Language Use in the Public Sphere

Methodological Perspectives and Empirical Applications

by Inés Olza Moreno (Volume editor) Óscar Loureda Lamas (Volume editor) Manuel Casado (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection 564 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 170


This book comprises a range of general discussions on tradition and innovation in the methodology used in discourse studies (Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Argumentation Theory, Rhetoric, Philosophy) and a number of empirical applications of such methodologies in the analysis of actual instances of language use in the public sphere – in particular, discourses arising in the context of the debate on the presence of religious symbols in public places.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface: Inés Olza, Óscar Loureda & Manuel Casado-Velarde
  • Part I. Tradition and Innovation in the Methodology of Discourse Studies
  • Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis: Tomás Albaladejo
  • 1. There is rhetoric in all discourses
  • 2. Rhetoric: a field in continuous expansion
  • 3. Rhetoric and the analysis of discourses. The constitution of the rhetorical discourse analysis
  • 4. Current trends and areas of research in the rhetorical analysis of discourse
  • References
  • Trust and Suspicion as Principles of Discourse Analysis: Manuel Casado-Velarde:
  • 1. Some milestones in the history of language under suspicion
  • 1.1. Nietzsche
  • 1.2. Other critics of language
  • 1.3. The Meaning of Meaning by Ogden and Richards
  • 2. Trust and suspicion in the nexus between logic and language: Coseriu’s contribution
  • 2.1. Excessive trust in language: logicism
  • 2.1.1. Distinction between (linguistic) meaning, or semantic content, and logic
  • 2.1.2. Language (meaningful expression) precedes logical thought
  • 2.1.3. The claim of an “ideal logical language”
  • 2.2. Anti-logicism and excessive suspicion
  • 2.3. “Natural” language and technical language
  • 2.4. Exorbitant claims regarding the regulated use of language
  • 2.4.1. Politically correct language
  • 2.4.2. What may – and may not – be expected from language
  • 3. The principles of trust and suspicion in contemporary philosophical hermeneutics
  • 4. The principle of trust, the principle of cooperation, the principle of relevance
  • 4.1. Coseriu’s formulation of the principle of trust
  • 4.2. Other analogous formulations: Grice, Sperber and Wilson
  • 4.2.1. Grice’s “principle of cooperation”
  • 4.2.2. Sperber and Wilson’s principle of pertinence or relevance
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • Metaphor and Argumentative Logic – a Crossroads between Philosophy and the Language Sciences: Lourdes Flamarique
  • 1. The symbolic-metaphorical nature of words
  • 2. Metaphor in contemporary thought: a few examples
  • 2.1. Metaphors in philosophy
  • 2.2. The philosophical thematization of metaphor
  • 3. Metaphor and argumentation: the interweaving of linguistics and the humanities
  • References
  • A ver, what do we have here? – Bueno, it’s no piece of cake. The Challenge of Translating Conversational Discourse Markers: Frank J. Harslem & Katrin Berty
  • 1. The translator and the “pretty unspectacular” discourse marker
  • 2. Conversational discourse markers in translation – an illustration
  • 2.1. Conversational markers in the original text
  • 2.2. The translator and the lexicographic representations of conversational markers – the case of bueno
  • 2.3. The translation of bueno – conversational markers in the target text
  • 2.4. The more complex the marker… the translator and the lexicographic representation of a ver
  • 2.5. Solutions in the target text
  • 3. Conclusion
  • References
  • Corpus
  • Dictionaries
  • References
  • The Epideictic Nature of Prestige Newspapers: Fernando López-Pan
  • 1. Epideictic theory: key features and contemporary distinctions
  • 1.1. Recovering the social significance of epideictic discourse
  • 1.2. The shift towards epideictic as perspective
  • 2. The epideictic nature of prestige newspapers
  • References
