Cornelia Ilie firstname.lastname@example.org
Ilie, Cornelia. 2006. Parliamentary Discourses. In Keith Brown (ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics 2nd Edition, Vol. 9, 188-197. Oxford: Elsevier.
In many countries parliamentary proceedings are broadcast nowadays on radio and television, as well as reported in the press and in specialised publications. However, in spite of the growing visibility of parliamentary institutions, the scholarly interest for the study of parliamentary discourse has been rather low until recently. There is one notable exception, though: one parliament that has drawn considerable attention and continues to be much explored is the U.K. Parliament. This interest may be accounted for by its being probably the oldest institution of its kind which has also managed to maintain a great deal of its institutional and discursive rituals. This retention is also the reason why this brief survey of parliamentary discourse is concerned to a large extent with the characteristic features and functions of British parliamentary discourse.
Ever since the latter half of the 20th century parliamentary discourse and parliamentary rhetoric have gradually become the object of scholarly research in the fields of political sciences and sociology (Silk and Walters 1987, Morgan and Tame 1996, Olson and Norton 1996, Copeland and Patterson 1997), but only very recently have they become a truly interdisciplinary concern through the involvement of linguistic scholarship (Carbó 1992, Slembrouck 1992, Biryukov et al 1995, Ilie 2000, 2001, 2003a, 2003b, 2003c, 2003d, 2004, 2005, ter Wal 2000a, Van der Valk 2000a, 2000b, Van Dijk 2000a, 2004, Wodak and Van Dijk 2000, Pérez de Ayala 2001, Wilson and Stapleton 2003, Bayley 2004). Whereas the research rooted in social and political sciences focuses primarily on the explanation of facts and interpretation of issues, political events and socio-political processes, linguistic research has benefited from the cross-fertilisation with the above-mentioned disciplines in its exploration of the shifting and multi-leveled institutionalised use of language, the communicative interaction of institutional agents, the interplay between parliamentary dialogue and the thinking processes of its participants, the interdependence between language-shaped facts and reality-prompted language ritualisation and change.
It may be useful to recall that the word parliament is derived from the the Old French parlement, originally from parler, i.e. to speak. By metonymic transfer, the term has come to refer to an institution specialised in a particular kind of talk, and even to the building that hosts such an
notably Germany’s Weimar Republik and the new Austrian Republic. i. such as congress. Parliamentarism became increasingly prevalent in Europe in the years after World War I. and Israel. each district elects one representative and that representative can be elected with a plurality. and in non-Commonwealth states like Ireland. All the other European parliamentary systems use some kind of proportional representation. an upper and a lower house. First past the post favors a two-party system. Several nations that are considered parliamentary actually have presidents who are elected separately from the legislature and who have certain real powers. the meeting place of Britain’s parliament. Italy. Australia. for its flexibility and responsiveness to the public. Malaysia.institution. diet and national assembly. The Westminster system is used in Britain and in many nations of the Commonwealth countries. known as ”first past the post. such as Canada. for its tendency to sometimes lead to unstable governments. whereas proportional representation favors a multi-party system. named after Westminster Palace. In most parliamentary systems. though. In presidential systems.e. however. Singapore. There are legislative assemblies known by other names.
For historical and political reasons. It is criticised. A unicameral legislature is the simplest kind of law-making body and has only one house. France and England. such as Germany and Italy. a governmental deliberative body made up of representatives of a nation or people with the authority to adopt laws. whose legislative procedures differ considerably from the Westminster system. In federations it is typical for the upper house to represent the component states. A bicameral legislature has two separate chambers. New Zealand and India.
One major difference between the Westminster system and the types of parliamentarism used in the rest of Europe and in non-Commonwealth monarchies outside of Europe is the voting system.” In this system. as mentioned above. usually the list system.
The Westminster parliamentary system
. Jamaica. as in the German Weimar Republic. the lower house is more powerful. as compared to presidentialism. Nowadays the term parliament is used as the generic term for a legislative assembly in certain countries. the powers of the two houses are often similar or equal. on the defeated countries and their successors. while the upper house is merely a chamber of advice or review. Most Westminister systems use a kind of voting system.
Most legislatures are either unicameral or bicameral. partly imposed by the democratic victors. the most geographically widespread parliamentary system is the Westminster system.
