Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics

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Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics
This paper will first present a synthesis of the inseparable links between discourse and political activity; secondly it will outline some linguistic models and approaches that have proved, or should prove, useful in analysing political language. 1. Discourse in politics 1.1 Language and political processes The claim that underlies this paper, that politics and language are inextricably linked, is perhaps little more than a truism. Indeed, it would be difficult to identify any sphere of social or institutional life in which language does not play a pivotal role – from education to religion, from work (in the post-fordist world) to leisure, from buying to selling. To quote Threadgold (1986: 44): Acts of communication are forms of social discourse which maintain and regulate social activities, and define status and power relations. As such they are part of and a metaphor for the social actions and belief systems of a given culture. But together with education, religion and law, politics is one of those spheres of institutional life in which language is largely, although not exclusively, constitutive of its actions. Politics is conducted in and through talk and texts and such talk and texts enact political action. Politics does of course have material and non-linguistic goals – let us say, for the sake of simplification, that they are to regulate the distribution of resources, in a concrete as well as an abstract sense, in a given society. There are also means of conducting politics that are non-linguistic – war is an obvious example. However, it is difficult to imagine political action that is neither, on the one hand, founded on language nor, on the other, a result of linguistic breakdown and at the same time a premise for further linguistic action. For example, in the case of military aggression, wars break out when talks break down, and once a war, which may be conducted with words as well as weapons, has reached its conclusion, it is followed by renewed linguistic activity, in the form, for example, of peace treaties and on occasions, war trials. 1.2. Language and the construction of the state Let us consider, rather allegorically, the role of language in the formation and evolution of a sovereign state. A state may be founded on an initial declaration of its independence and the principles on which it is to be formed, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, or it may be founded on legal precedents, that is to say, on authoritative and authorized written texts. If there is a solemn declaration, it will most likely have drawn on the writings of political philosophers, which, I would argue, are not codifications of pre-linguistic concepts that were simply “out there” but are elaborated in and through linguistic structures. Such concepts are then appropriated and re-elaborated by an emerging social and political force, which discusses, negotiates and rewrites their wordings and meanings. The foundation document that is produced is subsequently used to persuade and/or to convince other social actors, at home and abroad, and to legitimate and to justify the new social order that it foresees. But this new social order will require some form of regulation and perhaps a constitution will be drafted, based on previous texts and/or constitutional literature, and amended through discussion and debate, which, in a final written form, will not only establish how certain relationships are to be regulated but also create institutions for this purpose. For example a constitution may create institutions such as legislative bodies and elaborate concepts of representation. Legislatures and representative methods for choosing their members engender aggregations based on linguistically mediated affinities between socially and politically positioned subjects; but they will also create competition between different groups, which seek to gain support from those who have been designated as electors and such an endeavour will be conducted in and through language via political arenas such as pamphlets or public speeches. True enough, political agreements may be sealed through the material exchange of goods and services, but even such an exchange will inevitably be preceded and followed by a linguistic exchange, since otherwise it would probably serve very little. 1.3. Language, policy and law Legislatures are forums for talk and text – policies are formulated, perhaps in an executive body or among political groupings, and they are drafted into bills by specialised personnel; they are debated publicly in large and small settings, such as the full chamber and select committees. Alliances are constructed among participating groups, either through public or private discourse, and majorities are formed; a vote is held and what began as a policy proposal becomes enshrined in the law, which commands the obedience of the citizens. But citizens may also contest these norms and the constitution may also have formed an institution which allows them a form of redress – a supreme court, for example. On the supreme court will sit a panel of judges who will be asked to interpret the language of the contested law and/or its application, perhaps on the basis of its conformity with the supreme law, perhaps on the basis of other social norms. Constitutions, like language itself, are metastable; that is to say that their stability is guaranteed by their capacity to change. Professions which have the function of mediating between the citizens and judges arise, forming a caste of persons whose function is to produce texts designed to convince and to persuade an institutional authority. But here, of course, we are moving away from the sphere of politics and into that of law. 1.4. Language and mediating structures