  • New Perspectives in Text Analysis: Introducing an Integrated Model of Text Linguistics: Óscar Loureda
  • Introduction
  • 1. The need for an “integrated” approach
  • 2. What happens when we speak: the cognitive-cultural dimension
  • 3. What happens when we speak: idiomatic knowledge
  • 3.1. Conventional assumptions and implicatures
  • 3.2. The conceptual meaning and the procedural meaning
  • 4. What happens when we speak: the text level
  • 4.1. The universal level
  • 4.2. The historical dimension of the text
  • 4.3. The individual or particular level
  • 5. The dynamic across the levels of the text: the example of discourse particles
  • 5.1. Cognitive determination
  • 5.2. Determination through the discursive tradition
  • 5.3. The purely individual determination
  • 6. Conclusions
  • References
  • The Theory of Argumentation within Language and its Application to Discourse Analysis: José Portolés & Jean Yates
  • 1. Argumentation within language
  • 2. Argumentation within Language and Pragmatics
  • 3. Argumentative Discourse
  • 4. Formulation
  • 5. Stereotyped Phrases
  • 6. Consequences forced through argumentation
  • 7. Conclusion
  • References
  • The Pragmatics of Discourse in the Public Sphere: Jef Verschueren
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Forms and functions
  • 3. Structure and context
  • 4. Reflexivity
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • Discourse, Coherence, Truth: Alejandro G. Vigo
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The process of “de-logicization” of meaning: from the “linguistic turn” to the “pragmatic-hermeneutic turn”
  • a. The “linguistic turn”
  • b. The “pragmatic-hermeneutic turn”
  • 3. De-logicization, praxis and discourse
  • a. From the logic of concepts to pragmatic logic
  • b. Praxis, normativity, meaning
  • c. Normativity and discourse
  • i) Habermas
  • ii) Foucault
  • d. De-logicized normativity and the hermeneutics of suspicion
  • 4. Interpretation, coherence, truth
  • a. Return to the theory of interpretation
  • b. The principle of charity
  • c. Charity vs. suspicion
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • Part II. Empirical Applications: Public Discourse Concerning the Presence of Religious Symbols in Public Spaces
  • Reporting Public Manifestations of Religious Beliefs: Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the British press: Ruth Breeze
  • Introduction
  • 1. Historical background
  • 1.1. Sikhs
  • 1.2. Muslims
  • 1.3. Christians
  • 1.4. Events in 2010
  • 2. Methodology
  • 2.1. Theoretical background
  • 2.2. Corpus of texts
  • 3. Frame analysis
  • 3.1. Framing Sikhs
  • 3.2. Framing Muslims
  • 3.3. Framing Christians
  • 4. Analysis of voice
  • 4.1. Voice for Sikhs
  • 4.2. Voice for Muslims
  • 4.3. Voice for Christians
  • 5. Emotive lexis
  • 5.1. Emotive lexis: Sikhs
  • 5.2. Emotive lexis: Muslims
  • 5.3. Emotive lexis: Christians
  • 6. Discussion
  • References
  • The Dialectic of Identity-Difference: Dolores Conesa
  • 1. An approach to the problem
  • 2. The problem of Hegel: an identity which imposes itself and dissolves difference
  • 3. Postmodernity. Derrida and the dissolution of identity in difference
  • 4. Levinas: An identity which constitutes itself assuming difference as difference. The ethical stamp
  • 5. Concluding remarks. The disjunction between truth and interest: practical truth
  • References
  • The Crucifix and the Court in Strasbourg: Press Reaction in Italy to a European Court Decision: Diego Contreras
  • 1. Introduction and theoretical context
  • 2. Precedents and the court sentences
  • 3. Description and journalistic analysis of the sample
  • 4. Discourse
  • a. The court sentence as speech act
  • First sentence
  • Final sentence
  • b. Typology of arguments
  • Legal argument
  • Historical-cultural argument
  • Religious argument
  • Arguing against the other side
  • c. “Them”: the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and Europe
  • d. A sentence against “us”
  • 5. Conclusions
  • a. The controversy is not the outcome of a social problem
  • b. Broadening the definition of positive secularity
