, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 1619–1634 | Cite as

The evolution of research article titles: the case of Journal of Pragmatics 1978–2018

  • Zhijun LI
  • Jinfen XUEmail author


Previous studies seldom investigated the evolution of research article titles in pragmatics. Based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of 650 research article titles, this study depicts the evolutionary trends of research article titles published in the Journal of Pragmatics regarding their length, lexical density, structural constructions and semantic content since the establishment of the journal in 1977. Our findings identified a trend towards longer titles with higher lexical density, an increasing preference for compound constructions over nominal-group and full sentence constructions, and a more prevalent presentation of information about research method/design in addition to the topic in titles over the past four decades. These findings suggest that research article titles published in the journal appear to be diachronically more informative.


Research article title Evolution Title length Lexical density Structural construction Semantic content 



This work was supported by the Social Science Research Foundation of Fujian Province, China (Project No. FJ2016B263), the Innovative Pragma-rhetoric Team Program of Huaqiao University (Project No. 600005-Z17X0191) and Apple-Reading Seminar of Huaqiao University (Project No. 18YJG57).


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Foreign LanguagesHuaqiao UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Foreign LanguagesHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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