Discourse Analysis Of German News About Refugees: The Interaction Of Language Means


The article is dedicated to the analysis of news texts. Methodologically, this kind of texts is analyzed in terms of critical discourse analysis, described by T. van Dijk. Unlike the scientist’s understanding of the logic of discourse history according to the interpretation of the receptor as a representative of certain sociocultural environment, in this article news texts are analyzed in the view of social background (type of rationality). This, on the one hand, influences the reader’s interpretation and, on the other hand, the possibility of using the text to shape the receptor’s worldview. In the article, “discourse” is considered as a verbally articulated form of exteriorization of a public opinion shaped by a certain type of rationality in certain sociocultural environment. By a certain type of rationality are meant widespread in the societysociopolitical attitudes (normative-legal documents and ideological principles determining the sociopolitical direction). Lexical, semantic, grammatical language means and compositional techniquesin the news texts are analyzed. It was revealed that the choice of figurative expressive grammatical means is determined by the type of rationality in the sociocultural environment. The archetypical concept of “coming back home” is a recurring theme of the analyzed texts. Using European cultural code in realization of this theme related to certain cultural stereotypes in European mentality, on the one hand, can be an attempt to influence establishing social attitudes in German society towards refugees and, on the other hand, reflect the humanistic ideological position of European and German politicians towards migrants.

Keywords: Archetypical concept, cultural code, critical discourse analysis, discourse, news texts, type of rationality


Nowadays, every person in their everyday life is surrounded by news texts. Perhaps, this kind of text is the most frequent and required by modern society. Since the demand for news texts among readers is quite high, we can suppose that there are certain principles of writing news texts. Furthermore, taking into account the broadness of audience for which the news texts are meant, they can serve as means of implicit influence on people’s worldview and establishing a public opinion. Thus, the issue of composition of news texts arises.

A current news text is a more or less complex communicative phenomenon as compared with the texts of the past. The era of information sets objectives of a qualitative change of news texts from the point of view of their inner structure, choice of rhetorical means, their influence on a reader etc.

In the modern space of texts of various kinds in mass media, there is a trend toward versatility of the language of describing events (Nikitin, 2008). Linguists deal with studying the use of different parts of speech. They conduct comparative, quantitative, componential etc. analyses according to the objectives set (Malysheva, 2019). Texts of various publicist genres such as commentaries, newspaper reports and feature articles are analyzed by linguists.

The authors suppose that the linguistic means used to analyze news texts before requires reconsidering at the present stage.

Our research interest in this article is focused on news texts. This publicist genre has its peculiar features. Historically, news texts were to meet the requirements of immediacy, brevity, compactness and a little later – the requirement of accuracy in communicating events (Shostak, 1998). A news text is simple documentation of reality. According to Shostak (1998), it is “the most objective, pure information” (p. 36). The main creative goal of a journalist as of an author of brief news is to create an effect of “absolute accuracy”. The main feature of a news text is brevity, which determines its structure with a “news kernel” as the key element. Shostak (1998) mentions that “brief news is the main supplier of latest information (factual data) about a new event of the reality for mass audience” (p. 10). A contemporary news text is not only objective information. The sequence of events in it is slightly exaggerated. It is a common feature of news texts in which “all the events and processes are dramatized when communicated” (Marakasova & Chudova, 2021). Thus, a news text, besides objective information or a “news kernel” also contains emotional charge. The interrelation of the above mentioned circumstances is regulated by the author of the text who takes into account their super-objective (logical) intention which is determined by a number of factors (the pro-government or oppositional attitude of the journalist, lobbying one’s economic, political etc. interests). Consequently, a news text as a sum of objective information and emotional message is a complex communicative phenomenon, which can be studied using adequate tools.

Such tool can be considering a text as a universal phenomenon which reconstructs reality as a “system of signs” (Teterin, 2010, p. 97). Whereas social reality is understood as a “set of representations created with the help of the language” (Teterin, 2010, p. 97). Thus, we come to discourse. There are many theories that explain the phenomenon of discourse. In this article, we use the definition by Mozheiko and reverend Lepin (2003) who understand discourse as “a verbally articulated form of representation of the mental content regulated by the type of rationality in a specific sociocultural tradition” (p. 326).