  • c. Across-the-board unanimity
  • d. A cultural symbol and a religious symbol
  • References
  • Craving Face: the Debate over the Islamic Veil in Quebec as Reflected by the Discourse of the Three Major Political Parties: Patrick J. Duffley
  • References
  • Journal des débats de la Commission des institutions
  • Le mardi 18 mai 2010 – Vol. 41 Nº 69
  • Hansard of the Committee on Institutions
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2010 – Vol. 41 Nº 69
  • Public Discourse on the Internet: Interactive Control of the Integration Debate in German: Alberto Gil
  • Aspects of media rhetoric from a communications perspective
  • Rhetorics of emotion and visualization
  • Analysis of public discourse on the Internet
  • Results
  • References
  • The Debate about the Veil in the Spanish Press. Boosting Strategies and Interactional Metadiscourse in the Editorials of ABC and El País (2002–2010): Ramón González Ruiz & Dámaso Izquierdo Alegría
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Corpus description
  • 3. Argumentation in EP and ABC: propositions and justifications
  • 4. Theoretical framework
  • 4.1. The concept of metadiscourse
  • 4.2. Metadiscourse and boosters
  • 5. Results and discussion
  • 5.1. Overview and distribution
  • 5.2. Deontic scalarity
  • 5.2.1. Strong and weak deontic modality
  • 5.2.2. Negation of poder and adjectives with affixes in- and -ble
  • 6. Conclusions and further research
  • References
  • Who Tells the Story of “the War of Religious Symbols”?: An Analysis of Genette’s Categories of Voice and Point of View in ABC, El Mundo and El País Reports on the Withdrawal of the Crucifix and the Prohibition of the Veil in Spain: Sira Hernández Corchete & Beatriz Gómez Baceiredo
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Objectives, methodology and corpus
  • 3. Narratological analysis of voice
  • 3.1. The primary narrator: extra-heterodiegetic versus intra-homodiegetic narration
  • 3.2. Secondary narrators: “institutional” narrators versus “personal” narrators
  • 4. Narratological analysis of mode
  • 4.1. Narrative distance: transposed and narrativized discourse versus reported discourse
  • 4.2. Narrative perspective: external focalization versus zero focalization
  • 5. Conclusions
  • References
  • Vocabulary and Argumentation in the Spanish Press Discussion about Islamic Veil. Metaphorical Projections of Burqa: Carmen Llamas Saíz & Concepción Martínez Pasamar
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Burqa as a prototype
  • 3. Metaphorical projections of burqa
  • 4. Conclusions
  • References
  • Religious Symbols in Public Spaces: Ethical and Legal Arguments: Andrés Ollero
  • 1. From the principle of legality to the meaning of rules
  • 2. The legal meaning of religious symbols
  • 3. Neutrality: between whom?
  • 4. Positive secularity
  • 5. Reflections on the religious nature of symbols and public order
  • 6. The Islamic veil controversy
  • 7. Crucifixes in schools: justice or tolerance
  • 8. The contested meaning of symbols
  • References
  • Representation in the Spanish Press of the Political Debate about Wearing Full Islamic Veils in Public Spaces: Inés Olza
  • 1. Objectives
  • 2. Spanish debate about wearing full Islamic veils in public spaces
  • 3. Analysis of political discourse
  • 3.1. Objectives and methodology
  • 3.2. Analysis of political motions
  • 3.2.1. Lleida
  • 3.2.2. El Vendrell
  • 3.2.3. Senate
  • 3.3. Analysis of political motions: Some conclusions
  • 4. Representation in the press
  • 4.1. News coverage of motion 1 (Lleida)
  • 4.2. News coverage of motion 2 (El Vendrell)
  • 4.3. News coverage of motion 3 (Spanish Senate)
  • 4.4. General coverage of motions 1, 2 and 3
  • 5. Conclusions
  • References
  • Annexes
  • Annex 1
  • Political motion 1. Lleida Council (May 28, 2010)
  • Political motion 2. El Vendrell Council (June 11, 2010)
  • Political motion 3. Spanish Senate (June 23, 2010)
  • Moción
  • Motion
  • Annex 2
  • First news covering motion 1
  • First news covering motion 2
  • First news covering motion 3
  • General coverage of motions 1, 2 and 3
  • Notes on Contributors



