The Politics Of Language


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slides for the session the language of politics - unit language and society

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  • To attack – destroyDestroying an individual targetDestroying the enemy first – getting your retaliation in firstCapacity to deliver all types of strikeLarge nuclear bombSmall nuclear bombKilling the civilian populationKilling the civilian populationEffect = anaesthatising
  • Inter-continental ballistic missileSubmarine launched ballistic missileAnti-ballistic missileEnhanced radiation weaponMulti-independently targeted re-entry vehicleStrategic arms limitation talksStrategic arms reduction talksMutually assured destruction
  • The Politics Of Language

    1. 1. The Politics of Language<br />12:47<br />
    2. 2. Political Language<br />What is meant by ‘politics’?<br />How would you rephrase the following in order to explain their meanings to someone from another culture?<br />They made careers for themselves in politics<br />Sexual politics<br />Don’t get involved in office politics<br />The personal is political<br />Philosophy, Politics and Economics<br />Environmental politics<br />12:47<br />
    3. 3. Implicature<br />Political discourse relies on Sapir’s idea that language can influence people’s perception of certain issues and concepts<br />One of the means to achieve this is through implicature.<br />We will save the NHS<br />Put country before party this election<br />Invest in a future we can all enjoy<br />Make the difference<br />The green alternative to a better life<br />12:47<br />
    4. 4. The tyranny of language<br />Korzybski<br />‘we may safely say that whatever we say something is, it is not.’<br />Are words really things?<br />Language transmits the accumulated knowledge of generations. But if not properly verbalised language can twist or even arrest human development. (remember Whorf … Bernstein …?)<br />12:47<br />
    5. 5. The tyranny of language<br />Barthes<br />Language is fascist<br />Compulsion – ‘tu’ or ‘vous’?<br />We must choose!<br />Literature is the way out of compulsion – where language can be twisted and played with.<br />12:47<br />
    6. 6. Representation is interested<br />Language is not neutral. It is not merely a vehicle which carries ideas. It is itself a shaper of ideas, it is the programme for mental activity (Whorf, 1976). In this context it is nothing short of ludicrous to conceive of human beings as capable of grasping things as they really are, of being impartial recorders of their world. For they themselves, or some of them at least, have created or constructed the world and they have reflected themselves within it. (my emphasis)<br />Spender, D. (1980)<br />12:47<br />
    7. 7. Vocabulary and weapons (1)<br />What do the following expressions mean? What effect do they have on the reader?<br />To mount a strike<br />A surgical strike<br />A pre-emptive strike<br />Flexible response<br />Strategic nuclear weapon<br />Tactical nuclear weapon<br />Demographic targeting<br />Collateral damage<br />12:47<br />
    8. 8. Vocabulary and weapons (2)<br />Abbreviation<br />ICBM<br />SLBM<br />ABM<br />ERW<br />Acronyms<br />MIRV<br />SALT<br />START<br />MAD<br />But in talk about nuclear weapons the one word missing is ….BOMB<br />It has been replaced with weapon<br />12:47<br />
    9. 9. Vocabulary and weapons (3)<br />What do the following terms refer to?<br />FAT MAN<br />LITTLE BOY<br />HONEST JOHN<br />TOMAHAWK<br />PERSHING<br />POSEIDON<br />POLARIS<br />TITAN<br />SKYBOLT<br />VULCAN<br />Poseidon was relied upon by sailors for a safe voyage on the sea. Many men drowned horses in sacrifice of his honor. He lived on the ocean floor in a palace made of coral and gems, and drove a chariot pulled by horses. However, Poseidon was a very moody divinity, and his temperament could sometimes result in violence. When he was in a good mood, Poseidon created new lands in the water and a calm sea. In contrast, when he was in a bad mood, Poseidon would strike the ground with a trident and cause unruly springs and earthquakes, ship wrecks, and drownings. <br /><br />12:47<br />
    10. 10. Vocabulary and weapons (4)<br />Blowback<br />Coalition of the willing<br />Combatants<br />Enhanced interrogation techniques<br />Extraordinary rendition<br />12:44<br />
    11. 11. ‘Who (or what) does what to whom (or what)’<br />Entities<br />‘protester’ ‘policeman’<br />Actions<br />‘arrest’<br />Circumstances<br />‘yesterday’<br />The policeman arrested the protesteryesterday.<br />Yesterday the policeman arrested the protester.<br />The policeman yesterday arrested the protester<br />agent circumstance process affected <br />The yesterday policeman arrested protester the arrested<br />The protester arrested the policeman yesterday<br />12:44<br />
    12. 12. Transitivity: The passive<br />The policeman yesterday arrested the protester<br />agent circumstance process affected <br />The protester was arrested by the police yesterday.<br />affected process agent circumstance<br />The protesterwas arrested yesterday.<br /> affected process circumstance<br />Three protesters were injured yesterday.<br /> affected process circumstance<br />12:48<br />