Problem Statement

In this article, we analyze the structure of news texts. For analysis, we have chosen four texts on the political solution of the issue of refugees on board the ships of German humanitarian mission published on January 9, 2019. The ships were allowed to land in the port by Malta’s government. The choice of the texts was determined, firstly, by the relevance of the event at that moment and, secondly, by the research interest for the analyzed material.

Research Questions

The questions we attempt to answer in our research are as follows: How the type of rationality is implemented in the discourse of news texts? What are the authority mechanisms (civil-legal, social) of its maintenance? What language means (lexical semantic, grammatical, compositional) are used in news texts and what functions they perform?

Type of rationality and forms of its implementation in reality

In his work “Analysis of News as Discourse” T. van Dijk states that discourse semantics is not determined only by lexical meaning of words and their position. To understand the logic of discourse history one needs “cognitive and social analysis of the knowledge of native speakers within a specific culture” (Dijk, 2000, p. 128). Therefore, the scholar speaks about the dependence of discourse interpretation on the receptor, a representative of sociocultural environment, i.e. the main principle is that an individual interprets a discourse.

However, in our article, we use a different approach. We analyzed the social background of discourse history and following the obtained results we will attempt to describe a news text as a discourse. Thus, we will consider a text from the point of view of social background which influences, on the one hand, the reader’s interpretation and, on the other hand, establishing a receptor’s consistent worldview.

By a certain type of rationality are meant sociopolitical attitudes (normative-legal documents, ideological principles and constitutional legal values determining the sociopolitical direction), which are widespread in the society and state.

We will consider some features of rationality in Germany and then we will proceed with legal and regulatory mechanisms of maintaining it.

Historically, FRG adherence to European integration originates from Konrad Adenauer (Geymbukh, 2016; Kardas & Zuranovich, 2011). The activities of the federal chancellor were initially aimed at complex solution of two relevant objectives: reunification of Germany and reunification of Europe. European integration movement in post-war Germany meant establishing a new type of domestic political relations between society and state. It would have been impossible to solve the set tasks without new democratic society in Germany that would be recognized by European countries. However, there was also an opposite direction which consisted in establishing an ideological attitude in German society toward European integration. Geymbukh (2016) stresses that “it was only Germans’ solidarity with European community that was considered as an opportunity for creating a free democratic state and earn confidence in Germany” (p. 18). Adenauer wrote:

We had only one way -to save our political freedom, our security, our lifestyle established in the course of several centuries on the basis of Christian humanistic worldview, the way of firm unification with nations and peoples which share the same views on the issues of state, personality, freedom and property as us. (Geymbukh, 2016, p. 18)

Therefore, in the cited words of federal chancellor, the key directions of German domestic and foreign policy in the second half of the 20thcenturyare outlined: preservation of Germany’s sovereignty, German identity and culture on the basis of Christian humanistic worldview and a focus on European integration. Adenauer’s words were reflected in an objective in the preamble that was adopted in Constitution of Federal Republic of Germany in 1948: “… to serve the purpose of maintaining international peace as an equal member in reunited Germany…” (Geymbukh, 2016, p. 20) and were developed in other articles of Constitution. Thus, we can see that the idea of European integration based on Christian humanistic worldview has a long history in the politics of Federal Republic of Germany and was embodied in Constitution and other statutory and regulatory documents. The idea of integration, human rights and freedoms and other universal human values represent the legal basis of foreign and domestic policy of Federal Republic of Germany, are fixed in basic statutory and regulatory documents and are maintained at the execution level (are implemented in authority discourse) and function in civic society.

Statutory and regulatory mechanisms of maintaining the type of rationality

Besides Constitution, there are other statutory and regulatory documents which regulate and encourage the establishment and development of civic society. One of the key documents is the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted on December 7, 2000 (Geymbukh, 2017; Kashkin, 2003). In our opinion, the ideological imperative fixed in the Charter creates possibilities for developing and strengthening human rights and establishes worldview attitudes.