In 2010 a project entitled “Public Discourse: Persuasive and Interpretative Strategies” started out at the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra (Spain). A new research group – GRADUN, originally made up of researchers in the University of Navarra, the University of Heidelberg (Germany), Laval University (Canada) and the Centre for Human and Social Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) – arose around this project. From its beginnings, GRADUN has been an interdisciplinary research group with Linguistics at its initial core, and integrating researchers from other disciplines such as Theory of Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology and Communication Sciences, as well as the intrinsically interdisciplinary field of Pragmatics. Understanding the complex issues and problems that concern our current society requires this cooperative approach to academic endeavour. Moreover, one of the main aims of GRADUN’s research is to analyse burning social issues, in order to reach a deeper understanding of controversial topics and propose solutions whenever possible. In fact, the label public discourse necessarily implies the involvement of several research areas working together on issues and debates with social impact.

The title of this book – Language Use in the Public Sphere: Methodological Perspectives and Empirical Applications, edited by GRADUN – points to two research avenues (the quest for interdisciplinary methodologies in discourse analysis and the application of these methodologies to case studies of social impact), which serve to articulate the volume in two different but complementary sections.

The first part (“Tradition and Innovation in the Methodology of Discourse Studies”) includes chapters (by Albaladejo; Loureda; Portolés & Yates; Verschueren and Vigo) that analyse and evaluate the results of using the main methodologies current in discourse studies (rhetoric, text linguistics, theory of argumentation, pragmatics). ← 9 | 10 →

In the chapter “Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis”, Tomás Albaladejo examines the role of rhetoric in discourse analysis and the tools rhetoric may contribute to the task and strategies of analysing discourses. In particular, polyacroasis – the plurality of listening and interpreting discourses – is presented as the basis for one of the links between rhetoric and discourse analysis. Several trends in the reconsideration of rhetoric for the purposes of discourse analysis are discussed, with a specific focus on the following: new perspectives on elocutio; the relationship between rhetoric and translation studies; and the proposal of a rhetoric of culture.

In “New Perspectives in Text Analysis: Introducing an Integrated Model of Text Linguistics”, Óscar Loureda provides an overview of current research in text analysis and (in line with GRADUN’s objectives) proposes a comprehensive model of text linguistics that is both integral and homogenous.

In the chapter “The Theory of Argumentation within Language and its Application to Discourse Analysis”, José Portolés and Jean Yates focus on how, according to the Theory of Argumentation Within Language (TAL), the meaning of words conditions the dynamics of discourse. Their study provides several examples of the explicative ability of TAL within discourse studies and presents a final case study that examines – from the TAL perspective – persuasive linguistic arguments that support certain proposals made by the defenders of “person first” language.

Jef Verschueren aims to explore in his chapter (“The Pragmatics of Discourse in the Public Sphere”) the contribution of pragmatics to the study of meaning generation in discourse in the public sphere. This exploration is grounded on several pragmatic principles, namely the lack of strict form-function relationships that can be applied mechanically to interpret discourse; the intimate connection between structure and context; and the important role of reflexivity or metapragmatic awareness in all forms of language use.

Lastly, Alejandro G. Vigo (“Discourse, Coherence, Truth”) analyses the change in paradigm that 20th century philosophical reflection has undergone, which can be characterized by reference to what have been called two successive “turns”: first, the “linguistic turn” and, later, the “pragmatic-hermeneutic turn”. By attending to these “turns”, one can better explain the manner in which the notion of ← 10 | 11 → discourse enters contemporary philosophical reflection and the decisive protagonism that it acquires.

The first part of this volume includes other chapters (Casado-Velarde; Flamarique; Harslem & Berty; López Pan) of theoretical nature, which approach different conditions of production of discourse (Casado; López Pan) and relevant mechanisms in the construction of discursive meaning (Flamarique; Harslem & Berty).

In “Trust and Suspicion as Principles of Discourse Analysis”, Manuel Casado-Velarde discusses influential perspectives on language and discourse in the modern era (in Nietzsche, analytic philosophy, Wittgenstein, Ogden and Richards, etc.) focusing on the underlying epistemological attitude of suspicion. Coseriu’s critique of the polar-opposite attitudes of overconfidence (logicism) and excessive suspicion (antilogicism) with respect to language is analysed. The conclusion comprises an overview of various contemporary formulations of a general principle of trust, referred to variously by renowned scholars as the cooperative principle (Grice), the principle of trust (Coseriu), and the principle of relevance (Sperber and Wilson).

