How to Write an American Death Notice: Some Guidelines for Novice Obituarists


The article aims at helping non-native speakers of English to write death notices, following the requirements of American tradition of the genre. It is based on the theoretical research into the genre, carried out by its author, who analyzed 1076 contemporary New York Times notices, according to Moves and Steps model of genre analysis by J. Swales and V. Bhatia. Having distinguished the death notice from the obituary, the author presents the communicative functions of the genre and its structure, consisting of seven moves, each made up of one to seven steps. Their presentation and brief analysis is accompanied by 100 patterns and
templates, which allows intermediate (B1–B2) students of English to create their own texts successfully step by step.


American obituary; death notice; genre analysis

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Bhatia, V. (1993). Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman.

Cebrat, G. (2016). Death Notice as a Genre: An Analysis of The New York Times Online Edition. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).

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Marzol, C.I. (2006). Dying for more: generic functionality and the representation of social actors in British and Spanish obituaries headlines. In: C. Neumann, R. Alastrué, & C. Auría (eds) Actas de V Congreso Internacional AELFE. Proceedings of the 5th International AELFE Conference. pp. 119–126.

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Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. (1961). Cambridge: Mass.: Riverside Press.


Published : 2016-09-07

CebratG. (2016). How to Write an American Death Notice: Some Guidelines for Novice Obituarists. Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition, 2(2). Retrieved from

Grzegorz Cebrat
Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Zawodowa w Tarnowie  Poland

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