Kashkin (2003) stresses that:

The Charter reflects an interesting and extremely humane idea which enhances further advancement of citizens' legal status. It consists in the intention to recognize the practically achieved level of implementation of human rights and freedoms as practically equal to the level secured in legislation. (p. 1124)

Тhus, we can observe, firstly, the inverse relationship between the social reality and authority discourse and, secondly, the tendency of prevailing the citizens’ real rights and freedoms over the “legally secured” ones.

Further, the scholar makes an observation which is relevant for us: “In international law, the most acceptable method is coordination, concord, whereas in constitutional law - the imperative method, the method of submission prevails. It is also justified that, in the law of the European Union, the participants of this union first come to an agreement and coordinate their positions and then, in their activities, conform to the reached arrangements, i.e. the method of “coordinated subordination” is developed and adjusted”. (Kashkin, 2003). Thus, we can observe hierarchy of legal relationships within the European Union which can be described by the formula “coordinated subordination”.

Considering the Charter, we should mention one more tendency: “accelerated creation of civic societies in the countries-participants of the European Union and developing civic society within the whole European integration group” (Kashkin, 2003, p. 1124). The mechanism of implementing this tendency consists in a gradual switch to the situation when states will delegate a part of their authority to the supranational level of civic society. Therefore, the intentions captured in legislation ought to be implemented in the civil discourse and in the manifestations of civil life.

Moreover, Kashkin (2003) emphasizes a significant emerging tendency which has increased since the second half of the 20th century: The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights strengthened and broadened the possibilities of legal remedy for citizens and other people on the territory of the EU” .Within the framework of our research, it is a relevant observation which shows exercising human rights and freedoms on the territory of the EU.

Therefore, the above mentioned separate statutes and regulations, being part of the normative legal system, create and regulate the type of rationality in European sociocultural tradition and namely, in Germany. The conducted brief social analysis showed that the documents contain an articulated form of mentality: Christian humanistic worldview, preservation of national identity, participation in integration processes, enforcement of citizens’ real rights and freedoms, coordinated international subordination, development of civil society, global humanistic regionalism on the basis of supranational civic societies.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to reveal language means that are used for representation of mental content in news texts and to analyze functioning of such texts in sociocultural environment determined by the type of rationality. The framework of the article limits its content; therefore, the object of research in the paper is the phenomena related to the main structural levels of language representation, which the authors consider in regard with social macrostructures. The subject of research is grammatical structures (voice), stylistic phenomena (word connotation, semantics, rhetorical figures), syntax (word order in a sentence). The aims of this article do not include such issues as interrelation of texts with institutes producing news and economic reasons for creating news texts.

Research Methods

In our research, we apply the method of critical discourse analysis (Dijk, 2000; Oleshkova, 2020), which consists in integral description of the structure and function of the headline and lead, stylistic peculiarities, structural, thematic organization of news texts. One of the ideologists of this method is T. Van Dijk. Hedefinesdiscourseas “acomplexunity of language form, meaning and action which could be best described with the help of the notion of communicative event or communicative act” (Dijk, 2000, p. 121). Thus, consideringanewstextasacombination of language form and social context, we will make an attempt to reveal some peculiarities of creating and functioning of this kind of texts.

Lexical Analysis

The lexicalsemanticaspectplaysasignificantrole in creation and functioning of news texts. The perception of news and the effect it produces depends on it. Implementation of the lexical semantic aspect depends to a large extent on the rhetorical plane; the choice of the word which describes the event most accurately, use of comparisons, metaphors, metonymies and other figurative language means, and also digital data to present factual information. One of the purposes of this article is analysis of the lexical semantic aspect of news texts.

Grammatical analysis

T. van Dijk mentions that, there are specific grammatical structures in specific kinds of discourse, for instance, in news texts that are considered the most typical and preferable. In this article, we will consider functioning of the passive voice in sentences, the conjunctive and the role of the agent.

Microsociological analysis

Discourse analysis considers not only the syntax of a separate sentence in a text, but great attention is also paid to describing the sequence of sentences in a text. Thus, the compositional structure of a text performs a denotative function.


