and a comment on the statement. Such dialogical attitudes are possible to the statement as a whole or to its individual parts or words. This happens when the author separates himself from the utterance, speaks with an internal reservation, shows the distance in relation to his utterance, and delineates his authorship (Vezhbickaja, 1978).

Any statement is a combination of the main text and metatext, while the second clarifies, strengthens or connects the components of the first.

Popovich (1980) considers the metatext in connection with the term meta-communication. Each implemented communication opens a further communicative series. The text in this case is secondary, as it includes the entire path of development of this communication and is a reaction to the previous text. Metatext relies on the original, not repeating it.

Many researchers view metatext as an exclusively commenting component that clarifies and facilitates interpretation. However, in a situation of shifting emphasis on the process of transmitting (presenting) information, the metatext can also perform an informative function.

Metatext as a realization of metatextuality is a generalizing concept for various types of units that perform the metatextual function in a narrow and broad sense. In the first case, we are talking about linguistic units belonging to a specific text and focused on the same text - the principles of its construction, structure, connectivity of its components, simplifying the understanding of individual points (Prikhoda, 2017).

Consider the metatextual inclusions in the online media texts of well-known foreign and Russian media.

Metatextual inclusions vo-pervyh, vo-vtoryh, nakonec (firstly, secondly, finally) indicate the specific sequence in the plot of the media text. Vo-pervyh, ehto dobraya rozhdestvenskaya istoriya o puteshestvii i nachale prekrasnoj druzhby. Vo-vtoryh, tam est' nostal'gicheskij fler – dejstvie razvorachivaetsya v 1962 g. Nakonec, tam est' aktual'noe politkorrektnoe soderzhanie… (Firstly, it is a good Christmas story about the journey and the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Secondly, there is a nostalgic flair - the action takes place in 1962. Finally, there is a current politically correct content ...) (Zintsov, 2019).

The author lists the reasons why a certain film product won the prestigious Oscar. The metatextual inclusions used by the author, in this case, indicate the degree of importance of these reasons, highlight the primary and secondary points. Most likely, according to the author, the plot - a good Christmas story about friendship and travel - led to the victory of this movie.

The lawyer ultimately decide not to take the case, according to the lawsuit (Vazquez & Lee , 2019).

The author of the article talks about a lawsuit brought against President Trump by his former employee, lists the stages and features of this story. Metatextual inclusion indicates a certain result, the end of one of the stages of the media text plot.

Metatextual inclusions allegedly , probably , to be sure , vryad li ( hardly )point to the author’s doubt or confidence in relation to his own text. Trump then allegedly grasped her hand and praised her efforts (Vazquez & Lee , 2019).

The author of the media text retells events on behalf of the heroine of the plot. The metatextual inclusion in this case shows to the reader the removal of the author from his own text, his doubt, and underlines the transmission of the words of others.

Fewer children probably means that more attention is paid to them, including in the form of more investment in education (Feng & Cai, 2019).

Discussing the demographic situation in China, the author of the media text makes its own assumptions. The metatextual inclusion in this case indicates the author’s uncertainty.

To be sure, there was nothing glamorous about Orchids of Asia, in a shopping mall off US Highway 1 in Jupiter, Fla. (Hamilton, 2019).

In this example, the metatextual inclusion, on the contrary, indicates the author’s confidence in his opinion, which he expresses regarding the content of the media text.

Vryad li posle podobnogo skandala takoj pretendent poyavitsya (It is hardly that after such a scandal such an applicant will appear) (Beloussova, 2019).

The metatextual element vryad li (hardly) in this case emphasizes not so much the author’s doubts in his words, but his confidence in the opposite.

A certain conclusion, a hidden result is indicated by the metatextual element takim obrazom ( consequently ). Takim obrazom, VTB smog ostat'sya pribyl'nym (0,8 mlrd rub.) ( Consequently , VTB was able to remain profitable (0.8 billion rubles.)) (Anonymous, 2019).

Takim obrazom, govoritsya v materialah, 15 (a po drugim dannym — 17-18 procentov) semejnyh par stradayut besplodiem, chto yavlyaetsya kriticheskim urovnem dlya strany ( Consequently , according to the materials, 15 (and according to other data - 17-18 percent) of couples suffer from infertility, which is a critical level for the country.) (Anonymous, 2019).

In both cases, the author of media texts of various topics (in the first - the economic review, in the second - the socio-demographic problem) provides statistical data. Metatextual element takim obrazom emphasizes that the author sums up a certain result, makes a conclusion from the foregoing.

To highlight certain information in the text, to emphasize its importance is the metatextual element primechatel'no (remarkable ). Primechatel'no, chto obshchestvennost' kar'ernye plany Anny Korsun, izvestnoj publike pod psevdonimom Maruv, ne smutila (It is remarkable that the public career plans of Anna Korsun, known to the public under the pseudonym Maruv, did not bother) (Beloussova, 2019).

Relatively speaking, we can decipher (decode) this element as it should be noted, underlined .

The cataphoring function, which purpose is to attract the reader’s attention to the next, upcoming events, is performed by the metatextual inclusion Obo vsem popodrobnee zhe, itak (Everything is more detailed, so…) (Melamed, 2019).

Thus, the author simultaneously attracts the attention of the reader and indicates what is to be read.

As mentioned earlier, metatextuality is a kind of intertextuality. Therefore, both of these categories have many points of contact. This causes the presence of intertextual references with the metatextual function in media texts. Pomnite, monolog geroini Frejndlih iz «Stalkera» (mamy bol'noj dochki i zheny blazhennogo muzha): «A esli b ne bylo v nashej zhizni gorya, to luchshe b ne bylo b. Huzhe bylo by» (Remember, the monologue of the heroine Freundlich from “Stalker” (mothers of a sick daughter and wife of a blessed husband): And if there were no grief in our life, then there would not be better.. It would be worse. (Melamed, 2019).