Lourdes Flamarique, in “Metaphor and Argumentative Logic – a Crossroads between Philosophy and the Language Sciences”, examines, among other aspects, the turn towards metaphor in contemporary philosophy, which may be explained in part by reference to the crisis in philosophical thinking and the assertion that metaphysics has been superseded. From this perspective, metaphor is now studied from a subjective perspective, which may be less predictable than the objective-literal meaning that mirrors a preexisting similarity

In “A ver, what do we have here? – Bueno, it’s no piece of cake. The Challenge of Translating Conversational Discourse Markers”, Frank J. Harslem and Katrin Berty reflect on translation processes, which – as initial premise – can be regarded as a specific type of discourse or text analysis that relies partly on information provided by mono- and bilingual dictionaries. In this context the translator is confronted with particles that not only guide every natural discourse or text but are also highly specific in each language and culture, as is the case with conversational discourse markers. In order to illustrate the difficulty of translating this kind of marker, Harslem and Berty analyse their occurrence in original texts and their respective translations, and compare the translator’s solutions with the lexicographical entries. ← 11 | 12 →

In “The Epideictic Nature of Prestige Newspapers”, Fernando López Pan explores the link between prestige newspapers and the classical rhetorical category of epideixis, and shows how the epideictic dimension is a basic one in such newspapers. More specifically, this study describes the epideictic nature of argumentation used in the newspaper as a whole, highlighting the conceptualization of the structure of argumentation throughout the newspaper.

As we pointed out before, GRADUN also aims to analyse relevant problems and issues debated in the public sphere. The second part of the book (“Empirical Applications: Public Discourse over the Presence of Religious Symbols in Public Spaces”) thus brings together a series of chapters that address the debate on the presence of religious symbols in public spaces, which flared up with particular intensity – especially across Europe – between 2009 and 2010. These chapters focus on the debate that took place in several countries (Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom) and exemplify how it may be fruitfully analysed from different methodological perspectives (Linguistics, Argumentation Studies, Communication Studies, Ethics, Law and Philosophy).

In the chapter “Reporting Public Manifestations of Religious Beliefs: Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the British Press”, Ruth Breeze examines British newspaper reporting on the wearing of specific items of dress or accessories which appear to come into conflict with safety regulations or social expectations. Breeze conducts an in-depth analysis of one hundred British news and opinion articles about the wearing of symbolic items by members of three different religions (Sikhs, Muslims and Christians). The study adopts a multidimensional approach that examines issue framing, explicit evaluation of the main actors in the reported situations, and lexical items and metaphors in the text associated with the different parties and with the banning of religious symbols.

The aim of the study “The Debate about the Veil in the Spanish Press: Boosting Strategies and Interactional Metadiscourse in the Editorials of ABC and El País (2002–2010)”, by Ramón González Ruiz and Dámaso Izquierdo Alegría, is to reveal the main discursive strategies shaping Spanish newspaper ideologies in relation to the debate on the Islamic veil (2002–2010). To this end, editorials published by two major national newspapers in Spain that reflect clashing ideologies – ← 12 | 13 → ABC (right-wing) and El País (left-wing) – are analysed in linguistic and rhetorical terms, focusing more specifically on the most frequent boosting strategies observed on them.

In “Craving Face: the Debate over the Islamic Veil in Quebec as Reflected by the Discourse of the Three Major Political Parties”, Patrick J. Duffley proposes a critical discourse analysis of the introductory remarks of the representatives of the three major Quebec political parties in the public hearings on Bill 94, a law banning face coverings in public transactions. Besides exploring by means of textual clues why the attitude in Quebec towards the presence of overt religious symbols in the public sphere differs from the rest of Canada, the study opens up a perspective for future research into the application of the idealized cognitive model of “separation” to the relationship between the religious and public/political spheres in the public debate over this question.

Alberto Gil, author of the chapter “Public Discourse on the Internet: Interactive Control of the Integration Debate in German”, describes a mode of textual analysis in which media rhetoric – particularly, public rhetoric on the Internet (web 2.0) – on German integration debates is addressed in relation to the rhetorical parameters of emotion and visualization. In this regard, the main features of new forms of communication are presented in terms of the critical-hermeneutic awareness of the new readers/writers, argumentative emotionality, the use of images, and the creation of textual dramaturgy.

