Negative connotations in adjectives versus nouns
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This study investigates the extent to which a difference in grammatical form—e.g., noun or adjective—can convey a difference in a speaker's attitude toward elements of the discourse. The distributions of adjectival poor (i.e. poor people) and the nominal the poor are observed from two separate news networks, Fox and MSNBC, representing opposing sides of the political spectrum. A hybrid analysis, linguistic in nature but incorporating aspects of mass communication theory, compares the instances of adjectival poor with nominalized poor between the two networks and then uses context, discourse analysis, and media framing to illustrate the differences. No major differences were found in the frequency of forms between the two networks. While the noun phrase the poor seems to occur in more sympathetic situations, a multitude of factors including the topic, context, and speakers' tone coexist with the choice of noun or adjective and affect the way the term may be interpreted.