[abstract] headlines are quite essential for english news. they are the windows of news. this paper describes the types of headlines and also explains the features of headlines. firstly, introduction of classifications of headlines can give readers a perceptual knowledge. secondly, in order to give readers some rational knowledge about headlines, this paper then explains characteristics of vocabularies in headlines, ie. short words, shortenings, quotations, proverbs, wisdoms, idioms are often used in headline. it also gives examples of rhetorical characteristics such as metaphor, contrast, rhyme, pun, metonymy and paradox and so on so forth. finally the paper concludes tense and voice features in headlines and sums up the most important feature of headlines: omission. news media is the best channel of knowing every field including politics, economics, science, culture, and society. this paper aims to help english learners know english news well and read news efficiently.
puns are often in irony，humorous headlines. if they are used proper this trend would be stronger.
(1)e.g. “the sun sets for the last time”
“it tells us an english newspaper in hong kong called sun is stop coming out. the ‘sun’ here is a pun.” p111
(2)e.g. “african statesman still sowing seeds for future”
“this report is about julius nyerere，president of tansonia，who is sowing seeds happily in his hometown where is far from big cities after retired. but africa is unsteady thus many international leaders go all the way to learn from him the ways of saving a country. so he is still sowing seeds for the future of africa. ‘sowing seeds’ is a pun in this headline.” p349
when using metonymy, the person or the thing a writer want to write are not shown directly in a headline，but by borrowing other things connected to indicate them indirectly.
(1)e.g. a royal pain for the crown
here crown is not the real crown but indicate the queen.
(2)e.g. uncle sam’s island
uncle sam is nearly known to all. it is another informal sayings of american government or americans.
metonymy can avoid repeating certain words and strengthen the affection，so it is used largely in modern newspaper，even some of metonymies become to be public words, such as white house, bucking ham palace, downing street, motor city, and so on.
(1)e.g.：for ramadan，jerusalem is quiet but tense
(2)e.g. surgery without the surgery?!
a paradox can make readers think from two－side ways and let them understand news deeply. to understand this kind of headline well we should chew them twice or even more.
5.tense and voice of headline
verbs show actions. a piece of news will be reinforced and animous if a verb is used properly. as for our foreign readers, although its merits, it is more difficult to understand. verbs have their own tenses .so are ones in headlines. but headlines must short and accurate, so the verbs in them have special tense showing methods. english headlines do not use past tense but present tense, thus readers feel they are in the situation and the news is in time, this called journalistic present tense, the same as historical present tense in literature. above all, headlines often use three kind of tense.
5.1 use of the simple present tense
(1)e.g. we get up at six
(they usually do as this.)
(2)e.g. she is a nurse
in news, present tense is often used to describe things happened just now, that is to say, it is used to instead of past tense.
english learners should pay attention to this situation, do not consider present tense in headlines as they usually are.
e.g. comeback gives china a sensational thomas cap win
(the comeback gave china a sensational thomas cup win.)
5.2 use of the simple future tense
the simple future tense describes things will be happen in the future. the forms of future tense are “will (shall) do”, “be going to do” “be to do” “be about to do” and so on. but in english headlines “be to do” form in which “be” is omitted is used most. so in headlines “to do” forms express writers’ prediction of future trends.
(1)e.g. bands to gather for jazz festival
(bands are to gather for jazz festival.)
(2)e.g. last two iraq hostages to go free
(the last two hostages in iraq are to go free.)
5.3 use of the present progressive tense
present progressive tense emphasizes certain thing is doing at present time and its result is not known at now. also “be” is usually omitted for the need of shortness.
(1)e.g. sino--british partnership progressing
(sino--british partnership is progressing)
(2)e.g. signs of rifts appearing in argentina’s junta
(the signs of rifts are appearing in argentina’s junta.)
5.4 use of passive voice
when verbs in headlines should use passive voice , the “be” in“be + participle” form and the operator followed “by” are usually omitted. thus the only left past participle can give a passive meaning directly in headlines, learners must not confused passive voice as past tense.
(1)e.g. demolition regulation welcomed
(demolition regulation is welcomed.)
(2)e.g. girl of 18 raped after threat with bread knife
(a girl of 18 was raped after she is threated with a bread knife.）
(3)e.g. 12 reported killed in a suicide bomb
(it was reported that 12 person was killed in a suicide bomb.)
“in fact，after learners read more，they will fond active voice is used far more than passive voice. only when object is emphasize，passive voice is used. ” p80 please pay attention to this.
tense and voice of a headline can be concluded in one sentence，present participle can express the progressive meaning, past participle the passive voice，infinitive form the future tense.
