Academic journal article Applied Semiotics/Semiotique appliqué

Spears and Shields of Discourse in the Political Battlefield: Israeli and Turkish Accounts of the Gaza Flotilla Raid

Academic journal article Applied Semiotics/Semiotique appliqué

Spears and Shields of Discourse in the Political Battlefield: Israeli and Turkish Accounts of the Gaza Flotilla Raid

Article excerpt

Introduction

Language is not a simple tool for reflecting and representing the world but as Eliot (1996) stated it is a domain in which we perceive, understand, think and communicate with the others. While 'language' is the shared linguistic structures and devices of a specific society for communication, 'discourse' which is the language in use is the employment of the abovementioned linguistic system by individuals for self-expression, informing, persuading or manipulating the Others. Discourse can only be produced within the limits of language, society and ideology; in other words discourse production is dependent upon the commonly shared linguistic structures as well as the cognitive and conceptual dimension it provides to its users (Cotuksoken, 2002:166). Discourse is concerned with the language practice processes in which identity markers, ideology, power plays, knowledge and features of social class operate. A person's social, political, psychological standing can be understood with a careful analysis of his/her discourse production.

A close study of discourse not only refers to the content of the message but it also points to the circumstances of discourse production such as the context, intention, authority and discursive strategies of the sender and the position of the recipient. The founder of the Enunciation Theory Benveniste (1995:30) stated that language is the common shared ground whereas discourse is a vehicle for both conveying messages and influencing the recievers. The enunciator puts forth a message comprised of coherent supra-segmental practices by which he/she aims to arouse a definite type of change on the recipient. In other words, discourse not only has expressive or informative aspects but it also has persuasive, argumentative and manipulative features as every sender has a specific aim on his/her mind while shaping and transmitting his/her message. Every lexical, syntactic and semantic choice made in the construction of discourse is strategic and intentional as these preferences will pave the way of perception and understanding in the course the Sender aims.

Discourse, ideology and the other social practices such as politics are delicately interlaced and they are all interdependent on one another. According to Gee (1999), language use boundless of time and place has political implicatures as language is under the siege of the ideologies of the social world around. Ideology constructs discourse and its side- products such as gender or national identity as well as social schemata. The external reality is consciously transformed into subjective realities that are evaluated and categorized by a specific society and then shape the individual's opinions and attitudes. The way we perceive, interpret and communicate the external and objective reality is closely linked to the ideologies adopted and internalized by the society we live in. Societal norms, values and other ideological aspects construct ready-made mental models and attitudes to be adopted by the group members. The generation and transfer of these mental models and attitudes can only be actualized via discourse. Even though the individuals may create their discourse independently, they can't do this by stepping out of the borders of the dominant discourse which represented itself in the mental models and attitudes the society enforces us to internalize. Discourse is an indispensable vehicle of politics now that it helps to maintain and reproduce the status quo as well as contributing to its transformation which means that there is an interactive and interdependent link between discourse and society (Fairclough& Wodak 1997:258). Briefly, the dominant discourse of a society, nation or an era is both shaped by and helps to shape the signification system. Subjects produce and comprehend discourses in a social discursive web and discourse is a system of communicative practices that are integrally related to wider social and cultural practices and that help to construct specific frameworks of thinking which in other words is the dominant ideology (Macdonald, 2003). …

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