Volume 2 (1) 2008


Donna L. Lillian

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  • Modality as a linguistic device encompasses a variety of forms, including (but not limited to) modal auxiliaries, modal verbs, modal adverbs, and modal adjectives.  The present paper focuses specifically on the use of modal auxiliaries in two political texts.  The first text, Beyond Greed: A Traditional Conservative Confronts Neoconservative Excess, is by Hugh Segal, who might be described as a ‘mainstream’ Canadian conservative, and the second, The War Against the Family, is by William D. Gairdner, who represents a far right neoconservative position in Canadian politics.  Fowler (1985) proposes five categories of modality:  validity, predictability, desirability, obligation, and permission.  Following Fowler, I classify the modals in Segal’s book of approximately 35,000 words and in a representative 35,000 words segment of Gairdner’s book. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming number of clauses in both texts fall into the categories of validity and predictability, which are, to some extent, the default modalities of (quasi) academic non-fiction texts.  Interesting difference arise, however, when one considers the deontic modalities of desirability, permission, and obligation. Using the data obtained through this analysis, I argue that Segal’s writing constitutes persuasion, whereas Gairdner’s constitutes manipulation.

    1. Bliss, R. (2005).  Manipulation in the speeches and writings of Hitler and the NSDAP from a relevance theoretic point of view. In L. de Saussure and P. Schultz (eds),Manipulation and Ideologies in the Twentieth Century: Discourse, Language, Mind. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp.169-190. 
    2. Coates, J. (1983).  The Semantics of the Modal Auxiliaries. London: Croom Helm.
    3. Fowler, R. (1985).  Power. In T. A. van Dijk (ed.), Handbook of Discourse Analysis, Vol. 4. London: Academic Press, Inc. pp.61-82.
    4. Gairdner, W. D. (1992).  The War Against the Family. Toronto: Stoddart.
    5. Halliday, M.A.K. (2002a). Modes of meaning and modes of expression: Types of grammatical structure and their determination by different semantic functions (1979). In J. Webster (ed.), On Grammar.  London: Continuum. pp.196-218
    6. Halliday, M.A.K. (2002b) [1981]. Text semantics and clause grammar: How is a text like a clause?  In J. Webster (ed.), On Grammar. London: Continuum.  pp.219-260.
    7. Jespersen, O. (1924). The Philosophy of Grammar. London: Allen & Unwin.
    8. Jowett, G.S. and O’Donnell, V. (2006).  Propaganda and Persuasion (4th edn.). London: Sage.
    9. Lillian, D. L. (1996). Introducing trouble, or the trouble with the trouble with Canada. Papers from the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick.  pp.95-103.
    10. Lillian, D. L. (1997).  Transitivity as an ideological tool: The discourse of William D. Gairdner. Papers from the Twenty-first Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association. Halifax: Nova Scotia. pp.122-131.
    11. Lillian, D. L. (2005).  Homophobic discourse: A ‘popular’ Canadian example. SKY Journal of Linguistics 18: 119-144.
    12. Lillian, D. L. (2007).  A thorn by any other name: Sexist discourse as hate speech. Discourse & Society 18(6): 719-740.
    13. Lillian, D. L. (forthcoming).  Neo-Conservative racist discourse: A Canadian case study. WORD 57(1).
    14. Palmer, F. (1986).  Mood and Modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    15. Palmer, F. (2001).  Mood and Modality (2nd edn.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    16. Piqué-Angordans, J., Posteguillo, S. and Andreu-Besó, J.V. (2002).  Epistemic and deontic modality: A linguistic indicator of disciplinary variation in academic English. LSP & Professional Communication 2(2): 49-65.
    17. Rigotti, E. (2005).  Toward a typology of manipulative processes.  In L. de Saussure and P. Schultz (eds.), Manipulation and Ideologies in the Twentieth Century: Discourse, Language, Mind. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.  pp.61-83. 
    18. Segal, H. (1997).  Beyond Greed: A Traditional Conservative Confronts Neoconservative Excess. Toronto: Stoddart.
    19. Sulkunen, P. and Törrönen, J. (1997). The production of values: The concept of modality in textual discourse analysis. Semiotica 113(1/2): 43-69.
    20. van Dijk, T. A. (2006).  Discourse and manipulation. Discourse & Society 17(3): 359-383.
    21. von Wright, G.H. (1951).  An Essay in Modal Logic. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co.