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But even in dictatorships. in some nations.(L)anguage. for example.first the radio. are invented. Because of the media. another profession based on linguistic exchange is created . 1. A new form of law is developed. which means that. and all established totalitarian regimes maintain strict control over the press. In liberal democracies. justify and legitimate their actions to parliament but they may prefer to do so first to the media. as literacy rates increase. and those that govern are accountable to the governed. Defining political language All these activities can be the subject of linguistic inquiry and the object of such study constitutes the empirical evidence of the 2 di 9 09/06/2010 15. In their infancy. Political actors. Political parties and other groups stage press conferences and publish press releases and their leaders subject themselves to interviews. To quote Threadgold (1986: 44) once more: . permitting those groups who oppose their actions to express their dissent. dominant discourse is said to be achieved through a process of consensus building. on the other hand. are constructed in and through the social meaning making practices of that community. at elections they prepare manifestos and organise public events to promote themselves. they also have to interact with other states. In other words. in order for such systems to maintain stability. which we might characterise as the typical systems of knowledge and belief in a community. whose goal is to regulate the relationships between nations and whose effect is to create a further layer of political discourse. in other words. as action. Discourse and action Obviously. certain forms of linguistic behaviour are necessary in order to perform them. through the talks held between envoys. so do political parties.it/articoli/bayley_print. are characterised by the same wide range of institutions and discourse structures. Parties meet periodically. dialogue between the media and the parties. political institutions also act in a non verbal sense: they raise money and they spend it. at least as important as the institutions. From these media.mediazionionline. then television and finally the internet . But such actions are governed by the concept of “due process”. international law. 1. but the objective of such activities are to gain control over the discourse. through periodic elections.6. who. As the media develop as a result of new technologies . they try to control the boundaries of discourse. these media are fairly rudimentary – they contain few reports and have a narrow circulation . Some governments have even practised the systematic elimination of social or ethnic groups. printing technology is improved and technologies for rapidly communicating data. but they may also may resort to physical actions. thus depriving the legislature of some of its sovereignty. thus becoming de facto an instrument of political accountability.they themselves become an arena for political activity. they require shared values. seek their attention and submit to interviews in order to gain access to this new public arena. and citizens.. at home or at public meeting places. in a preordained sequence. Fundamental rights may be denied or suspended and individuals or groups may be subjected to arbitrary detention and torture. for example they can jail them and.the journalist. among whose functions are those of informing the citizens on the activities of the institutions. in both the public and the private sphere. on what can be said and what cannot. But in order to do this they must perform the appropriate linguistic acts. which is not regulated exclusively by the formal institutions. Governments may repress discourse. and this kind of talk is part of political socialization. other groupings. At the same time as the press develops. Governments continue to explain. once again. such as withholding labour or staging disruptive events. and one of the results of war may be the creation of supranational bodies whose aims include maintaining future peace by keeping channels of communication open. not even the majority of them. are very complex indeed and go beyond the scope of the political institutions in a strict sense. News programmes are available 24 hours a day and political information is available at the click of a mouse. and the persons who occupy them. who had perhaps once scorned journalists. like the press. Finally. ensures that certain ways of talking and doing are maintained. at the workplace. retain the power to replace them. the first act after a coup d'état is very often the occupation of broadcasting structures. a basic consensus on what is acceptable and what is not.08 . which intrinsically and since its inception has been a primarily linguistic activity. and construct their own discourse around them. for example. They may act through language. not all forms of government. whose functions include mediating between the institutions. in much the same way as individuals engage in phatic communication in order to maintain social relationships. The typical ways of seeing the world. to discuss policy.5. guaranteeing the stability of the social system. Newspapers acquire power and authority not only because they inform the public but also because they form public opinion and set the public agenda. Of course.Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. although in this case it normally goes by the name of propaganda or indoctrination. is characterised by multiple layers of discourse: dialogue in and between the institutions.htm Independently of these institutions. recontextualizing and translating institutional language into a language of their own. However.but they rapidly grow in popularity. In parliament they organise themselves to vote together. and dialogue between the media and the citizens. but at the expense of other models of saying and doing which might threaten any stability. tyrannies seek to impose their own discourse on their subjects through coercion. Some nations may elaborate and undersign treaties which bind them together and commit them to each others' mutual defence. political language is still important. Institutions also create sanctions for their citizens. citizens may gain new perspectives on the affairs of the institutions. dialogue between the media and the institutions. And so politics. execute them. The discourse practices that come into play in order to guarantee a set of shared values. Crises arise and nations may go to war. But political parties are not the only aggregations that develop. which have the purpose of maintaining good relationships and securing agreements. such as the telegraph.. other organisations develop. such as trades unions and support and interest groups are formed in order to exercise some influence over the decision making bodies. states and their institutions do not use language merely to regulate domestic affairs. They mediate between one another and between citizens and institutions and add another layer of discourse to political action.