In this paragraph, we will consider discourse history in several news texts from different sources. We will conduct lexical, grammatical analysis and analysis of semantic macrostructure.

We will start lexical analysis with considering a semantic macrostructure. Semantic macrostructure provides coherence (general connectivity) of a text. We will analyze a news text, defining its semantic macrostructure. Then we will try to define semantic macrostructures in similar thematic texts to compare these structures, combining them on the base of “semantic invariant”.

In a super title or in a topic of a news article from the newspaper office(Endoftheweeklongodyssey)(n-tv.de, 2019) the word(Odyssey) is used. In the Duden dictionary we find the following definition:(«Example: the wanderings of Odysseus)(Duden, 2019). Thus, we fix an intertextual connection with a work of Homer “the Odyssey”. The work tells about a longer-term and full of death-defying adventures homecoming of a mythical hero. In recent history of rescuing refugees, the word(Odyssey) is a latent metaphor of longer-term Odyssey’s wanderings. In addition, archetypic motive of a homecoming is the basis of a social (political) scenario: a joint decision by European policymakers could complete marine wanderings, find shelter, and save 49 people’s lives.

On the lexical level a macrostructural title consists of two nouns and an adjective as an attribute. The title fully corresponds to semantic macrostructure features of the given type of texts, in which the prevalence of nominalisations (nouns) in comparison with other parts of speech is stated.

In the title of the textMalta welcomes migrants from relief vessels the result of the news is reported in detail. The sentence is structured on the principle of relevance. Agens (Malta) comes first and has an increased meaning. The Maltese Government made a short-term commitment to receive more migrants.

In a direct speech by the Prime Minister of Malta, we can find a word of “official” jargon -(an ad hoc agreement). The Duden dictionary informs, that the word has the meaning «zudiesemZweck, dafür» (for this purpose) and is marked as the word of a belles-lettres style

In sentence(32 migrants on board the "Sea-Watch 3" have been on board the ship since 22 December)the verb «ausharren» (persevere) has a mark «poetic style». From semantic point of view the wordcreates a figurative connection with the headline (End of week-long odyssey) and also refers to the poem of Homer “the Odyssey”, describing longer-term wanderings of a main character on his way home.

In the sentence Beide Schiffsbesatzungen bemühten sich seitdem vergeblich um die Erlaubnis, in einem europäischen Hafen vor Anker zu gehen (Since then, both ship crews have tried in vain for permission to anchor in a European port) the phrase «vor Anker zu gehen» («to anchor») isused in a directmeaning. Besides, the given phrase can be used colloquially (umgangssprachliche Wendung) in a metonymic meaning. That gives rise to the semantic duality. On the one hand, the direct meaning is “the ship will anchor, moor”, on the other hand, the indirect meaning is “to rest, to settle at some place” (an einer Stelle, bei jemandem Rast machen, sich niederlassen (Duden, 2019). In this case moorage of the ship denotes ending of wanderings, having a rest after a longer-term and full of death-defying adventures way. Thus, implementation of a social scenario of “coming home” on the lexical level takes place through the figurative word connection: Irrfahrt – ausharren – vor Ankerzugehen (odyssey – persevere – anchor).

The lexeme Schiff also takes part in the process of associative chain creation in a reader perception. The word Schiff (boat, ship) is an invariant in an associative series of other nominalizations: Hilfsschiff (support vessel), Rettungsschiff (rescue boat).

The lexeme Solidarität in the word context of a European official denotes the hope of EU leaders for understanding and possible cooperation of sovereign states in the solution of the refugee problem. Besides, the lexeme reflects the type of rationality, namely one of the manifestations of the content of European civil law: coordinated intergovernmental subordination () ().

In this case the semantic message of the text under analysis consists in the fact, that due to the rapid decision of the Maltese authorities, based on coordinated intergovernmental subordination, it became possible to complete the longer-term wanderings of refugees and save human lives.