Robert De Beaugrande

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  • Deconstructing discourse by means of counter-discourse is proposed as one method for critical discourse analysis. The case study concerns Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s controversial president with a massive presence in public discourse and the media. Apparently for the first time, samples of the discourse from his ‘49 laws’ are presented in English.

    1. Bolinger, D. (1980). Language – The Loaded Weapon. London: Longman.
    2. Lankshear, C. (ed.) (1993). Critical Literacy: Politics, Praxis, and the Postmodern. Albany: SUNY Press.
    3. Ramirez, L. and Gallardo, O.M. (2001). Portraits of Teachers in Multicultural Settings: A Critical Literacy Approach. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
    4. Weil, D.K. (1998). Towards a Critical Multicultural Literacy: Theory and Practice for Education for Liberation. New York: Peter Lang.


Anna Ewa Wieczorek

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  • This methodological-critical paper aims to investigate the interplay between three prime strategies for legitimisation of the speaker’s actions, or actions for which she/he bears responsibility in political discourse: proximisation (cf. Cap 2006), common ground, and assertion-based patterns. It starts with a brief description of the phenomenon of linguistic legitimisation of the speaker’s actions, or of actions for which she/he is responsible. The notion may be readily associated with one of the positive politeness strategies proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987), however, it is far more than a politeness strategy, as it consists of a number of pragmatic and extra-pragmatic phenomena: (a) proximisation theory and the STA model for legitimisation (Cap 2005, 2006) enriched with positive, negative and neutral values, (b) assertive speech acts, and their role in assertive-directive and thesis-antithesis patterns, (c) common ground strategy. The operation of these mechanisms will be demonstrated in the analysis of a speech delivered by the Spanish Prime Minister on the acceptance of the bill allowing same-sex marriages. The application of a top-down approach to the analysis (de? Beaugrande 1991) reveals that all the aforementioned aspects comprise a net of complementary linguistic mechanisms ideally suited for the purpose of legitimisation.

    1. Austin, J. (1962). How to Do Things With Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    2. Beaugrande, R. de. (1991). Linguistic Theory: The Discourse of Fundamental Works. London: Longman.
    3. Brown, P. and Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    4. Cap, P. (2005). Language and legitimization: Developments on the proximization model of political discourse analysis. Lodz Papers in Pragmatics I: 7-36.
    5. Cap, P. (2006). Legitimisation in Political Discourse: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective on the Modern US War Rhetoric. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    6. Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.
    7. Dontcheva-Navratilova, O. (2005). Politeness strategies in institutional speech acts. Masarykovy Univerzity: http://www.ped.muni.cz/weng/co4et2/docs/Navratilova.pdf
    8. Leech, G. (1983) Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.
    9. Levinson, S. (1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    10. Mann, W. (1984). Discourse structures for text generation. ACL Anthology: A Digital Archive of Research Papers on Computational Linguistics: http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/P84-1076.
    11. Pagin, P. (2007). Assertion. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/ entries/assertion/
    12. Schäffner, C. (1996). Editorial: Political speeches and discourse analysis. Current Issues in Language and Society 3/3: http://www.multilingual-matters.net/cils/003/0201/ cils0030201.pdf.
    13. Sperber, D. and Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
    14. van Dijk, T. (2005). War rhetoric of a little ally: Political implicatures and Aznar’s legitimization of the war in Iraq. Journal of Language and Politics 4 (1): 65-91.
    15. van Dijk, T. (2006). Discourse and manipulation. Discourse and Society 17 (2): 359-383.


Cheng Le, Sin Kui King & Zheng Ying-Long

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  • Whether in legal practice or jurisprudence, court judgments or case briefs are one of the most important legal genres for the legal profession. The paper aims to examine contrastively the linguistic characteristics, moves and rhetoric of Chinese and American court judgments, with the aim of specifying the rhetorical preferences that are characteristic of ‘standard’ judgments. Legal cultures are employed to account for the generic and rhetorical differences. This study also has an underlying pedagogical motivation in that the results would be of great value and interest to the Chinese students of Language for Legal Purposes (LLP) and the lawyers practicing foreign legal affairs.

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    7. Myers, G. (1992). Speech acts and scientific facts. Journal of Pragmatics 17.