(1)e.g. gun－safety education facing many hurdles
(2)e.g. aircraft carrier named after president reagan
(3)e.g. house to vote on ergonomics rules
as we read these headlines how can we distinguish what kind of tense and voice the present participle，infinite and past participle indicate？firstly，learners can decide by their knowledge. secondly leading can be read for further understanding.
it should be noted that other tense at times are used in oration or question headlines.
(1)e.g. i was not his mistress
(2)e.g. we won’t quit
(3)e.g. tones planned to kill bush？
these tenses mainly used to emphasize the time.
6.omission in headlines
“economy and compression are the most important features of headlines.” p108 in order to meet the need of large amount of information in modern society, english newspaper editors at one hand enlarge their volume，adding more information，at the other hand cutting the number of words in one piece of news to save place but contain more information. that is why the function words having no real meanings are all tend to be elected in headlines.
ways of omission are various:
6.1 most of the words deleted are function words.
“the deleted words are often articles, link verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary words and pronouns.”p341
(1)e.g. china happy for middle east
（china happy for the middle east.）
(2)e.g. charles, 32 seeks bride
（prince charles, who is 32 years old, is looking for someone to marry. ）
(3)e.g.microsoft，ericsson forming joint venture
（microsoft and ericsson forming joint venture.）
(4)e.g. alaskan oil for japan？
(will there be alaskan oil for japan? )
(5)e.g. irish group kills ex－chief
（the irish group kills its ex－chief.）
whereas not all of the articles can be omitted.
(1)e.g. west point makes a comeback
“make a comeback” is an idiom so “a” must be remained.
(2)e.g. how america sees the world。
in front of “world” there must be a “the”.
(3)e.g. kill in the name of god
“the” should be here for the sake of definit connection.
6.2 use punctuations to save pages
6.2.1” comma can be in stead of ‘and’ ”[12 ] p140
(1)e.g. tailand, malaysia ink sea reaty.
（tailand and malaysia ink a sea treaty.）
(2)e.g. woman kills husband, self
（a woman kills her husband and herself.）
6.2.2 use of colon
“said” or “say” can be instead by colons or double quotation marks to give a meaning that someone says something or some conclusions are drawn;
“to be” sometimes is replaced by a colon in headlines.
(1)e.g. hu :we should support third world countries
（hu says that we should support the third world counties.）
(2)e.g. chinese cooks: masters at turning a turnip into a flower.
（chinese cooks are masters at turning a turnip into a flower.）
6.2.3 use of single quotation marks
single quotation marks can quote someone’s saying; or the words in side of them have a deep or other meanings. single quotation marks are often instead of double quotation marks for they are shorter.
(1)e.g. teen killer was angry young man.
(2)e.g. china demands u.s. stop ‘interfering’ on human rights
(3)e.g. bush unveils a ‘can do’ budget.
6.3 to save pages，abbreviations and acronyms are used.
the abbreviations often read in headlines are like follows :
“acronyms are the words formed from the initial letters of a group of words. they can save space and beautify the headlines in picturesque disorder.” p27
acronyms can be divided into three types:
(ⅰ)names of agents or organizations such as cppcc（the chinese people’s political consultative conference）and plo ，wto…
(ⅱ) names of something that we use very often such as aids，ufo, pc…
(ⅲ)nouns for careers，positions or credits like pm (prime minister), mp(member of parliament), gm(general manager), pa(personal assistant).
6.4 using nouns，participles and short adjective to embellish words to replace long adjective or clauses.
(1)e.g. poison gas fear haunts city
（a fear of poison gas is haunting the people in a certain city.）
(2)e.g. 3 held over college horror crash
（3 people are being detained by the police concerning a horrifying crash at a college.）
6.5 use of numbers but without of the following nouns.
(1)e.g. 41 die as school collapses
（41 students die as school collapses）
(2)e.g. muller charged in fondling of boy，14
( muller was charged in fondling of a boy of 14 years old.)
above all, in a fast changing world, news media is the best channel of knowing every field including politics, economics, science, culture, and society. to read english news is the best way to get in touch with modern english and understanding headlines well can help readers comprehend the whole news and thus read news efficiently. though it benefits you a lot, to understand headlines is not such as easy as abc. if you are really eager to know well of headlines, the history and cultures of english countries, the works of english writers’, the english idioms and wisdoms that all these kinds of knowledge should be mastered. this needs you work hard and persevere.
except for those marked in references, the other examples are selected from english digest, english salon and china daily in recent years.
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