English as Lingua Franca: Double Talk in Global Persuasion

English as Lingua Franca: Double Talk in Global Persuasion

English as Lingua Franca: Double Talk in Global Persuasion

English as Lingua Franca: Double Talk in Global Persuasion

Synopsis

As an international language, English has facilitated the sharing of information. But when it comes to communication, specifically political communication, Dovring argues that the type of English that is used leads to misunderstandings, political double entendre, and the subtle manipulation of public opinion. President Kennedy was one of the first to face this problem when he negotiated with Khrushchev in the 1960s. He encountered an English where familiar words were used with new or dubious meanings in order to point toward certain political goals. This "Bodysnatched English" is the subject of Dovring's study. A communications analyst, Dovring examines the use, influence, and political environment where "Bodysnatched English" has appeared. She points out the often neglected fact that communication is an art, performed to perfection by politicians acting on the public stage. She analyzes recent political communications, including the words of Reagan, Clinton, Gorbachev, Khrushchev, and Qadafi.

Excerpt

This book draws on many sources. It draws mainly on my research and work, travels, and residences in many countries. Raised in cosmopolitan Gothenburg, Sweden's principal seaport and international trade center known for its tradition of foreign languages and double talk in its communications, I became accustomed early to double entendre in its use in social relations. My university studies resulted in a book on dissenters' politico- religious communications in eighteenth-century Sweden, whose popular culture became a threat to the Swedish authoritarian government due to their double talk in successful mass communications. The book Songs of Zion (Striden kring sions sånger, K. Dovring, 1951) prompted Harold D. Lasswell of Yale Law School, the founder of modern propaganda science, to invite me to the United States as his associate, which I was until his death. In the meantime, my husband served on the diplomatic staff of the United Nations, first in Geneva, then in Rome, and finally in Washington, D.C. Our homes in those cities, as well as my commuting between Europe and the United States gave me many opportunities to study "Bodysnatched English" in action on both the political and social scenes--an English that thrives on undercurrents of suggestive meanings in the service of political goals.

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