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Language Variants

Sprache; Taal; Kieli; Idioma.

Usage Notes

The language in which newspapers were published was shaped by various factors including the culture of reprinting, which meant that articles published in Europe were often simply reproduced for a colonial audience, and vice versa. This practice, along with class-based language preferences and the efficiency of reusing text without translation, tended to reinforce the centrality of particular dialects or languages within multi-lingual states. For example, though the first newspaper to be published in Wales appeared in 1804 (The Cambrian), the first Welsh language weekly was not published until 1814 (Seren Gomer, founded by Joseph Harris). Similarly, in Finland, all three of the oldest newspapers still retain their original Swedish titles, while the oldest daily newspaper in Finland is the Swedish language publication Åbo Underrättelser, founded 1824. In colonial spaces, language homogeneity was likewise encouraged by the dominance or early appearance of government gazettes. As the provincial and colonial press expanded, so did the use of dialect and different languages, including the printing of non-European language newspapers within European colonies. Nor were newspapers necessarily monolingual; Spanish, German and Italian newspapers in Australia and the United States included English-language articles and multilingual communities, such as New Orleans, support bilingual publications. Editions of a newspaper in other languages are often considered separate publications in databases because they will be published on separate dates.

English has become the lingua franca for XML, and all databases other than HNDM use English to categorise all their metadata.

In regard to a sense of style and word choice, each newspaper attempted to maintain a consistent tone throughout its pages. This is exemplified by the uneven move from anonymity to signature in the nineteenth century; established daily newspapers were some of the last to adopt signed articles. Debates about the status of newspapers as literature shaped the kind of language employed in the press, depending on how each publication positioned itself.


“the dialect speech of middle-class speakers was more likely to be transcribed into ‘Queen’s English’, apart from the heckles of the working-class crowd. Vernon sees this as a sign of the closer association between Standard English and power, and the growing power of print over oral media.” [Hobbs 2018, 309]

“Omalla kielellä ei ole ollut valtiovallan poliittista tukea.”

“Place trumped class in the changing discourse of local newspapers, as a theoretically neutral technique—dialect—was used to include rather than exclude. This was part of complex changes in the relationship between spoken and written language, and the crossover between literary and journalistic techniques.” [Hobbs 2018, 302]

“Because of the timely nature of newspapers, very few newspapers are considered to be translations.” [Sagendorf and Moore, 40]