The super title of a news article from the newspaper office spiegel.de (spiegel.de, 2019) contains the lexeme «Rettungsschiff» («rescue boat»), which is a variant of a key word Schiff (ship). The word Rettungsschiff (rescue boat) creates a macrostructural representation of the situation of a rescue of refugees at sea. The same function has the title of the article «Nach wochenlanger Irrfahrt – Malta lässt 49 Migranten an Land» («After weeks of wandering - Malta lets 49 migrants ashore»). The title contains the word combination, which reconstructs the context core of a news event. But in the news text from the newspaper office spiegel.de semantic accents are shifting towards dramatization of the Situation on two rescue ships. The news is served in the light of plight (super title Notlage, one of the news subtitles is Katastrophale Situation an Bord) of refugees on ships of the humanitarian mission because the ships are not allowed to enter European ports.

The dangerous situation on board is described as follows: towering waves () – the alarming situation () – the catastrophic situation () – Injuries, illness and the situation of uncertainty ().

Mark the reference in the news text to the pontiff Francis, who sent “a sorrowful appeal” () to European Heads of State and Government to express solidarity with regard to 49 refugees (). The Pope’s appearance in the sentence is expressed by the verb «hatte sich eingeschaltet» (got involved). The Duden dictionary defines the meaning of the verb as: «durch eine automatische Schaltung in Betrieb gesetzt werden», Beispiel: die Alarmanlage schaltet sich sofort ein («to be put into operation by an automatic circuit», example: the alarm system switches on immediately) [https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/einschalten]. The metonymic use of the verb from the technical sphere demonstrates functioning political and civil mechanisms. The Head of the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement is fully covered in accordance with conditions of rationality in German society (christian-humanist worldview).

As well, the super title of the news article from the newspaper office zdf.de «Acht Staaten nehmenMigranten auf- Flüchtlingsschiffe dürfen in Malta anlegen» («Eight countries take in migrants - refugee ships are allowed to dock in Malta») (zdf.de, 2019) contains the variant of a key word Flüchtlingsschiff (refugee ships) and creates a macrostructural implementation of the situation with illegal migrants. The newspaper office zdf.de reports the news from the viewpoint of the European joint decision on the distribution of refugees, as evidenced by the verb «aufnehmen» (receive). Besides, the newspaper highlighted the plight of refugees on ships:..It is important to notice, that the news is reported under the sign of «emergency message», i.e. the importance of the message is stressed.

The super title of the news article from the newspaper office t-online.de «Nachtagelanger Blockade» («After several days of a blockade») (t-online.de, 2019) creates a macrostructural implementation with the word «tagelang» (several-day-long). Interpretation of the event lies in the plane of an already solved problem, as evidenced by the preposition «nach» (after). The variation of the lexeme Schiff is synonym «Seenotretter», (emergency rescue ship). The title «Deutsche Seenotretter dürfen in Malta anlegen» («German sea rescuers allowed to dock in Malta») emphasises the involvement of German ships (adjective «deutsch» (German)) in the rescue of people.

The lexical analysis revealed that news texts use the words that create a meaning invariant in readers' perception,allowing highlighting this news among many others. One typical characteristic of this type of text is use of official jargon, bureaucratic clichés. In addition, there are rhetorical figures: metonyms, comparisons, metaphors, and the stylistic coloration of words.

Grammatical analysis

In this paragraph we will consider the grammatical features of all news texts studied. On the grammar level we note the use of passive voice, conjunctive, the role of Agents, extended attributes.

