Implicit persuasion in news report: a corpus-based study of present-day Italian

30 May 2024
Room C1

Implicit persuasion in news report: a corpus-based study of present-day Italian

Research on implicit strategies, including a.o. implicatures and presuppositions, has suggested that these can be used to persuade addressees, particularly when the implicit content consists of non-shared information (Sbisà 2023[1999], a.o.). Accordingly, the manipulative potential of implicit strategies has been studied mainly in prototypically persuasive types of discourse, such as political discourse and advertising. Nonetheless, if classic rhetoric analysis used to classify text types according to their aim, recent theoretical frames conceive argumentation (to be intended as the purpose of persuading addressees) as a discourse dimension “cut(ting) across genres” (Labinaz & Sbisà 2018). The present paper supports this claim by analysing the persuasive implicit strategies in an original ad hoc corpus of Italian news reports. The adopted taxonomy of implicitness is based on the scheme by Lombardi Vallauri & Masia (2014), largely put to test in Italian political discourse (Cominetti et al. forth.).

Results show that implicit strategies are indeed found in Italian news reports with significant frequency. More precisely, four tendencies arise: 1) Implicit strategies are found in potentially persuasive chronicles, that is in reports of culturally or politically sensitive news (e.g., femicides, national health disservices, …). 2) Implicit strategies tend to gather in the headlines and are rarer in the body of the articles. This finding supports the idea of headlines in contemporary online news reports being used as clickbait. Indeed, the frequency of implicit strategies in headlines gets close to that of advertising slogans. 3) The frequency of implicit strategies tends to be lower in the most-sold newspapers than in less popular ones, especially in headlines. 4) Qualitative analysis shows that the distribution of implicit strategies is also related to the written modality of the analysed corpus: e.g., conventional implicatures, triggered by connectives, are comparatively more frequent in written news reports than in spoken political discourse.ì


Cominetti, F, Gregori, L., Panunzi, A., Lombardi Vallauri, E. (forth.). IMPAQTS: a multimodal corpus of Italian political discourse pragmatically annotated per implicitly conveyed questionable content. In Proceedings of ParlaClarin IV.

Labinaz, P. & Sbisà, M. (2018). Argumentation as a dimension of discourse: The case of news articles. Pragmatics & Cognition, 25(3), 602-630.

Lombardi Vallauri, E. & Masia, V. (2014). Implicitness impact: measuring texts. Journal of Pragmatics, 61, 161-184.

Sbisà, M. (2023) [1999]. Ideology and the persuasive use of Presupposition. In Sbisà, M. (2023) Essays on Speech Acts and other topics in Pragmatics. Oxford, Oxford University Press.