Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Key Aspects of Myths and Metaphors in Romanian Political Discourse from a Cognitive Linguistic Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Key Aspects of Myths and Metaphors in Romanian Political Discourse from a Cognitive Linguistic Perspective

Article excerpt

Language, myth, and metaphor in political discourse

"Knowing begins with the awareness of the deceptiveness of our common-sense perceptions ... most people are half-awake, half-dreaming and are unaware that most of what they hold to be true and self-evident is illusion produced by the suggestive influence of the social world in which they live." (Fromm 1983: 28)

Myths and metaphors have always been deeply rooted in political language, probably because "politics is quintessentially a linguistic activity, an activity in which language is employed to inform others about political issues and persuade them to adopt courses of action in regard to these issues" (Geis 1989, p. 18). Tackling things from this perspective, one may depict the importance of language as the foundation of a very complex mechanism such as political communication. Taking one step further, there have been numerous positions arguing that language may be more than just a "carrier" of political messages, as Edelman (1987, p. 5) underlines that language is "not simply an instrument for describing events but [is] itself a part of events". In relation to this statement, Geis considers that language employed to describe different political events "[...] can influence political perceptions in a way that goes beyond its propositional content. The net effect can be a subtle, largely covert influence of language on political perceptions" (Edelman 1987). The relationship between political language and political thought can be explained through the fact that our attitude towards a thing or an event is considerably affected by the way in which those are described (Whorf 1964). Describing a thing or an event presupposes some background assumptions and, in the case of political language, such a description would include, besides linguistic significance, the political beliefs encoded in the language. Nesu (2005, p. 23) believes that the unbiased centre of any political discourse is represented by the power of words. This power generates a specific rhetoric, materialized in the use of a specialized vocabulary, specific discursive clichés and stereotypes, and specific argumentative rules and strategies. Political discourse relates to concepts (persons, situations, things) situated outside the common sense daily routine. It orientates itself towards a past or a future, towards its founders, an initial charter and its principles, images and symbols, progress, change, and the perspectives that impose future management assurance (Zglobiu 2015, p. 13).

Political discourse is a distinct type of discourse, as it seeks the legitimization of power. In its process of fulfilling a previously established agenda, most of its uses are dedicated to persuasion and influence. Besides the linguistic devices employed in its construction, it makes use of all the possible mechanisms to create adhesion and in order to do that, political language has always been in a pursuit of communication, as Balandier (2000, p. 149) points out:

"It entails a constant search for compensating means; it resorts to complicated linguistic innuendoes and fosters the employment of semantic ruses with the aid of specialists. The recipients of political messages turn into descriptors, partly discovering the pleasure of the game in political expression. They look for the text encaged inside conventional discourse, worn out through repetition, or search for words that make sense or for gaps between overt and covert expression, according to the logic of doubletalk".

It is through language that "the battle of power" is fought. Once the ideologies have been shaped, they carry through their semantic hues a semantic cargo that will be used at some point in the construction of "mythical leaders," who, in their turn will employ linguistic strategies to provide adhesion and influence through discourse: "successful and charismatic leaders create metaphors onto which followers project their own meanings and in doing so find a degree of socio-psychological and emotional gratification" (Charteris-Black 2009, p. …

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