A pragmatic analysis of the use of person deixis in political discourse

Journal of Pragmatics 01/1994; DOI: 10.1016/0378-2166(94)90010-8

ABSTRACT Previous research into the persuasive functions of first-person plural deictic pronominals has not adequately accounted for the complex pragmatic process involved in the resolution of such pronouns and the consequent effects of such complexity on the persuasive functions of indexicals. The present paper addresses this gap by means of an analytic framework that introduces the concept of ‘discourse spaces’ and demonstrates its interrelationships with participant structures, participant roles, linguistic indicators, and deixis. Through analysis of one interlocutor's responses in a televised political speech event, it is demonstrated that the relationships that hold among these concepts and elements are crucial to the analysis of vague deixis, and the consequent potential persuasive functions of such usage. It further demonstrates that a speaker's power of persuasion is greatly determined by an ability to shift in and out of various roles within and across ‘discourse spaces’. This study synthesizes and extends findings from the various theoretical and methodological approaches of political discourse analysis, studies on the resolution of referring expressions, and theories concerning the different ‘realities’ evoked in social interaction and language.

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