In texts there is a change of word order in some sentences. For example, Die 49 Flüchtlinge an Bord der beiden deutschen Hilfsschiffe vor der Küste von Malta dürfen nach Angaben der dortigen Regierungan Land gehen. (The 49 refugees on board the two German support ships off the coast of Malta, according to the government there, may land). The word order in the sentence points out „the distribution of semantic roles of the situation’s participants” (Dijk, 2000). A neutral word order implies putting the agent on the first place, for example, Die maltesische Regierung ließ die 49 Flüchtlinge an Bord der beiden deutschen Hilfsschiffe vor der Küste von Malta an Land gehen. (The Maltese government left the 49 refugees on board the two German Support vessels ashore off the coast of Malta), or Nach Angaben der maltesischen Regierung dürfen die 49 Flüchtlinge an Bord der beiden deutschen Hilfsschiffe vor der Küste von Malta an Land gehen (According to the Maltese Government, the 49 refugees are allowed on board of the two German auxiliary ships to land off the coast of Malta). Thus, an object takes the first place (in our case the object is 49 refugees on two German ships of the humanitarian mission). Rescued migrants become the headline of the news.The following example shows the priority of the solution: "Es wurde eine Ad-hoc-Vereinbarung erzielt", sagte Maltas Regierungschef Joseph Muscat am Mittwoch vor Journalisten ("An ad hoc agreement was reached", said Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to journalists on Wednesday) (n-tv.de). On the first place, i.e. the place of a higher meaning weight, there is a complement (Ad-hoc-Vereinbarung), related to the fate of rescued migrants

Other examples, demonstrating the role of agents: Die Geretteten würden anschließend auf acht EU-Mitgliedsstaaten verteilt, erklärte der maltesische Premierminister Joseph Muscat am Mittwoch bei einer Pressekonferenz (The rescued would then be distributed among eight EU member states, said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at a press conference on Wednesday) (t-online.de, 2019). The sentence starts with a direct speechfrom a Maltese official. Substantive participle the first place. Thus, in a sentence with passive voice, an object becomes a subject with a higher meaning weight.

In the sentence «Eine Woche spatter nahm das Rettungsschiff "Professor Albrecht Penck" der deutschen Organisation Sea-Eye 17 Migranten auf» (One week later, the rescue ship "Professor Albrecht Penck" of the German organization Sea-Eye 17 migrants on)the peculiarity of semantic roles distribution is that the adverbial modifier of time is on the first place. The sentence has an inverse word order indicating the importance of the time factor in ongoing history.In news texts there are speech structures typical of written– extended attributes, for example, für 249 bereits in Malta befindliche gerettete Migranten, die zur Aufnahme der Flüchtlinge bereiten EU-Mitgliedstaaten (for 249 rescued migrants already in Malta, EU Member States ready to take in refugees)(n-tv.de), die seit Tagen auf dem Mittelmeer blockierten Rettungsschiffe (the rescue vessels blocked for days in the Mediterranean) (t-online.de).In a number of sentences in the text, PerfectConjunctive is used for direct speech: sei … erzieltworden. Er sei froh, dass die Migranten von den Schiffen nun an Land könnten,…. Er dankte der maltesischen Regierung, dass sie den Schiffen das Anlegen erlaubte. Die … EU-Mitgliedstaaten hätten … "active Solidarität" gezeigt (… have been achieved. He was glad that the migrants from the ships could now land … He thanked the Maltese government that it allowed the ships to dock. … EU member states would have demonstrated active solidarity). Conjunctive is used not only to report official information, but to describe the situation on the ships of the humanitarian mission. For example, Die Menschen seien traumatisiert. Dazu kämen Seekrankheit und Unsicherheit (People are traumatized, including seasickness and insecurity) (spiegel.de).

Modal verb können (can) is used to increase emotional background. Modality expresses a possible scenario: «Alle sitzen eng bei einander und da können sich Krankheiten sehr schnell verbreiten» («Everyone sits close together and diseases can spread very quickly».).

Grammatical analysis revealed the use of grammatical means in news texts to highlight important information.

Compositional level analysis

The compositional text structure of the news from n-tv.deis as follows: first of all, there is a reliance on political scenarios (archetypic motive «return home»). The text follows a retrospective approach: German humanitarian mission ships were allowed to enter the Maltese port (solution; «return home») ← 49 migrants on two ships wandered by the sea awaiting permission to berth in a European port (previous situation) ←legal, regulatory and sociocultural background of the situation (historically established solidarity; form of the content of civil law consciousness: coordinated intergovernmental subordination).

