From evaluative authorities to involved narrators: Variation and change in first-person singulars used in the culture sections of six European newspapers, from 1960 to 2010

Pekka Posio, Riie Heikkilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Is the use of the first-person singular becoming more prevalent in journalistic writing, like often claimed, and what is it used for? In order to tackle these questions, we analysed 11,775 articles published between 1960 and 2010 in the cultural sections of ABC and El País (Spain), Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), Helsingin Sanomat (Finland), Le Monde (France), and The Guardian (UK). Our analysis focuses on the variation and change in the frequency and functions of first-person singular pronoun and verb forms over time and between different newspapers. We provide a logistic regression analysis of the whole dataset, as well as a qualitative analysis of the 1,077 articles containing at least one first-person singular. The analyses reveal a considerable amount of variation in first-person singular usage between each newspaper. The findings, however, converge to reveal that the frequency of first-persons singulars increases over time while its narrative uses become predominant at the expense of the evaluative and epistemic ones.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPragmatics and society
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)667-694
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • 5141 Sociology

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