They also have the advantage of being relatively transparent. on the other a single text cannot be considered as an autonomous act of communication. many apparently non-political institutions. However. Because of this. and to avoid malign interpretations. and then subsequently. Such institutions are regulated by large administrations which produce their own form of public discourse. it is clear that a great deal of discourse types are in operation – from the academic paper to casual conversation – and while a single text may be considered individually. be seen as engaging in politics. social conflict. Such a process may originate in institutions like universities or government “think tanks” in which certain ideological precepts – such as the idea that taxation should be progressive in order to mitigate the effects of a market economy and to redistribute wealth – are challenged and overturned. such as schools. etc. a considerable amount of work has been conducted on media bias. It would be feasible to identify a set of “canonical” forms of political discourse: policy papers. Non-institutional actors in social conflict may. Language and Politics: theoretical grounding 3 di 9 09/06/2010 15. and on television. In the institutions. leaders of political parties. environmental groups.htm discourse practices that are at the very root of political processes (Chilton. parties. at the following election. The policy document will be translated into the language of a bill. business associations. Finally. the workplace and public meeting places are all sites at which political discourse may take place. A wider definition would include the activities of those organizations that belong to civil society and which are not necessarily regulated by the state but at the same time compete for resources – trades unions. In this rather simplistic reconstruction of the political processes that lead to political change. and how institutions have defined discourse processes. Moreover. but also in the private sphere. communication studies. current affairs programmes and talk shows. All this will be re-elaborated in the newspapers. it will be discussed in the family and at the work-place. most. For example. etc. universities and hospitals are the products of public policy. Research has been conducted on electoral language and discourse analysis is capable of illustrating how candidates for public office linguistically construct themselves. on news broadcasts. For instance. It could also include the activity of the media because they produce discourse on. Any instance of political discourse is but a part of a much wider network of intertextual relations. but at the same time they can also be interpreted as being political. politics. the minister responsible will give interviews and a “spin-doctor” will make statements to present the document in its most favourable light. For the discourse analyst. A group within a political party may work in order to make such a policy part of its official programme and may present a motion at the party's annual congress. parliament and parties. such as the changes in the discourse of educational institutions. 2. Fairclough analyses a number of linguistic and social phenomena. where it will be discussed and debated both in public and private spheres. the policy will become part of the party's manifesto and speeches will be made for (and against) it. ‘interpret my question as aggressive or friendly'. it could be defined as a struggle for power among the members of these institutions through elections. candidates for office. a member of the opposition may put a question to the minister.mediazionionline. ‘register my opposition to this proposal'. Let us imagine the discourse practices that accompany or constitute the enactment of public policy such as. the discourse of pressure and interest groups. say. However. on the other. Other forms of political discourse – media discourse. should be able to throw some light on how linguistic practices have come to define institutions. political socialization takes place not just in the public sphere. Once adopted. which. and in this form it will be debated in parliament. which is in turn determined by ideological choices. Such phenomena may be ascribed to social change. for example. but also because such change is the result of a complex set of political and ideological discourse practices. fulfilling their role of distributing resources. government press releases or press conferences. In its most simple definition. For example. although we would not necessarily expect a politician to be perfectly “honest”. and international relations. because it is a measure that will affect all citizens in some way or another. but a wide and diverse set of discourses.08 . Bill Clinton's masterly performance in televised debates and his political success because too many discursive events are in play. in more simple language. he claims are transforming the role of student into that of customer or client. in the form of news reports and editorials. analyzed and compared to similar instances. similarly. it may be argued that reducing taxation on high incomes will eventually benefit the less wealthy sectors of the population because it will create work. parliamentary discourse. In the meantime. on the effects of the measure on public spending. party manifestos (or platforms). as well as helping us to understand how language is used in specific domains. the home.it/articoli/bayley_print. members of parliament. while on the one hand political discourse can be broken down into different registers. and these pronouncements will be reformulated in many different ways in the media. To complement this. For this reason. or registers that can be classified as forms of political language.. Once the party has achieved power. such as government. the discourse analyst must beware of drawing strong political conclusions from the study of single texts. But given that politics can be defined in both a wide and a narrow sense. for example. although not all. it would be mistaken to posit a strong causal relationship between. Its results could be considered as complementary to the study of political science. but it would require a much wider interdisciplinary study to understand its possible effects. Linguistic inquiry into political discourse. for example. ‘give me your vote'. parliamentary procedures and propaganda. sociology. instances of canonical political discourse have the advantage of being public talk “on the record” and thus readily available to be collected.Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. it is necessary to determine what can be defined as political discourse. the discourse of administrative bodies – could be considerable as forms of intermediate political discourse. it should be quite obvious that there is no such thing as political language. 2002: 4). a reform of fiscal policy aimed at lowering taxes on high incomes. ministerial speeches. electoral speeches. In his book Discourse and Social Change (1992). not only because education is one of the ways through which resources are distributed. And finally there is what we may call “grassroots” political discourse – talk and discussion about politics in the private sphere. They are all characterized by the fact that they are spoken or written by (or for) primary political actors – members of the government or the opposition. in the op-ed pages of a newspaper. it is possible to analyze how this is achieved. and this needs to be taken into consideration. it is unquestionably part of a wider discursive context. Such an idea may first be published in learned journals. on most occasions his or her purposes are reasonably clear – ‘accept the efficacy and opportunity of this policy proposal'. on the one hand. it will produce a policy document to be presented to the media. or genres. and models will be elaborated to demonstrate this. asking for clarifications. politics is limited to the activity of the institutions.

