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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Contrastive Analysis of Discourse-pragmatic Aspects of Linguistic Genres

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Data and Method

Data

The data consists of the two speeches delivered by US Presidents George Bush Jr. and Barak Obama to the Arab World. The former was delivered by President Bush in Abu Dhabi on June 13th 2008 and is 3380 words long. The latter, entitled ‘A New Beginning’, was delivered by President Obama in Cairo on June 4th 2009 and is

5871 words long. The socio-historical significance of the speeches has already been described in the introduction to the present article.

Method

The methodology is a combination of quantitative corpus analysis and qualitative discourse-pragmatic analysis. Once the relevant stance types have been identified as explained in the section of Theoretical Background above, a search was made of the relevant linguistic items for the selected categories in each political speech by using a Concordancer (Monoconc). Frequency per 1000 words is calculated for each of the selected categories and statistical significance is determined by means of a contingency table x2 statistical test. The degree of significance is established as significant at p < 0.05 and as extremely significant at p < 0.01. The test is performed in the case of stance categories and negation in relation to the whole corpus of each speech, while in the rest of the categories the test is performed among the subtypes of a category in order to determine the significance of the sub-categories (types of personal pronouns, types of modality). The reason for this is that in the case of negation, the different subtypes indicate preferences in register but not differences within the functional and pragmatic category of negation in discourse; however, in the case of personal pronouns and modality, the difference in the choice between first, second and third person pronouns and types of modal verbs (epistemic and deontic) has significant implications for the signaling of the positioning and stance of each politician. The statistical frequency of stance markers is complemented by the reference to the keyness factor of selected lexical items, pronouns and modal verbs in each speech as compared to the other speech. Keyword significance is established according to the method proposed by Rayson (2008). This consists of a statistical method which calculates the significance of a word in a corpus against its possible significance in a reference corpus. In the present study the two speeches are used as corpora and each is analyzed with reference to the other. The quantitative results are followed by a discussion of the discourse pragmatic functions of significant categories selected from concordance lists of stance markers and keywords, namely, modal verbs and adverbs, negation, personal pronouns, mental verbs, etc. More specifically, the modal verbs which were searched for are the following: can, cannot, may, might, could, must, should, will, would. The modal adverbs and adjectives identified were: possible, possibly, likely; the negative words/particles were: not, no, *n’t; the mental verbs which were identified for were: know, believe, consider, feel. Finally, the personal pronouns searched for were: I, we, our, you, your.

 
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