Syntactic complexity of online newspaper editorials across countries

Dwi Indarti


This study attempts to reveal the syntactic complexity of online English newspaper editorials across countries. The data was taken from ten online English newspaper and was analyzed by using L2 syntactic complexity analyzer (Lu, 2010). Second Language Syntactic Complexity Analyzer (L2SCA) program displays fourteen syntactic complexity measures. Those editorials were derived from ten online newspaper in the USA, UK, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Singapore. All the editorials were written in English by the local newspaper editors, so they contain varied production units and grammatical structures from native English writers and non-native English writers. The results of the study reveal that the non-native online newspaper, The Vaguardgnr from Nigeria, shows the most complexity of sentence structure as indicated in the length of production unit which correlate with higher levels of proficiency. Meanwhile, the native online newspaper, The New York Times from USA, displays the highest score of subordination, which indicate complexity at the beginning and intermediate levels of proficiency. Hence, in most newspapers, the purpose of editorials is to influence the opinions of readers on some controversial issues.


online newspapers; editorials; syntactic complexity

Full Text:



Ai, H., & Lu, X. (2013). A corpus-based comparison of syntactic complexity in NNS and NS university students’ writing. In A. Diaz-Negrillo, N. Ballier & P. Thomson (Eds.), Automatic treatment and analysis of learner corpus data (pp. 249-264). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

AL-Harahsheh, A. M. A., & Obeidat, M. M. (2014). Semantic and syntactic challenges in translating political news reports from English into Arabic and vice versa: A linguistic approach. Arab World English Journal, 3, 116-123.

Bardovi‐Harlig, K. (1992). A second look at t‐unit analysis: Reconsidering the sentence. TESOL Quaterly, 26(2), 390-395.

Bonyadi, A. (2011). Linguistic manifestations of modality in newspaper editorials. International Journal of Linguistics, 3(1), 1-13.

Casanave, C. P. (1994). Language development in students’ journals. Journal of Second Language Writing, 3(3), 179-201.

Connor, U. (1996). Contrastive rhetoric: Cross-cultural aspects of second-language writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cooper, T. C. (1976). Measuring written syntactic patterns of second language learners of German. The Journal of Educational Research, 69(5), 176-183.

Couture, B. (1992). Categorizing professional discourse: Engineering, administrative, technical/professional writing. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 6(1), 5-37.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Doyle, G. (2014). Media ownership: Diversity versus efficiency in a changing technological environment. In V. A. Ginsburgh & D. Throsby (Eds.), Handbook of the economics, art and culture (pp. 357-377). Holland: North Holland.

Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language performance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18(3), 299–323.

Goins, A., Rauh, C., Tarner, D., & Holten, D. V. (2016). Workplace writing: A handbook for common workplace genres and professional writing. Kansas: New Prairie Press.

Graesser, A. C., McNamara, D. S., Louwerse, M. M., & Cai, Z. (2004). Coh-metrix: Analysis of text on cohesion and language. Behavioral Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 36(2), 193-202.

Gunnarsson, B. L., Linell, P., & Nordberg, B. (1997). The construction of professional Discourse. Chicago: Addison Wesley Longman.

Hunt, K. W. (1965). Grammatical structures written at three grade levels (Vol. 3). Champaign, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Hunt, K. W. 1970. “Do sentences in the second language grow like those in the first?”. TESOL Quarterly, 4(3), 195-202.

Hynds, E. C. (1990). Changes in editorials: A study of three newspapers, 1955-1985. Journalism Quarterly, 67(2), 2-12.

Indarti, D. (2018). Patterns of rhetorical organization in the Jakarta Post opinion articles. Studies in English Language and Education, 5(1), 69-84.

Izadi, F., & Saghaye-Biria, H. (2007). A discourse analysis of elite American newspaper editorials: The case of Iran’s nuclear program. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 31(2), 140-165.

Jenkins, S., & Hinds, J. (1987). Business letter writing: English, French, and Japanese. TESOL Quarterly, 21(2), 327-349.

Knox, J. (2007). Visual-verbal communication on online newspaper home pages. Virtual Communication, 6(3), 19-53.

Lee, F. L. F., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2006). Newspaper editorial discourse and the politics of self-censorship in Hong Kong. Discourse & Society, 17(3), 331-358.

Long, S. H., Fey, M. E., & Channell, R. W. (2008). Computerized profiling (Version 9.7.0). Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University.

Lowrey, T. M. (2008). The effects of syntactic complexity on advertising persuasiveness. Journal of Consumer Psycology, 7(2), 187-206.

Lu, X. (2009). Automatic measurement of syntactic complexity in child language acquisition. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 19(2), 313-350.

Lu, X. (2010). Automatic analysis of syntactic complexity in second language writing. International Journal of Corpus Linguistic, 15(1), 474-496.

Lu, X., & Ai, H. (2015). Syntactic complexity in college-level English writing: Differences among writers with diverse L1 backgrounds. Journal of Second Language Writing, 29, 16-27.

Masroor, F. (2013). Argumentative strategies of newspaper editorials in English across cultures. The Asian ESP Journal, 9(3), 35-72.

Masroor, F., & Ahmad, U. K. (2017). Directives in English language newspaper editorials across culture. Discourse, Context & Media, 20, 83-93.

Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2000). Effectiveness of L2 instruction: A research synthesis and quantitative meta‐analysis. Language Learning, 50(3), 417-528.

Ortega, L. (2003). Syntactic complexity measures and their relationship to L2 proficiency: A research synthesis of college-level L2 writing. Applied Linguistics, 24(4), 492-518.

Richardson, J. D., & Lancendorfer, K. M. (2004). Framing affirmative action: The influence of race on newspaper responses to the niversity of Michigan cases. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 9(4), 74-94.

Sinclair, J. (Ed.). (1995). Collins COBUILD English language dictionary. London: Harper Collins.

Smith, J. E. (2005). Content differences between print and online newspapers. (Master), University of South Florida, South Florida. Retrieved from

Vie, S. (2018). Effective social media use in online writing classes through universal design for learning (UDL) principles. Computers and Composition, 49, 61–70.

Vyatkina, N. (2013). Specific syntactic complexity: Developmental profiling of individuals based on an annotated learner corpus. The Modern Language Journal, 97(S1), 11-30.

Wijayanti, W. (2017). Syntactic complexity in the reading materials of English for academic purposes levels 1-3. Language and Language Teaching Journal, 20(2), 102-115.

Wolfe-Quintero, K., Inagaki, S., & Kim, H.-Y. (1998). Second language development in writing: Measures of fluency, accuracy, and complexity. Honolulu: University of Hawaii.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2018 Syiah Kuala University

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.