Volume 10 (1) 2018: Special Issue – Proceedings of the 6th Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines Conference (Catania)


Anna W. Gustafsson & Charlotte Hommerberg

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  • The clichéd conceptualization of cancer illness as a battle, which the patient can either win or lose, can be problematic. For patients referred to palliative care, it can cause feelings of guilt and failure. This framing of cancer, here referred to as ‘the battle script’, has been questioned in previous research, and there seems to be awareness among health practitioners that battle metaphors should be avoided.

    The aim of this paper is to shed light on this battle script by examining the discursive dynamics of metaphor use in a large corpus of Swedish blogs written by terminally ill patients. The study focuses on two common linguistic metaphors, kämpa [fight/struggle] and ge upp [give up]. These expressions have the potential to actualize the battle script, but do not necessarily do so, due to their ambiguous meanings. By analyzing the contextualized meaning of these two metaphors, we illustrate the normality of the battle script as well as the problem to handle the perceived normativity of the script. We also discuss discursive strategies used by the bloggers to handle the negative implications of the battle script.

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    14. Potts, A. and Semino, E. (2017). Healthcare professionals’ online use of violence metaphors for care at the end of life in the US: A corpus-based comparison with the UK. Corpora (12)1: 55-84.
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Stefania M. Maci

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  • The aim of this paper is to analyse the extent to which, if any, Twitter has a role in transmitting information and giving way to collaborative journalism – that form of journalism in which people actively take part in news construction – and in what ways ideology and consensus are constructed.

    The killing of two black people in 2015 by the police, in Ferguson and Baltimore, US, resulted in an explosion of riots and social disorder in which the media showed a great interest, simultaneously mirrored in social media. In particular, Twitter proved to be a successful resource for both popular collaborative journalism and collective social action. Because of this novel role assigned to Twitter, attention has to be paid to the relationship that exists between our society, its stereotypes and prejudices, and social networks (Zappavigna 2012).

    Starting with a linguistic analysis of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal editorials about Trayvon Martin’s and Eric Garner’s deaths (with a contrastive investigation of ‘on the surface’ and ‘beneath the surface’ discourse at macro- and micro-levels; cf. Hall 1992: 291, and van Dijk 2000), I will move on to an analysis of tweets related to those same episodes, thematically linked by the #blacklivesmatter and #icantbreathe hashtags in Twitter, in order to see how perceptions and opinions are constructed in texts where space is a severe constraint.

    This corpus linguistic analysis, based on more than 2,000 tweets collected with Tweetarchivist (www.tweetarchivist.com), is grounded in CDA (Fairclough 1995, 2015; Wodak 1996; Wodak and Ludwig 1999). The results suggest that while in the newspapers the language used seems to reflect corporate ideologies, tweets mirror the stereotypes existing in the society which is responsible for constructing them.

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Douglas Mark Ponton & Vincenzo Asero

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  • This paper explores the notion of sustainability for the cruise industry, as a rhetorical/semiotic construct in the companies’ promotional campaigns. It offers some reflections from the perspective of cruise tourism management, and highlights the need for responsible tourist service providers to balance rent-seeking activities with the need to preserve natural and cultural resources. As part of an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach, and from a broadly critical perspective, it asks whether the concept has any meaning as used in these contexts, or whether the notion of corporate greenwashing (Ramus and Montiel 2005) must be invoked to account for its use. Linguistic analysis focuses on the strategies for marketing sustainable tourism in the worldwide web, through slogans, buzzwords, lists of environmentally friendly practices and other semantic and multimodal features that occur on the sites.

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Ella Lillqvist & Anu A. Harju

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  • With much contemporary discussion on social media and the ethics and transparency of the way they operate, this article examines the discursive processes of user engagement as Baudrillardian solicitation. The concept of solicitation allows us to conceptualize social media use as a transactional process whereby the user is enticed by a promise of a ‘Gift’ and thus lured into using a service or a product. Simultaneously, the very act of participation implicates the user, albeit unwittingly, in the sanctioning and legitimizing of the operational logic behind social media. Adopting a CDS perspective, we explore the ways in which Facebook entices users through discursive processes of solicitation. We analyse, making use of corpus linguistic tools, both Facebook corporate communication and user reactions. Our findings show that the user is enticed by foregrounding the value of participation for the user and promising four types of Gift: protection, freedom of expression, personal connection, and a general altruism on the part of the corporation. Thus, this study sheds light on how users are enticed discursively by the social media company and the ways in which they either accept the discourse or resist it.

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Taryn Bernard


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  • Growing awareness of the negative environmental and social impact of corporate activities has prompted large South African mining companies to publish reports that communicate their awareness of such issues. This study draws on Van Leeuwen’s (2008) socio-semantic framework to analyse the ways in which two South African companies construct social actors in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Integrated Annual (IA) reports. The analysis reveals that the companies draw on a fixed set of linguistic devices and strategies when representing higher- and lower-wage employees respectively. With these findings in mind, the study argues that these linguistic representations have an important role in maintaining relationships of power, dominance and social inequality in the South African mining industry.