or CDA. semiotics and cultural studies as well as. argues that its attempt to combine many different research traditions is at times contradictory and has led to what she has called “model muddle”. An overview of recent literature There has been a considerable amount of interest. It seeks to identify. in particular as regards interpretation and multiple readings of texts.Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. according to which readings and interpretations of texts vary according to the cognitive schemata of individual hearers or readers. age.htm 2. Caldas Coulthard and Coulthard. Atkinson (1984). Chilton.and recognition of this contributes to greater transparency. linguistics. local and global semantics. being explicitly committed and engaged. by reference to what the analyst assumes in advance to be the writer's ideological position” (1998: 143). 1996. The work of van Dijk emphasises the role of personal and social knowledge and belief and thus adds a cognitive element to CDA. I shall outline three research traditions which.3. The principal argument against this line of reasoning is that the analyst is necessarily a socially and politically positioned subject – the observer is part of the theory (Chilton 2002: 6) . How is it possible. Wodak and Van Dijk (2000). Linguistics has not been the only discipline to investigate the relationship between language and politics. 1997b). 1979. Secondly. because political discourse is a broad macro-category. Fairclough (2000). The latter have largely dedicated their attention to lexical items. 2. to take on board the relativity and indeterminacy of Foucault and yet still to claim to be able to make authentic readings? Widdowson in two articles published in 1998 and 2000 makes a rather trenchant attack on CDA. Martin argues that alongside critical discourse analysis. of course. needs to pay much more attention to cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. a rather large distance between the empirical. Critical Discourse Analysis. Connolley (1993) Merelman (1993).2. The genesis of CDA can be traced back to the end of the 1970s. it will have to take into consideration discourse “that inspires. despite asserting her sympathy for the CDA project. the language of social conflict. Bollettieri Bosinelli (1985). in particular to British ‘critical linguistics' (Fowler et al. gender. Chilton (2005) argues that mainstream CDA. Miller (1993: 401-408). moreover. Partington (2002). 1984). social psychology. These three features are not always easy to combine. and not limiting itself to idealisations and abstractions. they need a grammar that extends beyond the limits of the clause. Wilson (1990). CDA is socially and politically committed and engaged. language is a form of social practice. De Beaugrande (2001) presents an articulated critique of Widdowson. studies on political language have included investigations into very different sub-genres such as electoral language. he says. van Dijk 1997a. mention could be made of Rossini Favretti (1980). and. in particular symbols. the aim of the early work in critical linguistics was to identify the social meanings that were expressed through lexis and syntax and to consider the role that language plays in creating and reinforcing ideologies. Ilyin and Mey (1998). CDA has been criticised from a number of points of view. discourse that we like. and Kress and Hodge 1979) and French discourse analysis (Pêcheux. Chilton and Schäffner (2002). and so on. is looking only for textual confirmation of a bias that is presumed to exist in a given text. But CDA is also interdisciplinary and seeks to combine elements from diverse disciplines such as history. a complete list of books and articles that could be fitted into this category would be very long indeed. the language of parliament. Its underlying presupposition was that linguistic choices relate to ideological positioning. Edelman (1964. 2. heartens. in my opinion. should be fruitful for the linguistic analysis of political texts but which are often considered to be mutually incompatible: Critical Discourse Analysis. such as Habermas. Geis (1987). Systemic Functional Linguistics and (small) Corpus Linguistics. Bayley (2004) and Chilton (2004). sociology. argumentation structures. slogans and metaphors. the link between text and society is mediated by ‘orders of discourse' – the network of conventions that underlie and legitimise discourse practices. Elder & Cobb (1983). CDA claims to be able to identify ‘inherent meanings' through systematic discourse analysis. arguing. that language study over the last 25 years has been trying to come to grips with the relationship between language and ‘reality'. the language of diplomacy and international relations. which may be determined by factors such as class. It has drawn on the work of a variety of scholars whose principal interest has not been language. however. Miller and Vasta (1997). For CDA (like other schools of functional linguistics). Finally. in the study of how language functions within specific institutional contexts. in order to maintain credibility and utility.08 . Bayley and Miller (1993). party political language. Shapiro (1982. accusing it of what amounts to intellectual dishonesty.mediazionionline. “are vicariously inferred from the analysis itself. Blommaert and Bulcaen (1998). we need positive discourse analysis. similar interest has been shown within political science.it/articoli/bayley_print. 