The structure of the news text from spiegel.de consists of two compositional parts. Part one retrospectively informs that 49 refugees are allowed to set foot on shore (Ad-hoc-Agreement policy decision taken, «return home») ← mentioned briefly previous events (the interest of German non-profit organizations in saving people, and globally, in solving the problem of migrants. Part two describes the disastrous situation on the ships of the humanitarian mission: difficult weather conditions, psychological distress due to injuries and situations of uncertainty (shared compassion, dramatization of events).

The compositional structure of the text news from zdf.de can also be represented in two parts. The first partFlüchtlingsschiffe dürfen in Malta anlegen ( - refugee ships are allowed to dock in Malta)shows previous events before the resolution of the situation (who? did what? when? historicalcredibility of events). The second part(Eight countries take in migrants -) describes the dramatic situation on the ships (solidarity, compassion, dramatization of events) and provides the context for the joint policy decision (Malta’s interest to expel some of the migrants, readiness of Germany and other countries to receive part of the migrants, coordinated intergovernmental subordination).

The compositional structure of the news text from t-online.de also consists of two parts. The first part informs of the policy decision taken (Ad-hoc-Vereinbarung policy decision taken, «return home») ←previous events are briefly mentioned (the interest of German non-profit organizations in saving people and, globally, and, globally, in solving the problem of migrants). Part 2 summarizes the technical facts (historical credibility of the event, radar data) and informs about the volunteer organization Sea-Watch (development of civil society).

The compositional level analysis showed that news texts have a common structure that can vary depending on the supertask (sense intention) of a given text. Table 01 summarizes the use of language means in news texts.

Table 1 - Language means and semantic intention of the text
See Full Size >

The news texts from spiegel.de and zdf.de editions are more emotional at the expense of dramatizing events. Perhaps in enhancing the emotional content of the text by describing the plight of refugees on ships is an attempt to influence public opinion to correct the attitude of public/collective consciousness towards the problem of uncontrolled migration. If so, it should be noted that public opinion is influenced by means of the dominant type of rationality in society.


As a result of our research, we have come to the following conclusions.

Lexical-grammatical aspect

The choice of lexical-semantic and grammatical means in the creation of news texts is defined by the supertask of the author and the editor. Editorial task is not arbitrary or personal. It stems from the socio-political attitudes of society and the State. Thus, the language means are determined by the type of rationality in Germany.Rhetorical figures help to create more effective texts. It is established that the use in the texts (including in (super)titles) of words carrying a key weight of meaning produces at the level of macrostructure a sense invariant. Keywords are essential to the functioning of such texts to define a cross-cutting theme.

One of typical characteristics of this type of texts is the use of official jargon, bureaucratic cliches. rhetorical figures (metonyms, comparisons, metaphors).

News texts use grammar means to highlight important information.

On the compositional level, it is established that the news texts have a common structure that can vary depending on the semantic message of a particular text.

Sociocultural aspect

Research data suggest that the legal and regulatory framework for maintaining socio-political attitudes determines the news delivery modus. Use of the European cultural code by recreating the archetypic motive of «returning home» is the general theme of news about migrants, who travel dangerously across the Mediterranean Sea to seek asylum in European countries. In updating this image, linked to certain cultural stereotypes in European conscience, it is possible to see an attempt to influence social attitude to the problem of refugees, including in Germany, on the one hand, and at the same time the humanistic ideological position of European and German politicians is expressed on the other hand. The general theme of wandering when «returning home» provides connectivity of all the texts about refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe and found a temporary shelter there. Besides, another significant factor in cultivating a tolerant attitude towards refugees is the German idea of European integration. It is an idea that found a form of its expression, in a humanistic attitude towards migrants, as well as in attempts to solve the refugee problem through the language representation in news texts.


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02 December 2021

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Linguistics, cognitive linguistics, education technology, linguistic conceptology, translation

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Boldakov, P., Voitkova, A., Kharchenko, M., & Universalyuk, E. (2021). Discourse Analysis Of German News About Refugees: The Interaction Of Language Means. In O. Kolmakova, O. Boginskaya, & S. Grichin (Eds.), Language and Technology in the Interdisciplinary Paradigm, vol 118. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 926-938). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.12.112