Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Pragmatic Study of a Political Discourse from the Perspective of the Linguistic Adaptation Theory

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Pragmatic Study of a Political Discourse from the Perspective of the Linguistic Adaptation Theory

Article excerpt


The emergence of the field of political marketing has highlighted the prominence of communication towards shaping the candidates' image and building long-term relationships with voters. The linguistic characteristics of the political speech presented by candidates allow them to communicate to voters the superiority of his or her attributes over those of opponents (Kaid, 1999). Political campaigns are dynamic struggles between candidates to define the informational context for voters. Early researches (Kaid, 1981, 1986) suggested that political advertising has cognitive and behavioral effects on voters. It communicates the brand promise of a candidate blending functional and emotional benefits that voters gain from their relationships with a candidate.

This study, based on Jef Verschueren's (1999) Linguistic Adaptation Theory (LAT), proposes a pragmatic model for the analysis of a political election discourse. In this pragmatic model, it is shown that in such a discourse the process of adaptation to variables of the physical, social, and mental world is used. Such a process can be understood as the outcome of politicians' choice making, dynamic negotiation and linguistic adaptation. The interpretation of a political discourse, on the other hand, can be better achieved by tracing the specific ways of meaning generation from the four focal points of context, structure, dynamics, and salience.

Keywords: political discourse, power, ideology, Linguistic Adaptation Theory, dynamics of adaptability, Salience of adaptability

1. Introduction

Politics is a struggle for power in order to put certain political, economic and social ideas into practice. In this process, language plays a crucial role. A political action is prepared, accompanied, influenced and played by language. This research analyzes the discourse of the electional speech given by the Mauritanians candidate, Ahmed Dadeh, in his presidential election campaign in 2009.

2. Review of the Related Literature

In a study, Wang (2010) using two speech samples of Obama, victory speech, 2008, and inaugural address on January 20, 2009, summarizes features of his speeches. Horvath (2009) examines the persuasive strategies of Obama's public speaking as well as the covert ideology of the enshrined in his inaugural address. Moore and Hendry (1982) describe 'power' as the force in society that gets things done. So the more access to public discourse, genres, contexts, discourse properties, and talk properties, and the more 'power'ful social groups and institutions are. Studying 'power' may identifies who controls what and for whose benefits. Fairclough (1995) defines 'power' not only as asymmetries that exist between individuals participating in the same discursive event but also in terms of how people have different capacities to control texts and thus discourses are produced, distributed and consumed. According to Baker and Ellece (2011), language is viewed as a social practice and is interested in the ways that ideologies and 'power' relations are expressed through language. According to Van Dijk (1985), when speakers and writers are able to influence the mental models, knowledge, attitudes and eventually even the ideologies of recipients may indirectly control their future action. That is, mentally mediated control of the actions of others is the ultimate form of 'power', especially when the audience is hardly aware of such control, as is the case in manipulation. Most forms of discursive and communicative access, such as control of setting, interaction, topic or style will be geared toward mind controlling of participants, recipients or the audience at large, in such a way that the resulting mental changes are those preferred by those in 'power' and generally in their interest. According to Baker and Ellece (2011), Norman Fairclough views ideologies as constructions of reality which are built into various dimensions of the forms/meanings of discursive practices, and which contribute to the production, reproduction or transformation of relations of domination. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.