1977). in the strictest sense.1. Depending on how broadly we were to define politics. O'Barr & O'Barr (1976). 1982). theoretical and conceptual standpoints of linguists and political scientists on language related questions. Carbò (1996). Linguists have used more complex analytical tools and it has been generally recognised that linguistic approaches to politics require particular analytical constructs: For example they need structures that create a link between language and the social context in which it is taking place. The analytical instruments that it uses include syntax.. For book-length linguistic studies on politics. Systemic Functional Linguistics 4 di 9 09/06/2010 15. pragmatics. etc. although their theoretical underpinnings are rather different from each other and from those of CDA today (for which see Fairclough 1995. The main accusation is that CDA. Fairclough (1989). inter alia. There is. and thirdly they need to be able to handle large quantities of linguistic data. The intentions of producers and consumers of texts. and social practice constructs social reality. Unlike other traditions. Stated very briefly. Volumes in which political scientists or political sociologists have tackled languagerelated questions include Lasswell & Leites (1949). 1997: 258). Feldman & De Landtsheer (1998). rhetorical styles and content analysis. a further criticism of CDA has come from Martin who has recently argued that if discourse analysis is to enact social change. The linguistic study of political discourse has been particularly associated with what has come to be known as Critical Discourse Analysis. De Landtsheer & Feldman (2000). Chilton (1985). for example. over the last sixty years. it sees itself as intervening on behalf of oppressed groups and against dominating groups. that cheers us along” and not just that which we dislike (1999: 38). “discourse is socially constitutive as well as socially shaped” (Fairclough and Wodak. cognition and contextual modelling. linguistic change in terms of social change and posits the fundamentally linguistic or discursive nature of power relations. In other words. ethnography. Despite the subjectivity of reception processes. Wodak (1989). Foucault and Bordieu. ethnicity.

1987. electoral speeches are an obvious example. eds. Finally language has to do these three things at the same time. Van Dijk. have been influenced by SFL. Evaluation in language is crucial in political discourse because it is essentially opinionated.. To cut appraisal theory down to its bare bones. conversation analysis. cognitive psychology and Foucault's discursive formation. are created in and through language and not merely encoded by it. Function in the SFL perspective. Halliday (1978). 2004a and 2004b). For an account of the functional aspects of SFL see Kress (1976).htm The second theoretical and descriptive framework that has a clear commitment to discourse analysis is Systemic Functional Linguistics (henceforth SFL).its model of context – which he sees as being an ill-assorted assembly of different concepts and as lacking what he sees as vital to CDA analysis. which is the major theoretical component of SFL. events. according to standard SFL thought.around us in terms of actions. it sees language as social practice but unlike CDA it seeks to present a unitary vision of the systems. Secondly. according to the intertextual tradition of that certain situation type. see Kress ed. tolerating the fuzziness of categories that this inevitably implies. the analytical tools that it has developed have been demonstrated to be capable of handling the complexity of political language analysis (see.it/articoli/bayley_print. through and by Thematic and Information systems and by non-structural relationships of cohesion. Ideational meanings are ‘realized' in the lexicogrammar (the system of wording) through the system of transitivity by and through which we can express actions. as Fowler put it. These functions are intrinsic to language but they are also related to the ‘context of situation'. which has addressed a wide variety of different text types. and to better understanding the interplay of interpersonal meaning and social relations in the model of language and the social we were developing. However. It is systemic. a great deal of publications within its framework have dealt with the theoretical modelling of language rather than with discourse analysis. engagement and graduation. Martin and Rose. The grammatical detail of SFL is perceived as being too great. structures and functions of language. furthermore. It should be said that the analysis of political texts. these functions of language are known as metafunctions and they are classified into the ideational (including experiential and logical). 