    13. 13. Ideological perspective<br />RIOTING BLACKS SHOT DEAD BY POLICE AS ANC LEADERS MEET Eleven Africans were shot dead and 15 wounded when Rhodesian police opened fire on a rioting crowd of about 2,000 in the African Highfield township of Salisbury this afternoon. The shooting was the climax of a day of some violence. (The Times)<br />POLICE SHOOT 11 DEAD IN SALISBURY RIOT Riot police shot and killed 11 African demonstrators and wounded 15 others here today in the Highfield African township on the outskirts of Salisbury. The number of casualties was confirmed by the police. … Disturbances had broken out … (The Guardian)<br />12:48<br />
    14. 14. Ideological perspective<br />RIOTING BLACKS | SHOT DEAD | BY POLICE<br /> affected process agent<br />POLICE | SHOOT | 11 DEAD<br />affected agent process<br />Eleven Africans | were shot dead and | 15 wounded<br />affected process & aff process<br />when | police | opened fire on | a rioting crowd<br /> agent process affected<br />12:48<br />
    15. 15. Ideological perspective<br />RIOTING BLACKS SHOT DEAD BY POLICE AS ANC LEADERS MEET [Eleven Africanswere shot dead and 15 wounded ] when Rhodesian policeopened fire on a rioting crowd of about 2,000 in the African Highfield township of Salisbury this afternoon. The shooting was the climax of a day of some violence.<br />SPLIT THREATENS ANC AFTER SALISBURY RIOTS After Sunday’s riots in which 13 Africans were killed and 28 injured, a serious rift in the ranks of the African National Council became apparent today<br />12:48<br />
    16. 16. Paris 2007<br />Identify the agents and affected in the following:<br />Altogether 130 policemen were injured, dozens by shotgun pellets that were fired from home-made bazookas.<br />Organised gangs of rioters used guns against police<br />Up to 30 officers were injured in clashes with youths.<br />Then rioters burned thousands of cars during two weeks of unrest following the accidental death of two youths who allegedly fled police<br />One of the officers was shot in the shoulder by a hunting rifle.<br />12:48<br />
    17. 17. London 2007<br />Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police on the Tube <br />because he acted in an “aggressive and threatening manner” just as a<br />suicide bomber would have done, the Old Bailey heard today. <br />The innocent Brazilian was killed when firearms officers mistook<br />him for a terrorist and fired seven hollow point “dumdum” bullets into his<br />head from close range. <br />Ronald Thwaites, QC, representing the Metropolitan Police, said that the<br />death of the 27-year-old was a “terrible accident” but not the fault of<br />officers who had reason to believe he was planning to murder commuters<br />on the London Underground. <br />He told the court: “He was shot because when he was challenged by police<br />he did not comply with them but reacted precisely as they had been briefed<br />a suicide bomber might react at the point of detonating his bomb. <br /><br />12:50<br />
    18. 18. Ideology<br />One question is representing factual accuracy<br />Another question is the role of ideology as patterns of linguistic choice.<br />Martin Montgomery argues that the choices that are made about how to represent civil disorder are not merely reflecting contrasting ideological positions. Those choices actually are the ideologies and the belief/value systems that constitute them. The hegemony of linguistic choice makes it more and more difficult to see and think differently about particular events.<br />12:50<br />
    19. 19. Representations of Race<br />BRITAIN INVADED BY AN ARMY OF ILLEGALS<br />Britain is being swamped by a tide of illegal immigrants so desperate<br />for a job that they will work for a pittance in our restaurants, cafes and<br />nightclubs.<br />Immigration officers are being overwhelmed with work. Last year 2,191<br />‘illegals’ were nabbed and sent back home. But there were tens of<br />thousands more, slaving behind bars, cleaning hotel rooms and working in<br />kitchens …<br />illegalssneak in by:<br />DECEIVING immigration officers when they are quizzed at airports.<br />DISAPPEARING after their entry visas run out.<br />FORGING work permits and other documents.<br />RUNNING AWAY FROM immigrant detention centres<br />Source: Sun 2 February 1989<br />12:50<br />
    20. 20. Representations of Race<br />Immigration officials …<br />Ended up taking away 13 Nigerians, all employed illegally.<br />Source: Sun 2 February 1989<br />The Dutch Critical Discourse analyst Teun Van Dijk has examined the representation of race in mainstream sources including press reports, speeches made in European legislative assemblies, schoolbooks, scientific and corporate discourse. He looks at linguistic patterns within texts and also between texts including references to the frames of interpretation texts make use of.<br />Van Dijk, T. (1991). Racism and the Press. London, Routledge.<br />12:50<br />
    21. 21. Conclusion<br />Choices of vocabulary or sentence structure give particular shape to experience, affecting how reality is depicted in deep and significant ways.<br />Reality is not ‘out there’, easily grasped in any simple way, rather, it is socially constructed with language playing a centrally important role.<br />The patterning of vocabulary and sentence structure shows us reality in a particular light and guides our apprehension of it.<br />12:50<br />