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The Peoples Democratic Republic of Algeria

Larbi Ben Mhidi University

Module: Discourse Analysis
Department of English
Group: 01 Master1

Political Discourse

Presented by:
Mr. Karim Ayadi

by :

si Djihad
ezzouh Raouia
a Manel

1. Introduction:
Generally speaking, language is a powerful tool to win public support.
It is also a weapon in the struggle of community against community,
world view against world view. Language, therefore, is seen as the means
for achieving the politicians goals and interests.

2. Definition of Political Discourse Analysis:

Political Discourse can be simply marked as the discourse of
politicians, i.e, their text and talk, and their professional activities. The
topic discussed usually comes from public events that require decisionmaking, policies, regulations or legislation. (Van Dijk 2001. 4), this means
that only those discourses of politicians are considered that are produced
in institutional settings, such as: governments, parliaments or political
parties. () The discourse must be the speaker in her professional role of
a politician and in an institutional setting. In addition, a discourse is
political when it accomplishes a political act in a political institution such
as governing, legislation, electoral campaigning and so on. (Van Dijk
2001: 6)
Political Discourse Analysis, therefore, is a field of discourse analysis
which focuses on discourse in political forums (such as: debates,
speeches, and hearings) as a phenomenon of interest.

3. Political Discourse Analysis and Translation:

According to Christina Schaffner, Political Discourse Analysis (PDA)
and Translation Studies (TS) can benefit from closer cooperation.

Political Discourse (PD) relies on translation, in the sense that

linguistic behaviour influences political behaviour.

A wrong or inappropriate word choice in the context of politically

sensitive issues can lead to great misinterpretations.

DA tries to define why a particular word, phrase or structure during

the translation process has been chosen over another one.

International politics involve translation to a large extent.

Agreements between countries are made available in several languages;
interpreters participate in the most crucial political events facilitating the
work of international institutions such as the European Union, the United

Nations Organization, the League of Nations, etc; some governments put

translations of significant documents on their websites.

The competent translator should be aware that translation of PD is

not a mere process of transferring words from one text into another.

4. Characteristics of Political Discourse:

There is a variety of characteristics that distinguishes the Political
Discourse from other Discourses:
a. Boosters: are words, phrases or expressions used to reinforce
the meaning of an utterance and stress its impact on the hearer.
eg.In terms of reconstruction, of course we want the international
community to participate, and they are.
Of course here emphasizes and reinforces the meaning of the
b. Deixis: is the process of 'pointing' via language.
Taking this example: I, will prove the next day, when will be prime
minister, that is not just that are better, because better will be, will be
certainly better.
I here refers to the speaker himself.
c. Hedges: are words or phrases that soften the speakers
speech. According to Coates, Hedges are defined as linguistic
forms such as: I think, sort of, perhaps, you know that are used
to weaken the meaning carried by such utterance.
There are two sorts of hedges: Approximators (characterized as
markers of denotational vagueness) & Shields (characterized as markers
of uncertainty).
Eg: More than 70% of the rebels are centered in the middle areas of
Iraq (uttered by an Iraqi politician)
The quantifier more (as a kind of vagueness) here is used to
broaden the hearers thinking boundaries, and let them consider the
seriousness of the situation. Also, Hedging is expressed in this example
through using 70% (as approximators) this strategy is called by Van Dijk
the number game. In addition, the politician used the word rebels to
refer to the groups that are against the government, and he avoided to
use resistance or terrorists to soften the meaning carried in this

d. Vague language: words, phrases or expressions used in

case of uncertainty or unwillingness of the speaker to reveal
Eg: If I could share some stories with you about some of the people I
have seen from Iraq, the leaders from Iraq, there are no question in my
mind that people that I have seen at least are thrilled with the activities
we've taken.
Here, Politician used the sentence some of the people I have seen
but he does not want to mention who are they (unwillingness to state
e. Irony or satire: is the way of using humour to show
weaknesses or bad qualities of something/ someone.
Taking the example of Franois Hollande when he said to the French
Prime Minister after coming back from Algeria:
I hope you are doing well (irony) to mean that the Algerian people
are dangerous.
f. Metonymy: is a figure speech in which a thing or concept is
not called by its own name, but by the name of something
intimately associated with that thing or concept.
The White House (referring to the American Administration)
Crown (for the power of a king)
Metonymy in political speech by US President:
Lets take the following example for the analysis:
this must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the
White House. In this example the Kremlin and the White House are
concrete substitutions for the president and staff of the Russia and the
USA respectively. In metonymy, we use concrete thing instead of an
abstract notion as in this case the thing becomes a symbol of the notion.
Also, metonymy is used to justify or even to hide unpopular decisions
or situations that are made.
For example: George W. Bush said that Saddam Hussein should be
stopped. He also said that Hussein is to be bombed and that this regime
is to a threat no longer wording it in such a way disguises the fact that
the bombs will not fall on Saddam only but on cities full of innocent

people and that collateral damage will be taken because of this. This is
just one way of justifying going to war.

5. Speech acts





Speech acts: refer to any utterance that has performative function

in language and communication, i.e, our language and actions are
separate. To identify the relation between speech acts and Political
Discourse, we take the following example (uttered by an Iraqi Politician):
(Others (X sighs) should not interfere with our internal affairs )
In this utterance, Mr. X is sending a message to the neighboring
(In fact, he is making an indirect threatening) not to interfere with
internal affairs.

Politeness: in Political interviews, politeness plays a significant

role, i.e, the linguistic formulations are chosen carefully (Chilton and
Schaffner, 2002: 14) in order to get public support and achieve goals.
6. The Co-operative Principles: describe how people
interact with one another. Grice points out that our talk
exchanges are characteristically, to some degree, cooperative
efforts. In this context, he gives the four maxims of

Maxim of Quality: is to make your contribution one that is true

and do not say what you believe to be false.

Maxim of Quantity: to be concise and precise

Maxim of Relevance: to be relevant to what youre saying.
Maxim of manner: is to be brief, orderly, and avoid obscurity and
In here, we take an example taken from an interview with an Iraqi
Q:Until recently, Iraq was enjoying good relations with its neighbors
and specifically Syria, but in case, it is proved that Syria is involved in
terrorism in Iraq, what would you do to solve this problem?
A- Well we hear about Syria's support for terrorism and violence in

Iraq, but we do not know the details until now Syria was
standing beside Iraq but surly there are some organizations which
support terrorism).
We can say that no information was provided in the reply. The
politician violated the maxim of quantity and quality at the same time
since his reply is being quantitively inadequate in information to the
needs or interests of the interviews and qualitively because the speaker is
in a position which for sure enables him to know whether Syria is involved
or not in terrorism in Iraq.

7. Conclusion:
The study of Political Discourse like that of other areas of Discourse
Analysis covers a broad range of subject matter and draws a wide range
of analytical methods. Political Discourse has many characteristics and
the leaders proved that they know how to apply them when they want to
give or send a message to the listeners (the public) and wish them to
share their ideas or to join them to solve the national problems.

List of references:
- College of Basic Education Researchers Journal Vol. 10, No. 1 PDF
(Analyzing Political Discourse: Towards a Pragmatic Approach).
- Translation of Political Discourse (Faculdade de Letras, Universidade
do Porto Paraskevi Kaplani, Styliani Karra) PPT.