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Textual description of the data

On the textual level, the political advert consists of two slogans accompanied by the name of the candidate and the identification of the election campaign (Senat 2010). Both slogans are explicitly intertextual, and both are oriented retrospectively to the past and prospectively to the future.

The first slogan, “Znate me, volte me!” [“You know me, vote for me”], consists of two parallel clauses. The first of the clauses (“You know me”) claims common ground with the recipients, while the second (“vote for me”), since it is imperative, i.e. an utterance with a conative function, urges the recipients to act in a certain way. The clauses are juxtaposed without any conjunctive element, yet their placement side by side invites a causative interpretation, i.e. “You know me [therefore] vote for me”. Interestingly enough, the reason for voting is not explicated with any reference to political programme, ideas, etc.: the appeal to cast vote for this person is based solely on the presumption that recipients are already familiar with the candidate. In this sense, the text operates intertextually and interdiscursively: it relies on prior texts and discourses.

The proclaimed knowledge of the candidate can be understood to concern the recipients’ familiarity with the candidate’s standpoints rather than any personal knowledge of her. Direct appeals to the recipients are relatively common in advertising discourse (cf. Cook 2001), as well as in various public and media discourses, where they are used as a strategy establishing or enhancing contact, also known as synthetic personalization-the illusion of addressing the mass of recipients on a seemingly one-to-one basis (cf. Fairclough 1989, Talbot 1995, Chovanec 2009). This gives rise to a situation of fake or quasi-interaction between the participants (Talbot 2007, Chovanec 2010b).1

The second slogan, “I nadale budu nkat, co si myslim!” [“I will keep on saying what I think”] constitutes the main message, i.e. the substance of the election promise made by the candidate. However, the nature of the promise is rather vague: it does not convey anything tangible about the [1]

candidate’s programme or ideas. Rather, it builds up her positive image, constructing her identity as a politician who, on the one hand, speaks honestly (cf. the embedded proposition that she “says what she thinks”) and, on the other, potentially delimits herself from others who-upon being elected into office-change their rhetoric.

The crucial part of the second slogan consists in the words “I nadale” [literally “even henceforth”, i.e. expressing continuation in the approximate sense of “to keep on”]. Thanks to this phrase, the utterance works both retrospectively (referring to her public comments made in the past) and prospectively (hinting at the candidate’s future verbal production). It could then be argued that the political promise actually consists in the continuation of prior discourses.

Importantly, the promise is-on the surface-purely metalingual. It is an explicit reflection of the way in which the candidate claims to have communicated with the public so far and how she wishes to communicate with them after her potential re-election. Such metalingual election promises are relatively common in political advertising, if only because they communicate generally accepted values that can be agreed upon by anybody, regardless of their ideological beliefs. However, their vagueness and seeming innocuousness may result in unforeseen consequences when contrasted with reality. [2]

However, as will be shown in the next section, the metalingual nature of the promise is, in fact, only one element of the communicated content. The second element consists in the presumption of shared knowledge about the politician’s public statements in the past, which is triggered by the phrase “I nadale” [“even henceforth”]. Since many of those remarks were beyond the limits of acceptability and contributed to her reputation as a racist (i.e. anti-Roma in the Czech context), this favours the interpretation of the slogans as implicit racist discourse, or at least, a metalingual promise to continue with (past) racist discourse and acts in the future.

  • [1] The interpersonal dimension of both slogans is further enhanced through the useof exclamation marks. As exclamatives, the utterances do not merely make afactual statement but indicate the expressivity of the encoder (cf. a similarphenomenon in the Czech tabloid press, which tends to overuse exclamation marksin headlines, in order to increase the appeal of the stories).
  • [2] An infamous example is the election slogan “Myslim to upnmne" [literally “Imean it honestly”, approximately “I have honest intentions”], which the formerCzech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross used on election billboards in the early2000s. The slogan became a source of much public ridicule, particularly afterGross turned out to be unable to explain adequately a sudden and dramatic increasein the value of his property. The serious allegations of political corruption stood instark contrast to the politician’s self-proclaimed “honesty”, seriously discreditingnot only his political career but the whole programme of his party. Nowadays, themetalingual phrase has assumed a life of its own-it is commonly used by thepublic as a general sneer at politicians’ untrustworthiness.
 
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