Volume 3 (1) 2009


Anna Marchi & Charlotte Taylor

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  • This paper reports on a quasi-experiment into triangulation, which is increasingly frequently cited as a guarantor of validity and reliability of findings. The methodology that we are exploring is the increasingly widely employed combination of corpus linguistics and (critical) discourse analysis. It has been argued that corpus approaches can offer greater objectivity because they are data-driven (or at least data-supported), more generalisable as they are based on larger samples, and more transparent given the research may be replicated on the same data. In order to explore the extent to which integrating corpus approaches may contribute to the stability of interpretations the authors set up an exploratory experiment. We attempt to answer the question: would two researchers starting with the same corpus and research question and (broadly) theoretical / methodological framework come to the same/similar conclusions?

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    3. Baker, J.P. (2007) Discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, 1996-2006: Full Research Report. ESRC End of Award Report, RES-000-22-1381. Swindon: ESRC.
    4. Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., Khosravinik, M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T. and Wodak, R. (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse & Society 19 (3): 273-305.
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Agnieszka Sowinska

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  • The aim of the article is to investigate the construction of Europe as illustrated by the coverage of the Lisbon Summit (18-19 October 2007) and signing of the Lisbon Treaty (13 December 2007) in quality newspapers in Britain and Poland, the two countries on the EU’s periphery, whose leaders (the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Polish President Lech Kaczyński) seem to be notorious for displaying their semi-detached attitude towards Europe. The corpus for the analysis comes from quality newspapers of both right-wing, conservative (Rzeczpospolita, The Daily Telegraph) and left-wing, liberal orientation (Gazeta Wyborcza, The Guardian).  Drawing on the strengths of the discourse-historical tradition of CDA in particular (Reisigl and Wodak 2001), the article will focus on answering the following questions: 1) How is the Lisbon Summit represented in both Polish and British newspapers and how is it situated in the broader political and historical context of European integration? 2) Which actors are selected in the coverage, which roles are ascribed to them, and how are they evaluated? 3) What metaphors and topoi are applied for legitimising or delegitimising the European Union as a political space?

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Germana D’Acquisto & Stefania D’Avanzo

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  • The aim of this study is to analyse the language of two international treaties, the United Nations Charter (1945) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).  As a work in progress it investigates the role of SHALL and SHOULD in the institutional language of the United Nations and of the Council of Europe through a comparison between the English versions of the documents and their Italian translations.  It also will take into account the ambiguity and vagueness of some English central modals in legal texts and the difficulty in translating them into a different language (Gotti 2005, Williams 2007, Bybee 1985, Trosborg 1997, Palmer 2004).  The analysis is based on Halliday’s (1994) ideational and interpersonal functions focusing on the concept of tenor, field and mode.  The study will take into account van Dijk’s claim (1993) about the concepts of ‘dominance’ defined as ‘[…] the exercise of social power by elites, institutions or groups that results in social equality […] directive speech acts such as commands or orders may be used to enact power and hence also to exercise and to reproduce dominance’.  Since translation is a complex process involving two different semiotic systems in a context of diverse cultures it means that we usually have expectations about the way in which language operates in legal contexts although they are not clearly stated anywhere but in legal culture.  Moreover, archaisms and ambiguous verbal forms may create barriers to an effective understanding of legal issues.  Due to all these reasons, a process of modernization in drafting texts is crucial, to make them accessible from one audience to another and from one language to another as well.  Thus, our study will investigate ambiguity originated from verbs and phrases that can be found in international legal texts and consequent difficulties in translating them.  More specifically, our attention will be focused on the modals SHALL and SHOULD, translated into Italian in some very different ways.  In particular, SHALL has been considered ‘ubiquitous’ in legal texts since it expresses a deontic modality intrinsically projected towards situations and behaviour located in the future (Williams 2007: 116).  The contrastive analysis of the documents will provide evidence of difficulties encountered in the interpretation of the value and of the meaning of modal auxiliary verbs in different languages.  Thus, in the translation process, understanding the pragmatic values in the communicative interaction between the legal authority and the addressees is crucial.  As Williams (2007: 11) asserts: ‘Interpreting the intention of the lawmakers and those who drafted a particular law inevitably entails a detailed scrutiny of the language and prolonged interpretative debate’.  A contrastive analysis of the English and the Italian versions of international treaties will also provide evidence of difficulties in mediating between two languages and cultures.

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Nicci Macleod

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  • The methods used by the UK Police to investigate complaints of rape have unsurprisingly come under much scrutiny in recent times, with a 2007 joint report on behalf of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary concluding that there were many areas where improvements should be made.  The research reported here forms part of a larger project which draws on various discourse analytical tools to identify the processes at work during police interviews with women reporting rape.  Drawing on a corpus of video recorded police interviews with women reporting rape, this study applies a two pronged analysis to reveal the presence of these ideologies.  Firstly, an analysis of the discourse markers ‘well’ and ‘so’ demonstrates the control exerted on the interaction by interviewing officers, as they attach importance to certain facts while omitting much of the information provided by the victim.  Secondly, the interpretative repertoires relied upon by officers to ‘make sense’ of victim’s accounts are subject to scrutiny.  As well as providing micro-level analyses which demonstrate processes of interactional control at the local level, the findings of these analyses can be shown to relate to a wider context – specifically prevailing ideologies about sexual violence in society as a whole. 

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Gerard O’Grady

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  • This study examines the representation of three prisoners held at Guantanamo in the online editions of four newspapers; The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Independent.  It does this: by examining the verbal processes and the Participant Roles in which the three detainees were represented in the four titles over a four year period; by explicating the attributed voices used in each title’s reported discourse; and by contrasting the construals of the three detainees in reported clauses with the construals of the detainees in a small human rights corpus from the same period.  The study found that despite the newspapers’ overt claims to be opposed to the extra-judicial imprisonment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo the representations of the three detainees suggested that the two American titles positioned themselves vis-a-vis the three prisoners ideologically as implicit promoters of a ‘national security’ discourse while the British papers managed to ideologically position themselves at times as supportive of the national security argument and at other times as supportive of the human rights discourse.

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John E. Ingulsrud & Kate Allen

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  • Practitioners of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and media control discourse view their work as contributing to the social good.   In addition, both share the literacy practices of engaging in the text critically.   However, CDA practitioners would probably resist having their work compared with that of media control discourse.   They would prefer to see their goal as emancipatory, as opposed to defending perceived standards motivated by fear.  This article describes similarities and differences of the two approaches in terms of reading text.   Four general positions are presented to describe ways in which a text can be read.   The article then illustrates how one media control text, Frederic Wertham’s ‘Seduction of the Innocent’, was successful in bringing about social change in the United States as comics were censored and attitudes towards them were profoundly altered.   In contrast, manga in Japan were not suppressed and censored in the same way, providing an example of what developed in the absence of such social critique.  Wertham’s success provides a cautionary note for CDA practitioners as they attempt to effect social change.

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