Parliamentarism is often praised. There are parliamentary governments. Examples of this type of governance are Ireland and Austria. the French Fourth Republic.
org/english/parlweb. Many of the parliamentary sites have a parallel version in English. parliamentarians were becoming more aware of the changing status and responsibility of parliamentary discourse and the necessity of shaping extra-parliamentary opinion. It represents a code of behaviour that regulates the various forms of parliamentary interaction in the U. Parliament used to be called together by the king as a reaction to pending problems.
. the members’ capacity to scrutinise and influence the government in office was relatively limited. votes and other parliamentary documents. which was kept from 1547.ipu. The emergence of Parliament in England during the Middle Ages was not an isolated phenomenon.The first English Parliament was formed during the reign of King Henry III in the 13th century.
In the Middle Ages. These sites have searchable databases of committee reports. It was in the latter half of the 20th century that Parliament witnessed some of the major changes in modern times and acquired a more central role in the policy-making process. Special sections are devoted to parliamentary questions and enquiries.K. parliamentary standardisation started with a formal record of the Commons’ proceedings in the Journal. proceedings and usage of Parliament (Limon and McKay 1997). hearings. Some parliamentary websites offer even audio and video web telecasting of parliamentary sessions. and especially the Elizabethan. which are available at the following address: http://www. privileges.
In the 19th century. especially from the 13th century on.
By the end of the 18th century the publication of parliamentary debates and regular press reporting became common practice. as the notion of a community of each realm began to replace the feudal ties that bound individuals only to their lord.
The salient rhetorical features that characterise parliamentary interaction are counterbalanced by explicit institutional constraints.htm The fact that most parliaments have established their presence on the web makes the legislative process and parliamentary proceedings more transparent and subject to public scrutiny. The Tudor. the most important of which are stipulated in Erskine May’s Treatise on the law.
Parliamentary norms and reports
Information technology provides nowadays easy access to national parliamentary websites. when the British Parliament resembled a ”London club”. similar bodies were regularly summoned in other communities too. Parliament. Throughout Europe from the 12th to the 14th centuries. records. and with a group of manuals of parliamentary procedure and privileges. As a result.
political and cultural formations – it is language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order.1828) who was the printer of the House of Commons Journal from 1774. Furthermore. Parliament and is now published on the internet on the UK Parliament site: www. the notion of ’genre’ can offer important insights into the nature. involuntary repetitions.
Like discourse and institutions. the written version does not reflect features of spoken language. are central to the study of interaction practices in institutional settings like the Parliament. stress and regional accents. or incomplete sentences.parliament. such as false starts. certain reformulations are produced by Hansard editors in order to avoid clumsy or unclear messages.
The genre of parliamentary discourse
The notions of discourse and genre. it displays particular institutionalised discursive features and ritualised
.” (Jaworski and Coupland 1999: 3). The name ’Hansard’ was officially adopted in 1943 after Luke Hansard (1752 . Slembrouck (1992) signalled some of the problems involved in the transcription process. Since the transcripts are not entirely accurate. being also available in bound issues. First. Second. Current discourse-analytical approaches envisage discourse as ”language use relative to social.K. a discourse in which institutional facework. scope and functions of parliamentary discourse.uk Hansard is published daily when Parliament is sitting. genre may be regarded primarily as ”a class of communicative events in which language (and/or paralanguage) plays both a significant and an indispensable role” (1998: 45) and ”the members of which share some set of communicative purposes” (1998: 58). genres and institutions are mutually constitutive and acquire legitimacy within a speech community.Hansard is the Official Report of the proceedings of the U. As such.e. such as intonation. political meaning negotiation and power management are being articulated and publicly displayed. are left out. parliamentary discourse belongs to the genre of political discourse.
From a pragma-linguistic perspective. which are theoretically supposed to be verbatim. actually involve a certain amount of editing meant to do away with some of the formal shortcomings of any oral delivery. and thereby constitute the rationale for the genre” (1998: 58). however fuzzy and problematic. In spite of its controversiality. Moreover. ”these purposes are recognized by the expert members of the parent discourse community. Following Swales (1998/1990).
