Politically Speaking: The Pragmatic Analysis of Political Language (Language in Society)

  • Publish Date: 1990-10-13
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: John Wilson
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  • $29.40
  • Regular price $78.80


`I think that the American people will support a President if they are told by the President why they are there.' Richard Nixon referring to American involvement in Vietnam. `We are a grandmother' Margaret Thatcher on the birth of her first grandchild. This book brings the techniques of linguistic analysis to bear on the language of political life. Political language, John Wilson argues, is no different from any other. It simply presents in an extreme form many of the linguistic devices common to our everyday lives. Political talk often hinges on the relation between what is explicit and what is implied, between the direct and the indirect. Focusing on speeches, interviews and press conferences, and drawing many remarkable examples from the United States, Britain and elsewhere, John Wilson's account of political language employs to full effect the concepts and techniques of linguistic pragmatics. He provides examples of the use of implicature and presupposition in parliamentary debates; a telling analysis of how pronouns are used to present political positions; an account of the role of metaphor in establishing political arguments; and he explores particular insights into language and structure of interviews and press conferences. His aim is not to promote a view of politics or any political view. His concern, rather, is to chart how politicians use everyday linguistic resources in ways that are powerful and far from mundane.



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