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Martina Temmerman, Maaike van de Voorde & Roel Coesemans

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  • The general interest in printed magazines is declining, but women’s magazines seem to resist this tendency better than their general news counterparts. Their relevance cannot be underestimated since they contribute to the wider cultural processes which define the position of women in a given society at a given point of time. Furthermore, they help to create both the woman’s self-image and that which society has of her. The popularity of these magazines, together with their great impact, warrants an academic interest into the way they have (not) responded to or contributed to contemporary ideas about womanhood and gender, and more in particular, the issue of women’s roles in their (partner) relationships.The present paper is part of a larger, historical study of the Flemish women’s magazines Het Rijk der Vrouw, Libelle and Flair (1953-2013), in which we want to gain insight into the way these magazines articulate and represent women’s roles in partner relationships. This paper presents the results of the first part of the study, namely the linguistic discourse analysis, in which we analysed the textual representation of women, men and their mutual relationships. The research focus is diachronic: we started by analysing the magazines of 1953 and then continued up to 2013. Inspired by the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 1999; Van Dijk 1993; Wodak and Meyer 2001; Wodak and Chilton 2005; Machin and Mayr 2012), we have conducted a lexical analysis of the naming practices used to refer to women and men, and consequently, their mutual relationships. The key findings suggest that women’s relationships with men, although different, are still integral to the ethos of these magazines. As could be expected, the focus on marriage has declined. At the same time, the number of roles that men can take on in women’s lives has increased, and, most notably, the presence of a loving man in women’s lives is still a central theme.

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Gaetano Falco

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  • The paper aims at analyzing the discourse of financial and economic crisis. Focusing on the latest scandals that have affected the automobile industry, the paper illustrates the results of research that investigates the discourse strategies used by corporations to manage events of crisis and meltdown. In particular, it delves into the discursive practices used in the ‘Letters to the Shareholders’ by CEOs and/or Chairmen, which are representative of governance genres (Fairclough 2003; Zanola 2010). The methodology adopted in the study is principally based on contributions from pragmatics and crisis communication, as well as critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. In particular, it draws upon Searle’s (1976) direction of fit and Hearit’s (2006) Theory of Apologia. An accurate analysis of the illocutionary force conveyed by speech acts and speech act sets demonstrates that the ultimate strategy of corporations to repair their image is not so much apologizing for their wrongdoings, as providing an apologia to disclaim responsibility for the damage they caused.

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Antonella Napolitano

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  • Customers are today becoming more and more reliant on online reviews before making their buying decisions. TripAdvisor platform, in particular, has become a first stop for holiday planning. User-generated contents have acquired the huge power to influence companies’ popularity and thence their economic performance. Firms cannot generally get negative comments removed, but TripAdvisor grants owners the opportunity to publish a reply. Complaint response represents a critical part of a business’ customer relationship management. The present study called into question the way restaurants exploit such medium, by investigating management replies to negative comments in the UK (tripadvisor.co.uk) and Italy (tripadvisor.it). The paper considered a corpus of low score reviews left on the website about properties situated in the capitals of the two countries. Genre and corpus-assisted discourse analysis were applied to examine the owners’ attitudes toward criticism in the two different cultural contexts. The research focused on the rhetorical moves and the language exploited by management to try to defend reputation by rebuilding trust or, instead, by imposing the firm’s contrasting point of view. The study revealed that British restaurants tend to use impersonal, polite and professional responses to criticism, while Italian owners often show an improvised, direct, emotional—and even angry—management of negative comments.

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Maija Stenvall

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  • The paper examines the roles construed to migrants and to European states in Reuters and AP news agency reports autumn 2015 and spring 2016. In 2015, more than a million migrants came to Europe. Most of them crossed the sea corridor between Turkey and Greece, which resulted in a chaos along the so called ‘Balkan route’ towards richer European countries. By March and April 2016, several European countries had either closed their borders or tightened the border controls, moving the problems elsewhere. Metaphors have a vital role in the analysis. States have been metaphorically personalised, and can thus be evaluated by Appraisal values. At the same time, migrants are often seen as a natural disaster, e.g., as a ‘chaotic flood’. These kinds of ‘liquid metaphors’ transform the migrants’ ordeal into an inanimate phenomenon and blur the responsibility of human actors. In the issues of responsibility, I draw mainly on two concepts from Functional grammar: ergativity and nominalisation. The study also gives clear evidence of the ‘news value’ related to ‘geographical closeness’. When the ‘Balkan route’ was more or less shut, the focus of the news media was no longer on Central Europe. Though the crisis was as bad as before, a lot of it was ‘out of sight’, as Reuters states in August 2016.

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Chiara Nardone

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  • In recent years, interest towards CADS has significantly grown but cross-linguistic analysis still represents a small niche in this research field, as emphasized in Partington et al. 2013. Furthermore, Schafroth (2015) highlighted that, in Romance and German Studies, the combination of Corpus Linguistics and Discourse Analysis has not yet received much attention. This contribution aims at investigating, from a comparative corpus-assisted perspective, how the discourse on ‘women and work’ is constructed in German and Italian. The analysis has been carried out on two large corpora (itTenTen and deTenTen). First, lexical collocates of sequences containing the combinations ‘women, work’, ‘work, women’, ‘men, work’ and ‘work, men’ have been collected both in Italian and in German. Then, a sample of concordance lines has been studied in further detail. Results of the collocational analysis show that the discourse on ‘women and work’ is constructed around different semantic areas in German and Italian (i.e. respectively around the topic of equal pay and that of equal opportunities). On the grounds of these results, it can be argued that in both countries the issue of ‘women and work’ is still considered ‘problematic’, even though the size and kind of ‘problems’ to be solved are different.

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BOOK REVIEW Page 187-189

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Claudia Viggiano:

Hodge, B. (2016). Social Semiotics for a Complex World: Analysing Language and Social Meaning. Cambridge: Polity Press. xvii + 258 pages; ISBN: 9780745696218; £16.99 (pbk), £55 (hbk).

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