This example vividly demonstrates the metatextual function of the intertext - clarifying the meaning of the main text and contributing to an adequate interpretation. The article in the online newspaper is devoted to the question of exaggerating the role of the positive in life. The author believes that striving solely for a positive perception of reality, a person ceases to see the real problems and pain of the world, which were, are and will be an indispensable component of human existence. Pretending that these problems do not exist, a person ceases to sympathize and dies spiritually. This idea clearly and openly sounds in the intertextual inclusion.

Metatext is focused on its own main text, a pretext, since meta in linguistics means the ability of a language to describe itself. Therefore, any metatext is a certain comment of a certain text that serves to create, evaluate, disclose a specific situation within the framework of a given text.

And they mean that the Chinese government can no longer manipulate fertility with blunt pro-natal policies (Feng & Cai, 2019).

The expression blunt pro-natal policies in this example indicates a clearly negative attitude of the author of the media text to the moment being described. Relatively speaking, the author, as it were, comments on himself - this is my attitude, and it is negative.

Skuchno stalo gadat' na «Oskarov». Favoritom v glavnoj nominacii byla «Zelenaya kniga» Pitera Farrelli – ona i poluchila prestizhnejshij priz (It became boring to guess at the Oscars. The favorite in the main nomination was Peter Farrelli’s Green Book - she won the most prestigious prize). (Zintsov, 2019).

The author's comment on his own text in this case is an ironic statement about the predictability of the Oscar award. Metatext refers to the expression gadat' na kofejnoj gushche (to wonder on the coffee grounds), that is, not to know, not even to have an idea how events can unfold. Thus, the metatext completely reveals the intentions of the author.

Metatext as an author's comment on one's own pretext can clarify a specific situation in a specific text - providing more detailed information, highlighting certain details, informing the reader not only about the author’s attitude to the described event, but also, perhaps, about the author’s personality.

The chunks of ice — some the size of boulders — were blown over the retaining wall along the Niagara River Parkway in Fort Erie on Sunday ( Feuerherd, 2019).

Describing an unusual natural phenomenon, the author of the media text introduces an explanatory commentary on a specific situation (natural object as a result of certain weather conditions), assuming that this event is rare and the description of the object itself may cause difficulties for the reader to understand.

V 2014 g. Agentstvo po strahovaniyu vkladov prodlilo na pyat' let depozit, vydannyj na sanaciyu Banka Moskvy (294,8 mlrd rub. pod 0,51% godovyh), ehto pozvolilo banku otrazit' dohod v 99 mlrd rub. i sozdat' rezervy na 98 mlrd rub. … CHistaya procentnaya marzha (rasschityvaetsya kak otnoshenie raznicy procentnyh dohodov i raskhodov k aktivam) banka za god snizilas' s 4,1 do 3,9% (In 2014, the Deposit Insurance Agency extended the deposit issued for the rehabilitation of the Bank of Moscow for five years (294.8 billion rubles at 0.51% per annum), which allowed the bank to reflect income of 99 billion rubles and create reserves of 98 billion rubles. ... The net interest margin (calculated as the ratio of the difference in interest income and expenses to assets) of the bank for the year decreased from 4.1 to 3.9%) (Eremina, 2019).

Both examples demonstrate the metatext as an author's comment clarifying his own pretext with additional information that will help the reader to fully understand the situation being described.

Est' u menya podruga. Ee zovut Anechka. I ona pozitivnaya. U An'ki ehndorfiny i dofaminy sinteziruyutsya ot rozhdeniya v takom kolichestve, chto ee «pret ot zhizni» kazhduyu sekundu Kakoj-to trolling v moj adres v samom ee sushchestvovanii est' (I have a girlfriend. Her name is Anya. And she is positive. Anki’s endorphins and dopamines are synthesized from birth in such an amount that she’s “rushing from life” every second. Some trolling addressed to me is in her very existence) (Melamed, 2019).

Metatext in the form of the author's comment kakoj-to trolling v moj adres v samom ee sushchestvovanii est' (Some trolling addressed to me is in her very existence) reveals two points: the author’s attitude to the situation as a whole (the reverse side of life positive, which suppresses the spiritual component of the personality) and some qualities of the author’s personality. According to the online Academic dictionary, Trolling is a type of virtual communication expressed in the form of manifestations of various forms of aggressive and mocking behavior (Academic, 2019). That is, the author of the media text regards the excessive.e positivism of her friend as a kind of mockery of her, thus emphasizing not only the lack of this quality in herself, but even the craving for opposing, perhaps, to the opposite quality of the personality.


Summarizing all the above, let us highlight the main functions of the metatextual inclusions (both the metatextual elements and the metatext) in the media text of online media:

the structuring function is an indication of a specific sequence of events;

the function of emphasizing paramount moments,

the distribution of the degree of importance;

modality – the author's attitude to his text, an expression of doubt / confidence;

the author’s assessment of the described events;

informing function - clarification of specific situations by introducing additional information into the text.

Thus, the critical-evaluative correlation of primary and secondary texts (metatextuality) is the most important feature of the texts functioning in the media and a characteristic component of the creative activity of journalists.


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07 August 2019

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Prikhoda*, I. V. (2019). Functions Of Metatextual Inclusions In Journalistic Text (On English And Russian Languages). In Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 327-334). Future Academy.