The Hansard reports. and shaping individuals’ interaction with society. it is necessary for analysts of parliamentary discourse to have access to video recordings of the proceedings under consideration. i. intrinsic elements of spontaneous speech. This definition can certainly apply to parliamentary discourse. In the House of Commons the Hansard Reporters sit in a gallery above the Speaker and take down every word that is said in the Chamber.
even if occasionally and to a lesser extent. Parliamentary debates are meant to achieve a number of institutionally specific purposes. before the public business of the day. i. and opinion building. negotiating. The discursive interaction of parliamentarians is constantly marked by their institutional role-based commitments. by the dialogically shaped institutional confrontation and by the awareness of acting in front and on behalf of a multi-level audience. persuading.interaction strategies. debates. This confirms the Bakhtinian view that genres are heterogeneous. usually along ideological or party lines. i.
Oral ministerial statements are made in the House of Commons after questions and urgent questions.
From a rhetorical perspective. such as ministerial statements. and pathos.e. The MPs’ discourse is meant to call into question the opponents’ ethos. Elements characteristic of the forensic and epideictic genres are also present.e.
A common feature of many European legislatures (for example in Germany and Sweden) is the interpellation or ”short debate” by means of which an opposition party (or an equivalent number of MPs) can call a debate on a topical issue or a matter of public concern. emotion eliciting force. agenda-setting. A minister speaks on behalf of the government to present their official views to Parliament. speeches.
. political credibility and moral profile. One of the major functions of Members of Parliament (henceforth MPs) is to contribute to problem-solving tasks regarding legal and political deliberation. Statements can be on any subject ranging from a new policy announcement to an important national or international event or crisis. as well as decision making processes. Interpellations can be regarded as mini-debates on broad areas of a minister’s responsibilities. Their purpose is to announce new policies or to provide specific information about current or urgent political matters.
Subgenres of parliamentary discourse
The genre of parliamentary discourse displays several subgenres. i. parliamentary discourse belongs to the deliberative genre of political rhetoric. logical reasoning. while complying with and/or circumventing a number of specific rules and constraints. A major incentive for the parliamentarians’ active participation in the debates is the constant need to promote their own image in a competitive and performance-oriented institutional interaction.e. which is defined as an oratorical discourse targetting an audience that is asked to make a decision by evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of a future course of action. namely positionclaiming. oral/written questions and Question Time. while enhancing their own ethos in an attempt to strike a balance between logos.
“the style of debate in the House has traditionally been based on cut-and-thrust: listening to other Members’ speeches and intervening in them in spontaneous reaction to opponents’ views”. Other rules apply parliamentary norms to questions. or proposed. in official proceedings (Wilson and Stapleton 2003). argumentation and counter-argumentation in Italian parliamentary debates on immigration (ter Wal 2000a. content and scope of the subgenre of oral and written questions. As has been suggested by Franklin and Norton (1993). while still others define the issues on which questions could be asked. i. Closely related themes have also been explored: the distinctive features of parliamentary discourses on ethnic issues in six European states (Wodak and Van Dijk 2000. Unlike the questioning strategies in courtroom interaction.
Since it is during debates that most of the parliamentary confrontation takes place. A recurrent theme is the debate on immigration. apart from facts or events. parliamentary questioning strategies are not intended to elicit particular answers. In the House of Commons all speeches are addressed to the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House. the motion outlines their view of why the House should adopt the motion. asylum and integration in the Dutch Parliament (Van der Valk 2000a). Members take it in turns to speak on the subject concerned. which are meant to elicit particular expected answers and to exclude unsuitable answers. ter Wal 2000b). the regional parliamentary discourse from Northern Ireland on the use of Ulster-Scots and Irish alongside English.Parliamentary speeches are traditional forms of political discourse. disputes on immigration and nationality in the French Parliament (Van der Valk 2000b. Cabasino 2001). but rather to embarrass and/or to challenge the respondent to make uncomfortable or revealing declarations. Asking a question is usually a pretext to attack or praise the government and involves information that is already known: ”Few members would run the risk of asking such a question without knowing the likely answer” (Franklin and Norton 1993: 112). whereas written questions are asked when the primary goal is to obtain information.e.
. Parliamentary speeches are supposed to display. The MP who has moved.
