The Linguistics of Political Argument: The Spin-Doctor and the Wolf-Pack at the White House, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Linguistics of Political Argument

The Spin-Doctor and the Wolf-Pack at the White House, 1st Edition

By Alan Partington


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This book examines the relationship between the White House, in the person of its press secretary, and the press corps through a linguistic analysis of the language used by both sides. A corpus was compiled of around fifty press briefings from the late Clinton years. A wide range of topics are discussed from the Kosovo crisis to the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

This work is highly original in demonstrating how concordance technology and the detailed linguistic evidence available in corpora can be used to study discourse features of text and the communicative strategies of speakers. It will be of vital interest to all linguists interested in corpus-based linguistics and pragmatics, as well as sociolinguists and students and scholars of communications, politics and the media.

Table of Contents

Foreword: The spin-doctor and the wolf-pack

Introduction: Corpora, discourse, politics and the press

1. Briefings as a type of discourse

2. Footing: Who says what to whom

3. Voices of the press

4. Voices of the podium

5. Footing shift for attribution: 'According to the New York Times this morning'

6. 'Rules of Engagement': The interpersonal relationship between the podium and the press

7. Politics, power and politeness

8. Conflict talk

9. The form of words

10. Metaphors of the world

11. Rhetoric, bluster and on-line gaffes

12. Evasion and pursuit

13. General Conclusions

About the Author

Alan Partington is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Faculty of Political Science, Camerino University (Italy). He has published in the fields of phonetics, CALL, lexicology and corpus linguistics, and is the author of Patterns and Meanings: Using corpora for English language research and teaching (1998, Benjamins). He is currently researching ways in which corpus techniques can be used to study features of discourse.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Corpus Linguistics

Corpus based linguistics is a dynamic area of linguistic research. The series aims to reflect the diversity of approaches to the subject, and thus to provides a forum for debate and detailed discussion of the various ways of building, exploiting and theorizing about the use of corpora in language studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General