1981 and Halliday and Fawcett. the semantic metafunctions and the grammatical systems (according to which. such as the relationship between the mode of discourse and thematic and 5 di 9 09/06/2010 15. that is being explored in SFL is that of appraisal. alongside resources for amplifying and engaging with these evaluations” (Martin 2000. especially in the area of solidarity” (Martin 2000.. A grammar is thus not arbitrary but motivated and its features can be explained by the uses to which a language is put. Within SFL.08 . however. 2004). spoken or hybrid – and in a certain rhetorical mode.. Van Dijk (2004) has been particularly critical of one of the fundamental pillars of SFL . while graduation deals with the force or intensity of the evaluation. relevance theory. and have included the term ‘social semiotic' as one of the components of CDA. so together with some concepts drawn from SFL. others are dressed in “informative” terms. Gricean cooperative principles. Furthermore. both with a view to understanding the rhetorical effect of evaluative lexis as texts unfold.] the semantic resources used to negotiate emotions. Thirdly language expresses the participant roles and statuses of speakers and the way speakers act or try to act on others.Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. objects relationships of time and space. or system of systems. Indeed. moreover.. However.. SFL derives from and is generally associated with the work of Michael Halliday and. judgements and valuations. Martin (1992) and Halliday (1994). the descriptive apparatus of SFL grammar “offers both more and less than is required” (1996: 8). “critical linguistics gets a very high mileage out of a small selection of linguistic concepts such as transitivity and nominalisation” (ibid.) but at the same time CDA theorists argue that other methodologies are more suitable and. the field activates the ideational metafunction which is realized in the grammar through the system of transitivity) may work in some cases – for example the tenor can be seen to relate to mood and modality – the correlations seem far less clear in other cases. Moreover. SFL is not incompatible with CDA in as much as it claims to provide a model through which we can interpret texts.mediazionionline. pragmatics. for example. It fundamentally has two aspects. 148). Engagement deals with subtle gradings of speaker commitment to what is said. Meanings. that is a cognitive component. 2002b. and so on. any text involves Speakers and Addressees whose roles and statuses are reflected in or constructed by the interchange between them. in a strict sense. This is known as the ‘tenor of discourse' and is realized in the grammatical systems of Mood and Modality. space and other “circumstances”. for example a statement by a Minister to a parliamentary chamber is often formulated as if it is the only reasonable explanation of a given situation (see Dibattista. states and their participants as well as other notions such as time. expressing not only individual identity but also social roles based on varying degrees of power and solidarity. for example. and this means that its grammar is based on the notion of paradigmatic choice and that grammar can be represented as an open-ended and (extremely large) interlocking network of options. 2003). many exponents of the CDA tradition. These various meanings are realized contemporaneously and thus linguistic units are to be seen as multifunctional. Kress and Fairclough. argues that although the hypothesized hook-up between the contextual configuration. the interpersonal and the textual metafunctions and together they represent the basic semantic system of a language – our potential to make meanings. it is functional: SFL posits that the relationship between a language and the social functions that its serves is reflected in the internal organisation of the language. every text takes place in a recognisable social event and concerns a particular subject matter. 1976. Appraisal is defined as “ [. Finally texts are transmitted through a certain channel – they may be oral. CDA makes use of speech-act theory. relating what is being said now to what has been said before as well as relating it to the context of situation in which it is being produced. while on the one hand many of its forms are transparently evaluative. 145) and its goal is to trace “ [. This is known as the ‘field of discourse' which is said to activate the ideational metafunction of language. like CDA. Secondly language has to express logical relationships such as ‘and' and ‘or'. actors. For the genesis of systemic theory. does not amount to an inventory of the things we do with language but with more general and abstract categories. is not the principal activity of SFL. Firstly language functions to interpret and to represent the world – real or imaginary . such as Fowler. A delicate model is required in order to tease out much evaluation and appraisal theory is proving to be a useful analytical construct for the study of political texts (see Miller 2002a. Halliday and Martin. This is known as the ‘mode of discourse' and is realized in the grammar. A further system. it identifies three systems: attitude. Attitude is further sub-divided into affect (emotional responses) judgement (moral evaluations of human behaviour) and appreciation (evaluations of things).] a comprehensive map of appraisal resources that we could deploy systematically in discourse analysis..