A parliamentary debate can be described in general terms as a formal discussion on a particular topic which is strictly controlled by an institutional set of rules and presided over by the Speaker of the House. who acts as a chairperson. legitimating the expulsion of illegal immigrants in the Spanish Parliament (Martín Rojo and Van Dijk 1997. One of these rules stipulates that neither the questions nor the answers should be sustained by reasoning that may give rise to controversy. Martín Rojo 2000). Parliament website). 2000b).K. it is hardly surprising that several studies on parliamentary discourse have focused on highly topical issues discussed in parliaments. it seems that oral questions are asked primarily where the MP considers some publicity is desirable.
There is a comprehensive set of rules set out in Erskine May regarding the form. disputes on illegal immigrants. According to Factsheet 52 (available at the U. The Opening Speech is the first speech in a debate. also selfpresentations and other-presentations.
debates and Question Time. starting from the consideration that parliamentary dialogue contributes to revealing frames of mind and beliefs. as well as for the other responding Ministers. are examined by Ilie (2003b). The histrionic and agonistic features of three parliamentary subgenres. ‘Questions au Gouvernement’ in the French Parliament. namely the Prime Minister and/or Government Ministers. Each macro-question is analysed in terms of adjacency pairs. Parliament. it offers several possibilities for asking supplementary questions. which regards the roles and identities of parliamentary agents. interaction frame. Two rhetorical strategies are particularly investigated in the two discourse types. ‘Frågestund’ in the Swedish Riksdag. This questioning procedure was introduced in the European Parliament in 1973. about the Prime Minister’s engagements is always predictable. who have to be prepared for all kinds of unexpected questions. ‘Heure des questions’ in the Belgian Parliament. participant frame. turns.
(1) Spatial-temporal frame in Parliament
. which regards the spatial and temporal dimensions.e. The Speaker calls up the MPs who want to ask questions. statements and actions by fellow MPs. as well as exposing instances of doublespeak and incompatible or inconsistent lines of action. i. ‘Question Period’ in the Canadian Parliament.e. Question Time is a specific session devoted to questioning the foremost representatives of the Government. who makes a systematic comparison with corresponding subgenres of theatre performances.
Parliamentary activity frames
As was shown in Ilie (2003b).K. by their fellow MPs (cf. The first question. namely spatial-temporal frame. This explains why Question Time has been described as “a facethreatening genre” by Pérez de Ayala (2001: 147). Apart from oral questions. moves and discourse acts. in order to capture the major characteristics of parliamentary discourse activities it is useful to take into account three main types of institutional frames. which regards the institutional structuring and functions of various activity types that are carried out in parliament. who shows that the high frequency of facethreatrening acts is counterbalaced by a wide range of politeness strategies. Parliament website). Government members are held accountable for their political intentions.K. The order in which the questions are asked is previously established by a process of random selection. to name but a few. all these parliaments allow for questions tabled for written answers. speeches.
Question Time becomes particularly confrontational when the questioning is carried out by members of the Opposition. as well as speaker-addressee and speaker-audience relationship. Factsheet P1 about Parliamentary questions available on the U.One of the prototypical forms of parliamentary questioning discourse is ‘Question Time’ in the U. which are the really tricky ones for the Prime Minister. the physical environment of parliamentary institutions and participant positioning in space and time. i. and finally. namely rhetorical questions and rhetorical parentheticals. However.
But in this case. A comparable situation can be found in most parliaments. Some parliamentary sittings. A much wider audience of TVviewers have nowadays the possibility to watch the parliamentary sessions that are telecast. etc. as a result of the seating arrangement. However. MPs are involved in a co-performance which is meant to both address and engage (sometimes even co-act with) an audience of MPs as active participants. Official Opposition spokespersons use the front bench to the Speaker’s left. and on sundry occasions. there is no redress for such action”. “there is nothing sacrosanct about these places.Spatial frames regard in the first place the physical setting of the parliament building and the seating arrangements. where members of the public at large are supposed to sit and watch the debates. who are
. an extremely high number of amendments and frequent unauthorised interruptions. such as Question Time. called the Strangers’ Gallery.
Speeches made in the House of Commons have to conform to very specific rules. Thus. that do not always have a fixed or pre-established duration. (2) Participant frame in Parliament
In all parliaments. with the Government MPs and Opposition MPs facing each other as members of two competing camps has undoubtedly played an important role in fostering an adversarial and confrontational tone of debate. but the finishing time is often delayed. On the floor of the House on the Speaker’s right are the benches occupied by the supporters of the Government. The physical setting of the House of Commons. such as debates.
