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Linguistic discourse analysis as a tool for analyzing political communication

Martina Temmerman



This article –intended for non-linguists– introduces linguistic discourse analysis as a method for unravelling political communication mediated by mass media. After having explained what linguistic discourse analysis exactly means for me, I go on to illustrate a number of resources in this kind of analysis. With the development of linguistics, the toolkit for the analysis of the communicative roles of language has expanded over the years. Whereas early critical linguistics focused on elements like lexical structure and transitivity of the clause (e.g. the use of the passive voice), more recent linguistic analyses have pointed out the usefulness of analyzing phenomena like deixis, hedging, evidentiality and shift in footing. The elements discussed are illustrated with examples from earlier research and from a recent interview with a Flemish right-wing politician. A careful and detailed linguistic analysis helps to reconstruct the ideational and interpersonal meanings a speaker consciously or unconsciously conveys. It brings to the surface answers to questions like which actors speakers find important in an event and how they conceive the relationships between them; whether speakers are confident that what they are saying is true or likely and if they think it is acceptable; how speakers perceive their own identity and membership of a group; whether speakers want to take the responsibility for what they are saying, and what is the source of their information.

Keywords: political communication, linguistic discourse analysis, pragmatics, journalistic interviews, transitivity, lexical structure, deixis, hedging, footing, evidentiality


Bibliography: Temmerman, Martina: Linguistic discourse analysis as a tool for analyzing political communication, PCS, 1-2-2016, pp. 119-142.


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