and many other findings of this kind of semantic prosody have been provided by the analysis of corpora. it highlights the very routine constrained nature of much language behaviour. Corpus Linguistics The third research tradition I shall mention is Corpus Linguistics (CL). with the ever-growing memory sizes and operational speed of computers and the greater and greater availability of text through the internet. bring about. and this alone might be enough to make it incompatible with CDA (but see Garzone and Santulli. this position is fully justified. Partington (1998).000 and 1. Should linguistic study be driven by a study of the data we find. Hoey ed. The size question also implies a claim for representativity – the more tokens a corpus contains. Baker. contains some 4. Biber. 2. McEnery and Wilson (1996). 1991: 29). on the other hand. see Aimer and Alternberg. using very large corpora. Perhaps the most important general claim made by the latter is that “corpus linguistics is finally reinstating observation. the complement of the verb provide is nearly always something desirable (Stubbs.the larger the corpus the better. in which the subjectivity of the analyst's reading position is candidly admitted. sampled in order to be maximally representative of the language variety under consideration” (McEnery and Wilson. that corpus linguistics definitively took off. 1999: 101-124). presents a case for the incorporation of corpus findings within existing linguistic theory. 2003) and. effect. Aston ed. Given some of the aims of CL. corpus linguistics has shown us that the meanings of words are not properties that can be found in dictionaries but are highly sensitive to their immediate linguistic context and may be said to have their own grammar. extremely varied. Work on corpora has demonstrated that language use is characterised by spectacular regularities of patterns. 1996: 173-4). For example. Moreover. the question of size.Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. Corpus Linguistics is an empirical approach to the study of language based on the computer assisted analysis of the actual patterns of language on the basis of a “finite-sized body of machine-readable texts. Its origins can be dated back to the 1960s with the construction of the Survey of English Language. Conversely. It can be expected that there will be a rapid expansion in both the number and size of linguistic corpora available. or corpus driven linguistics. There are also many other corpora which claim to represent languages other than English – such as the COSMAS corpus of almost 400 million running words of German developed by the Mannheim Institut für Deutsche Sprache . 10 million of which of spoken language. For example. which were corpora amounting to between 500.htm information systems. the position seems rather clear . but it was drawn from recordings made by just 125 informants and makes up less than 5% of the whole corpus. to my knowledge no general corpus dedicates a sufficiently large collection of spoken language. produce. The kind of linguistic information that a corpus can provide includes data on the relative frequencies of lexemes. Collecting this data. with SFL. Can 300 million words be said to be representative of a population or universe whose size nobody has been able to quantify? The definition of the dynamic. the claim may be too strong. Next we have the problem of corpus dimension. Francis and Tognini Bonelli eds (1993). their distributions across the corpus and the patternings of collocation and colligation associated with lexemes. potentially infinite and continuously expanding ‘population' of a language is in itself rather problematic. However. the London-Lund corpus and the LancasterOslo/Bergen corpus. (1993). (1991). two large-corpus projects have been realised: the Bank of English – a corpus developed at the University of Birmingham now amounting to over 400 million running words which is constantly being up-dated and controlled via a monitor corpus – and the British National Corpus – composed of 100 million running words. the more likely it is to represent a language. In Great Britain in particular. The third problem that discourse analysts may have with corpus linguistics concerns the nature of quantitative studies and the 6 di 9 09/06/2010 15. is no mean feat. following a top down deductive approach? The mainstream position is that corpus findings cannot be modelled onto existing theories of language and that we should always start with the data and postpone “the use of [abstract categories] for as long as possible” (Sinclair. induce. A third and perhaps fundamental feature which differentiates CL from the other two approaches is that it is not theory-driven but data-driven.000. Tucker (2005). For a basic bibliography of corpus linguistics. In discussing the use of corpora. Moreover. make [ ]”. Questions of this kind have also been raised within SFL itself (see Thompson. models and theories. unlike the traditions of CDA and SFL. eds. However.08 . occasion. But it was in the 1980s and 90s. findings from corpora demonstrate that the thing caused is nearly always something constructed as undesirable. Within mainstream CL. Hunston and Francis (2000). a distinction should be made between mainstream corpus linguistics and those discourse analysis which uses some of the tools of corpus linguistics. The data it provides us with are not merely quantitative but also qualitative. it must be admitted. A small corpus simply does not give us enough lexemes or enough instances of each to conduct sophisticated lexicographical or grammatical research. the Brown corpus. in particular. CL makes a claim to the objectivity of its findings and is concerned with questions such as the “replicability” of its analyses. in this case SFL. The British National Corpus. Stubbs (1996). and patterns of co-selection. 1996: 24).it/articoli/bayley_print. (1998). for example lexicography based on a huge quantity of authentic data. there is little agreement as to what the role of corpora should be vis-à-vis linguistic theory. Leitner. made up of 100 million running words. CL has not been associated with the analysis of political language but rather with the study of lexical and grammatical patterns in general language. Thus while the OED gives the following definition of the verb cause : “Be the cause of. Sinclair (1991). there are some basic theoretical assumptions that seem to make bridge-building between different approaches difficult. Indeed it is argued that starting from theory is likely to blinker the linguist and Tognini Bonelli (2001) has proposed an acronym for an independent discipline within linguistics – CDL. for the discourse analyst the role of small specialised corpora is fundamental. and Tognini Bonelli (2001).000 running words.mediazionionline. ed. However. as I shall claim later. and on a scale previously not feasible” (De Beaugrande. 2001: 115). (1992). Conrad. or delicate grammatical description deriving from the observation of large corpora.5 million running words of unscripted conversation. and Reppen. (2001).4. in other words should the procedures be bottom up and inductive? Or should corpora be used for verifying and correcting descriptions. (1992). in contrast to its creativity and individuality. Svartvik ed.