Important time-related constraints should also be taken into account in connection with the spatial frame. The Speaker’s Chair faces the main public gallery. By convention. Certain debates on very controversial issues may end long after midnight. There are. start at a particular preestablished time and are normally time-bound. front-bench members usually stand at one of the Despatch boxes. however. the audience’s viewing perspective is restricted to the specific filming angles chosen by parliamentary TV-camerapersons when foregrounding or backgrounding certain persons. However. Government MPs and Opposition MPs are practically facing each other. MPs enact specific participant roles. Ministers sit on the front bench on the right hand of the speaker. A Minister or Opposition spokesperson can speak from the Dispatch Box at the Table of the House. namely interacting participants and onlooking audiences. though a minority party that identifies with the Government may sit on the right-hand side. interactions. parliamentary proceedings. as is indicated in Factsheet 52. when a Member has deliberately chosen to occupy a place on the front bench or on the opposite of the House from normal. Their starting time is designated beforehand. but other MPs have to rise to speak from where they were previously sitting and not from a rostrum. The Prime Minister’s seat is opposite to the despatch box on the Table. Minority parties sit on the benches (often the front two) below the gangway on the left.
Above the Speaker’s Chair is the Reporters’ Gallery. The Leader of the Opposition is sitting opposite the despatch box on that side of the Table. This is mainly due to innumerable procedural incidents.
While in noninstitutional settings politeness rules are just regulative and therefore provide more choice. are normally referred to by means of the 2nd person pronoun. interruptions. Two types of distinctions are marked by specific parliamentary forms of address. It is significant that the English 2nd person pronoun you may be used in two exactly opposite cases in terms of politeness: on the one hand. as a negative address form indicator in the overt face threatening act of interrupting speaking MPs. e.expected to contribute explicit forms of audience-feedback. Gentleman/Lady” (to refer to a senior and/or high status MP).
. the nature of the institutionalised relationships (social distance and dominance) between MPs. responses. to put certain issues on the political agenda. What is important for MPs is to consistently promote a political line which meets the general wishes of the voters (as expressed at general elections). they are constitutive and therefore discourseintegrated. A hierarchical distinction is involved in the alternative uses of ”the Hon. the only parliamentary participant officially addressed in the 2nd person is the Speaker or Deputy Speaker (the address form is “Sir” or “Madam”). Gentleman/Lady” (to refer to a junior and/or ordinary MP) and ”the Right Hon. and by using the form ”my (Right) Hon. such as the Parliament. in institutional settings. A political distinction is conveyed by using one of the above-mentioned forms of address when referring to an MP that belongs to another political party than one’s own. In Hansard. but by the names of their constituency or by their official position. MPs are addressed and address each other in the 3rd person singular through the intermediary of the Speaker of the House.
The MPs in other parliaments.
(i) Parliamentary forms of address
The rules controlling the parliamentary forms of address are subject to a complex interplay of socio-cultural constraints: the overall effect and significance of the institutional activity in which the MPs are engaged. as well as to take desirable initiatives and effective measures. and on the other hand. however. Friend” when referring to an MP that belongs to one’s own party. this phrase is expanded into the form “the Honourable Member for Ockendon (Mr. The second person plural pronoun of address V is used in many languages as a honorific form to singular respected or distant alters. Bloggs)” in order to avoid ambiguities.
In the House of Commons MPs are normally not addressed by their actual names. the extent to which MPs share a common set of cultural expectations with respect to the social activity and the speech events that they are carrying out. such as the French and the Italian parliaments. who acts as a moderator.g. Interestingly. as a positive address form indicator in ritualistic politeness formulae used by MPs when addressing the Speaker of the House. Most importantly. questions.