Mei Li Lean

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  • The study focuses on news reports relating to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who were given extensive media coverage during the handover period. The transition of both premiers was considered an event as Abdullah’s leadership style is viewed as different from his predecessor, while Lee’s ascension is expected since he is the son of the first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. The investigation of the present study is undertaken using the analytic paradigm of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) employed by van Dijk (1996, 1998), Fairclough (1992a, 1995a, 1995b, 2003) and Fowler (1991). The analysis looks at a general characterization of the newspaper discourse, with a focus on particular discursive strategies (i.e. newspaper headlines, leads, captions under photographs; quotation patterns; over-lexicalisation) employed to conceal ideological meanings. A corpus of newspaper articles of a local daily, The Star, is examined on 100 days after Abdullah took office, and the three months leading to Lee’s premiership. Results from the analyses illustrate how the representation of Abdullah and Lee as ‘Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘Mr Mysterious Guy’ respectively, are reinforced using the various discursive strategies mentioned above.

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    2. ‘Abdullah takes over in Malaysia’. (October 31, 2003). BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3232477.stm. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
    3. ‘Lee Hsien Loong’. (November 9, 2005). Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Hsien_Loong. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
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    5. ‘Profile: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’. (October 31, 2003). BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/2064535.stm. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
    6. ‘The Cabinet’. (March, 2005). The Government of Singapore http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/p_pmlee.htm. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
    7. Abbugao, M. (July 19, 2004). ‘Goh steps down with a mission completed’. The Star, B21.
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    13. Fairclough, N. (1992b). Discourse and text: Linguistic and intertextual analysis within discourse analysis. Discourse & Society 3: 193-217.
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    25. Netto, A. (2003a). ‘Abdullah Badawi: Malaysia’s tinker man.’ Asia Times Online. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/printN.html. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
    26. Netto, A. (2003b). ‘Malaysia: Survival of the fittest’. Asia Times Online. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/printN.html. Accessed on 14 November 2005.
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    29. Simpson, P. (1993). Language, Ideology and Point of View. London: Routledge.
    30. Teo, P. (2000). Racism in the news: a critical discourse analysis of news reporting in two Australian newspapers. Discourse & Society 11(1): 7-49.
    31. Wain, B. (August 19, 2004). ‘Enter the son’. Far Eastern Economic Review 167 (33): 14 -18.
    32. Van Dijk, T. A. (1988). News as Discourse. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
    33. Van Dijk, T. A. (1991). Racism and the Press. London: Routledge.
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    35. Van Dijk, T. A. (1996). Discourse, Power and Access. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard and M. Coulthard (eds.), Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge. pp.84-106.
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Joanne Jung-Wook Hong

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  • The study is concerned with revealing some changes in the discourse of the multinational fast food company McDonald’s in responding to the criticisms against its business practice, particularly through investigating two ideologically competing communicative voices: the criticisms of McDonald’s business practice (e.g. the London Greenpeace leaflet ‘What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?’) and letters from the McDonald’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) to shareholders titled ‘Dear Fellow Shareholders’ in the annual reports published in 1997, 2003 and 2006. The study also discusses what caused those changes through looking at changes in consumer behaviour, culture and life style in society.  These changes are investigated by an analytical framework, Discourse Formations (DFs) (McAndrew, 2001, 2004), which provides a chance to witness the ideological struggles and changes in intratextual and intertextual relations. The intertextual analysis is based on analysing the consistently foregrounded intratextual meanings around core participants. In this study, the core participants are from the key terms in the criticism leaflet ‘What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?’ which brought the most crucial impact on damaging McDonald’s brand image through McDonald’s business history. The meanings of core participants are investigated and compared intratextually and intertextually in McDonald’s 1997, 2003 and 2006 CEO’s letters, which relates the meanings of the corresponding core participants with using the terms, Alliance or Opposition. Through the intertextual analysis and using Critical Discourse Analysis perspectives, the study will find how McDonald’s changes the construction of its social relationships, identities and beliefs in dealing with the criticisms.

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    8. Hyland, K. (1998). Exploring Corporate Rhetoric: Metadiscourse in the CEO’s Letter. The Journal of Business Communication, Volume 35, Number 2, April, p224-245.
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    14. Ritzer, G. (2002). The McDonaldization of Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
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    16. Schlosser, E. (2001). Fastfood Nation : What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World. London: Allen Lane.