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Carrying a Torch

The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay in the British and Chinese Media


Mei Yang

The Olympic torch relay held before the 2008 Games was the moment when East met West on the media stage. This book analyses the torch relay and its representation, offering a discursive construction of Olympic ideology by and through the media in both East and West. The author argues that the discourse used by the media in different social contexts reflected the diversity of ideologies and cultural values with which the Olympic flame was imbued.
A corpus-based Discourse-Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Analysis (DHA-CDA) is applied to media discourse in the United Kingdom and in China to examine the complexity, contradiction and conflicts in linguistic interpretations of Olympic ideology. Corpora drawn from the China Daily, BBC News and The Guardian are described, interpreted in their linguistic contexts, and then explained in terms of the broader historical and socio-political contexts surrounding the dynamic life of the Olympic torch relay. This unique study sheds light on the significance of the Olympic Games for East-West media discourse and analysis.
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Chapter 6: Frequency and Concordance Analysis



In this chapter we will first make explicit the steps involved in analysing the data and the criteria for selecting particular lexical items. We will then analyse in depth the selected linguistic manifestations of media discourse surrounding the Olympic Torch Relay.

Olympism as an ideology manifested in media discourse is the object of this research, and media coverage of the Torch Relay is subject to scrutiny in this study. In this chapter we will systematically identify and explicate the obscure and complex ideological foundations beneath what are generally considered ‘obvious’ phenomena and thus reflect the linguistic struggles and contradictions inherent in the 2008 Torch Relay media coverage. Given that Olympism is manifested, especially through media discourse, as an ideology, various and sometimes contradictory linguistic interpretations represent it. This was particularly evident in the media confrontation between China and Britain during the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay. Different constructions of Olympism may be acceptable in certain contexts but disagreeable in others, and such language confrontation in the media reflects ideological differences emanating from the different historical and socio-political backgrounds (i.e. a tradition of liberalism vs. one of harmony in this study).

Based on the analytical framework discussed above, the analysis comprised five steps: a frequency analysis, a concordance analysis, a comparative ← 105 | 106 → study, a diachronic study, and, finally, a comparative historical and socio-political study. The first two steps are quantitative descriptions; the third and fourth steps are both quantitative and qualitative interpretations, and...

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