The ritualised form used in the Commons to address an MP is “the Honourable Gentleman/Lady”.
the members of the press. to be engaged in a genuine reasoning process or truth finding discussion. However. can be regarded as active participants. title and last name. All MPs are fully aware of the fact that they cannot realistically hope to persuade political opponents of the justifiability of their ideas and beliefs. the use of the 2nd person pronoun ‘ni’ also occurs occasionally in the Swedish debates (Ilie 2003d. can be regarded as bystanders. (ii) Parliamentary roles and audiences
The institutional interaction of debating MPs reveals role shifts between their public roles as as representatives of a part of the electorate and their private roles as members of the same electorate they represent. The onlooking audience is actually a multi-layered audience. viz. the outsider audience of visitors in the Strangers’ Gallery. or members of the public at large present in the Strangers’ Gallery. i. in Parliament there is an awareness of and a tolerance for the audience of outsiders. not only
. and occasionally only first name. As instantiations of individual and group confrontations. Other listeners. the insider audience of fellow MPs. such as the Hansard reporters. as well as those MPs who are being directly addressed and act as interlocutors. and the more remote outsider audience of TV-viewers. While addressing the current addressee(s). but also collaborative discursive processes. The MPs who are taking the floor to address the House. just as in the House of Commons. The 3rd person pronoun is the officially acknowledged pronominal term of address in the Swedish Riksdag. As manifestations of collective undertakings. 2005). No special effort is made to acknowledge the presence of this audience of outsiders or to get their approval. As has been shown in Ilie (2003b). parliamentary debates display well-regulated competing. (3) Interaction frame in Parliament
The interaction between MPs is convention-based and rule-regulated. first and last name.e. so it counts as the unmarked pronominal address form.
As a result of the increasing mediatisation of parliamentary proceedings. parliamentary debates display. For example. namely in front of several kinds of audiences made up of politicians and/or laypersons.Different parliaments display different degrees of flexibility and constraint. MPs perform a major part of their work in “the public eye”. One of the reasons may be the fact that it is normally a random and continuously changing audience that happens to be in the Strangers’ Gallery on a particular day at a particular time. especially in matters of vital national importance. but the targeted audience is the insider audience of fellow MPs. their interventions and arguments are equally intended for all MPs in the House and for the wider (present or TV-viewing) audience. interpersonal and strategic deference is conveyed in Swedish parliamentary discourse by a wider range of devices. The rest of the MPs who are not actually involved in the current debate can be regarded as side participants.
MPs are not expected to have a straightforward dialogue with each other. namely: title.
a particular motion outlines his/her view of why the House should adopt the motion. to attract his/her attention by standing. The MP who has moved. On that occasion the Queen reads the Queen’s Speech.
(ii) Parliamentary turn-taking and talk-monitoring rules
The turn-taking structure of parliamentary interaction shows that linguistic constraints are paralleled by institutional constraints. i. or proposed.
(iii) Parliamentary interruptions
Another way of competing for the floor is to resort to ”authorised” verbal interruptions. (i) Openings and closings of parliamentary sessions
Parliamentary proceedings in the Commons are officially opened and closed by the Speaker of the House. It is the Speaker of the House who ensures the reinforcement of orderly interventions and the observance of parliamentary rules. so that MPs take it in turns to speak and present their standpoints in an orderly manner. Since MPs may speak only if called to do so by the Speaker. Today the Government prepares the Queen’s speech. pitch and pacing of the voice. Paraverbal signalling refers to the way in which a verbal message is conveyed by means of tone. or half standing. intervening whenever these topics are not properly followed. but also by the participants’ spontaneous verbal. paraverbal and non-verbal signalling. who also announces the topics of the agenda. The orderly question-answer sequences can be disrupted by recurrent ”authorised” interruptions or
The State Opening of Parliament takes place after a General Election and at the beginning of each new session of Parliament.e.
In the Commons parliamentary turn-taking is regulated not only by institutional conventions. It is a reminder of times when the King or Queen actually chose the legislation to be debated in Parliament. Some of the most salient parliamentary interaction frames are described below. S/he is in charge of monitoring speaker selection and turn assignment. they must try to ‘catch the Speaker’s eye’.adversarial interaction. but also converging and complementary discursive contributions that are orchestrated institutionally and performed jointly. The first speech in a debate is called the Opening Speech. The speech details the Government’s policies and the bills it will introduce in the next session.
According to pragma-linguistic criteria. a vast majority of parliamentary questions belong to the closed category of yes-no questions. used particularly by backbenchers to gain attention and to acquire information. Franklin and Norton (1993) and in Limon and McKay (1997). as well as to contribute to local publicity. consist of exclamations of approval or disapproval. which are confirmation-eliciting and reaction-eliciting. remarks between Opposition MPs and Government MPs. Thus. leading questions and echo questions. Ilie (2004b) analyses and compares interruption patterns in British parliamentary debates and in drama dialogue. scope and purpose. a frequent type of questions are the so-called partisan questions that are asked not only to defend and reinforce the power of the Government. (iv) Parliamentary questioning/answering patterns
In all parliaments the question-response sequences represent the default adjacency pairs of several parliamentary subgenres.