P. D. Chilton. Francis. R. However. 1996. (eds. J. Text and Technology: in Honour of John Sinclair . (ed. methodology and interdisciplinarity . and Coulthard. the war in Iraq) as it is discussed in various arenas. a particular kind of discourse (for example parliamentary language). Aston. Texts and Contexts of the American Dream: a Social Semiotic Study of Political Language .. of White House press briefings.08 . English Corpus Linguistics: Studies in Honour of Jan Svartvik . J.) 1991. [2 vols]. Chilton. T. Presidential Election 1984: an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of political discourse . The analyst may shift backwards and forward between the data provided by concordance findings and the texts themselves. The terms of political discourse . and that to understand a text we need to know something about the context of situation. P. or corpus-assisted discourse studies ( Partington. Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis . 2003) and while this may not satisfy mainstream corpus linguists. As the first section of this paper should have demonstrated. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. E. and Alternberg. London: Longman. to recover. Learning with Corpora . The language we find in a concordance line is no longer discourse. Chilton. R. Journal of Politics and Language 2 (1): 1-3. L. (eds. P. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.) 2005. Un estudio de caso en metolodogia de analisis de discurso .) 1985. 1993. the intertextual network that they fall into. Language and the Nuclear Arms Debate . and the LUISS of Rome (“Corpora and Discourse: a quantitative and qualitative analysis of political and media discourse on the conflict in Iraq in 2003”) which has as its starting point the construction of indexed and annotated corpora of discourse in the House of Commons and the House of representatives..Paul Bayley Analysing language and politics http://www. blends and the critical instinct”. 1996. Chilton. This is the spirit of the national research project current being conducted by the University of Siena. C. Bayley. (eds. and Mey. S. London: Pinter. it is taken for granted that meanings are made over long stretches of text and across texts. there is an enormous quantity of discourse that can reasonably be considered as falling in the broad macro-category of “political language” and a great deal of it is readily available. NJ: Princeton University Press 7 di 9 09/06/2010 15. (ed. and Bulcaen. U.) 2001. Bologna: CLUEB Baker M. Political Discourse in Transition in Europe 1989-1991 . Carbò.5. G. Princeton. 1993. Connolly. Amsterdam and Philadelphia. as he concedes. Political Linguistics . and Tognini Bonelli. the social positioning of speakers. R. what I shall argue is that the analysis of political language can be enhanced by adopting some of the tools and procedures of CL in what might be called small corpus discourse analysis. Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Parliamentary Discourse . if not impossible. Conrad. 1998. Bologna: Pitagora Caldas-Coulthard. it is a decontextualized abstraction. El discorso parlamentario mexicano entre 1920 y 1950. a particular period of time (such as the discourse of US Presidents since World War II). In a very large corpus this aspect of textual analysis is difficult. of British and US newspapers and of British. “Missing links in mainstream CDA: Modules. D. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. work with small corpora has shown that meanings that seem to be apparently clear in a concordance line often turn out to be very different when we see the line situated in its full context. P. London: Routledge. B. the University of Bologna at Forlì. Such corpora serve a twin function: they may serve to provide an entry point into the textual dimension of the corpora and they may also serve to verify the significance of the findings. Bologna: Pitagora. When Sinclair argues that corpus data should be studied from the bottom up. (ed. References Aijmer. the University of Bologna. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.) 2004. it is taken for granted that entire texts and not isolated examples should be studied. R. 19-51. M. Biber. & Miller. (eds.) 1985. Morley and Haarman eds. This is very difficult to achieve with large corpora. 2003.l V. 2005. US and Italian television news broadcasts. Ilyin. K. M. (eds.htm potential loss of the textual dimension of language that it necessarily involves. P. & Chilton P. and Reppen. S. C. a particular political issue (say.) 1993. P. M. Specialized corpora can be constructed in order to examine say. John Benjamins. G. it could provide a healthy corrective to the tendency in discourse analysis (of any theoretical persuasion) to focus on relatively small amounts of text.) 1998. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. In Wodak. Mexico: CISIAS and Collegio de Mexico. Blommaert. R. (ed. Within discourse analysis. Bayley.it/articoli/bayley_print.) 1998. and small corpora may be compared with large corpora in order to identify characterising traits. there is a price to pay for dealing with large quantities: a qualitative study of language implies a considerable amount of insight into the texts themselves and the conditions of their creation. W. Small corpus discourse analysis In concluding this section. “Introduction”. Moreover. Bollettieri Bosinelli. Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use . 2..mediazionionline. of the Hutton inquiry. E. he is making a claim for a qualitative study of language. A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis: Theory. etc.

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