Comparing by purpose

Imagine two different chocolate bars. They both need to satisfy the customer, but one might do it through a biscuit centre and one through the texture of the chocolate. They have the same purpose but different ways of achieving it.

One way to link texts is through the purpose they are aiming to achieve. Two different texts may:

  • have the same purpose but achieve it in different ways
  • have the same purpose but a different subject
  • have the same subject but a different purpose

When comparing texts, consider both what they have in common and what is different about them.

If they have the same purpose:

  • Do they use similar techniques? For example, two newspaper articles could use exaggeration to present completely different viewpoints of the same topic.
  • Are they aimed at the same kind of audience or different ones? Within two advertisements, the writers will aim to sell their product but will have a different target audience in mind.

If they have a different purpose but the same subject:

  • How do they treat it differently? For example, if you are analysing two newspaper articles about the same event in the news, how does the language show how the writer has aimed their writing for a particular audience?
  • How have the writers shown a different opinion towards the same subject?

Example

Look at these headlines, from The Mirror and The Telegraph, from articles reporting the same story. They have the same purpose – to inform people about the landing of a space probe on a comet.

quote
Rock starThe Mirror
quote
European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft lands probe on cometThe Telegraph

Analysis

  • The Mirror have used a pun, which grabs the attention, playing on the idea that a comet is a rock, and this is a terrific achievement – so it’s like a ‘star’. But a ‘rock star’ plays on ideas of celebrity. It’s a much shorter headline, which might be more able to grab the attention of the reader, but does not necessarily inform them of the topic of the article.
  • The Telegraph headline provides a detailed level of information to the reader to indicate the topic of the headline. The headline provides the reader with the name of the spacecraft which adds to the educational tone of the headline. The newspaper uses a longer sentence rather than making use of a particular technique, instead relying on the reader's interest in the topic to attract them to read.
  • The difference in the approaches could be because of their different audiences – The Telegraph might be assuming that their audience is already interested in science, whereas The Mirror might feel they have to attract a reader that may not be interested in the topic of the article.