According to syntactic criteria. They often display exchanges of challenging. Cabasino (2001) and Van der Valk (2002) describe interruptions in French debates on immigration. parliamentary questions often belong to the category of rhetorical questions. as well as friendly and cooperative questions from MPs belonging to the Government party. but also to attack the Opposition. while Bevitori (2004) compares the interruptions in British and Italian parliamentary debates. Such interruptions. In principle. there are several subtypes of parliamentary questions in terms of content. Another recurrent type of parliamentary questions are the attention seeking questions. namely spontaneous verbal reactions of MPs who interrupt the current speaker. defensive and ironical. rather than information-eliciting in that they single out and expose the opponent’s weaknesses. and are perceived as some of the particularly distinctive characteristics of all parliamentary discourses. which are meant to constrain the respondents’ answering options. often in an ironical or sarcastic tone. These questions are often multifunctional and convey different degrees of argumentativeness depending on their specific contexts of occurrence. Nowadays an increasing number of questions are being asked by MPs on behalf of lobbying and presssure groups. It is significant that several of the exisiting studies on parliamentary discourse have focused on the analysis of interruptions.interventions by MPs who want to grab the floor. there are also unauthorised interruptions. but also countering. such as oral/written questions and Question Time. usually from their own constituencies.
(v) Parliamentary politeness strategies
. As has been shown in Chester and Bowring (1962). accusatory.
Apart from ”authorised” interruptions. Carbó (1992) gives a detailed account of the types of interruptions in the Mexican parliament. The interruption consists in asking the current speaker to ’give way’ so as to allow the intervening MP to ask a question or make a comment. an MP cannot suddenly intervene when another MP is speaking to the House unless the speaking MP allows it by “giving way”.
Several metadiscursive strategies have been investigated in the British parliamentary discourse: metadiscursive argumentation through the use and misuse of clichés (Ilie 2000). Cross-cultural perspectives on parliamentary discourse. The results of the contrastive analysis indicate that English unparliamentary language is marked particularly by pathos-oriented logos. such as reproaches. taboos.). and the discursive interplay between the participants’ interpersonal and institutional voices. since the forms and functions of insults and their respective feedbacks vary in different cultures and institutional settings. Parliamentary metadiscourse is used to highlight the co-occurrence and confrontation of competing ideological and personal representations. as well as value judgements of different social-political groups.As has been shown in Ilie (2001.) Cross-cultural perspectives on parliamentary discourse. (vi) Parliamentary metadiscourse
Metadiscourse is a term generally used to indicate a shift in discourse levels. Bayley (ed. above and/or beyond the unfolding discourse.
Cross-cultural studies are particularly enlightening in this respect. such as insults. by means of which the speaker’s multi-level messages are being conveyed alongside. Cinzia. These acts cover a continuum that ranges from milder/mitigated acts. on the other. Several aspects of the use and effects of unparliamentary language in the U. The Crisis of sobornost’:
. prejudices. Jeffrey Gleisner and Victor Sergeyev. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. and metadiscursive parentheticals (Ilie 2003b. The study of unparliamentary strategies provides important clues about moral and social standards. 87-109. 2003d. 2005) and Pérez de Ayala (2001). Bevitori. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (2004). In P. on the one hand. as well as individuals in a community. Nikolai.
Bayley. accusations and criticisms. One of the conclusions is that “what is generally referred to as unparliamentary uses of language constitute instances of institutionally ritualised confrontational interaction. 2003c).K. Negotiating conflict: Interruptions in British and Italian parliamentary debates. (1995). to very strong ones. as well as from a rhetorical perspective (Ilie 2003d). reporting and quoting strategies (Ilie 2003a). (2004). parliamentary debates involve systematic face-threatening acts marked by unparliamentary language and behaviour.” (Ilie 2003d: 81). metadiscursive attribution. Parliament and in the Swedish Riksdag have been examined from a politeness and cognitive theoretical perspective (Ilie 2001). Paul (ed. Biryukov. whereas Swedish unparliamentary language is marked particularly by ethos-oriented logos.
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