Building up discourse coherence: Creating identities in political speeches

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978-1-4438-1308-2 (vyhledej v knihovnách)

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Discourse interpretation is a dynamic process dependent on the background knowledge of the interactants, their relationship and the situational, socio-cultural and pragmatic context in which the interaction takes place. When encoding and decoding meanings in discourse, interactants endeavour to derive an understanding which furthers communication, i.e. they strive to negotiate an interpretation which is, if not identical, sufficiently overlapping to make interaction possible. Coherence, viewed as the interpretative perception of meaningfulness and purposefulness of discourse, is a key aspect of discourse comprehension which encompasses conceptual connectedness, evaluative and dialogical consistency and textual relatedness.
This investigation explores coherence in political speeches focusing on the construction of identities, related social roles and interpersonal and institutional relations. The author argues that consistent self-representation (together with other-presentation) based on referential strategies, such as the use of personal pronouns with anaphoric and deictic interpretation and nominal categorization, contributes to the perception of coherence on all planes of discourse. In addition, since in the genre of political speeches the establishment of existential coherence of the speaker and the institution he/she represents is a crucial factor for acquiring credibility and thus enhancing the persuasive power of the talk, consistent self- and other-representation are regarded as key components in building up an interdiscoursal dimension of coherence. The analysis, undertaken from a pragmatics and stylistics point of view, scrutinises a relatively neglected type of political talk–diplomatic communication within the United Nation’s system; it uses as example a corpus of speeches of the last three Directors-General of UNESCO at the opening of international conferences and meetings, while taking in consideration idiosyncratic variation in the speeches of the three orators.


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