“Who Tells The Story of ‘the War of Religious Symbols’? An Analysis of Genette’s Categories of Voice and Point of View in ABC, El Mundo and El País Reports on the Withdrawal of the Crucifix and the Prohibition of the Veil in Spain”, by Sira Hernández Corchete and Beatriz Gómez Baceiredo, returns again, from a different perspective, to the recent Spanish debate about the removal of crucifixes and the prohibition of the veil, which were framed as a “war of religious symbols”. Using Genette’s categories of voice and point of view, this chapter undertakes a comparative analysis of the figure of the narrator in news reports published in the Spanish newspapers ABC, El Mundo and El País, trying to identify who is telling the story of “the war of religious symbols”, what kind of links this voice has with the story that is reported, and what perspective or narrative point of view is adopted. ← 13 | 14 →

In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the display of the crucifix in public schools in Italy amounted to a “limitation on freedom of religion” and a “violation of parents’ rights to educate children in accordance with their beliefs”. The court decision sparked a significant, generally negative, response in Italian public opinion. In conjunction with a number of other institutions, the Italian government appealed against the decision; and in a new ruling issued in 2011 a plenary sitting of the court overturned the previous sentence. Diego Contreras, in “The Crucifix and the Court in Strasbourg: Press Reaction in Italy to a European Court Decision”, explores how the Italian press addressed the controversy, as well as the main arguments in favour of and against the public display of the crucifix advanced in the context of this debate.

The chapter “Vocabulary and Argumentation in the Spanish Press’s Discussion of the Islamic Veil. Metaphorical Projections of Burqa”, by Carmen Llamas Saíz and Concepción Martínez Pasamar, deals with the use of the word burqa in the Spanish press debate about the proposed ban on the full Islamic veil, announced by some local councils in May and June 2010. Taking a corpus of 150 press texts into consideration, the authors show, in the first place, that burqa seems to be used as a category prototype in a way that does not mirror the world exactly; and, secondly, that it is used as source domain of evaluative metaphors also found in other languages within the same cultural/ideological community.

The purpose of “Representation in the Spanish Press of the Political Debate about Wearing Full Islamic Veils in Public Spaces”, by Inés Olza, is to explore the interplay between media and political communication in the coverage given by the main Spanish newspapers to the approval of three controversial political motions enacting a ban on the wearing of full veils (burkas and niqabs) in public spaces. The principal argumentative strategies and ideological implications underlying these motions are examined, and their reflection – or manipulation – in selected news texts explored. The analysis shows that such news coverage highlights certain argumentative implications that were deliberately masked in the political motions; and that, as may be expected, the representation of political discourse(s) also depends on the ideological orientation of each newspaper. ← 14 | 15 →

The second part of the volume is completed with two chapters (by Conesa and Ollero) that reflect – from a broader perspective – on the ethical, philosophical and juridical principles and values involved in the debate on the presence of religious symbols in public spaces. Moreover, these chapters highlight the need for an interdisciplinary approach to controversial issues in the public sphere.

In “The Dialectic of Identity-Difference”, Dolores Conesa shows that the dialectic of identity and difference cannot be resolved via the radicalization of one of its poles without falling into an absolute totalitarianism when all difference is sacrificed in favour of identity (Hegel) and, conversely, without falling into a radical nihilism when all identity is sacrificed in favour of difference (Derrida). The balanced posture of Levinas is committed, according to Conesa, to an integration of both, because the subject recognizes that there is a reality beyond itself, a reality which questions it in the depth of its being and, hence, difference forms a constitutive part of identity itself, because the subject is a being who has to respond. In this way, the ethical dimension of the person is made patent in all its force.

Andrés Ollero draws attention in “Religious Symbols in Public Spaces: Ethical and Legal Arguments” to how the neutrality of the public space as such is generally asserted without first determining if this is to be achieved by agreement among the plurality of believers or between believers and non-believers. A further problem in this regard is to establish whether or not a given symbol is religious, and when it may become an object of law on juridical grounds. Finally, given that the true meaning of a symbol may be called into question, an authoritative definition of such meaning may also be required.

As this summary shows, the book comprises a range of general discussions on tradition and innovation in the methodology used in discourse studies, and a number of empirical applications of such methodologies in the analysis of actual instances of language use in the public sphere. We hope that the reader will find them interesting, useful and inspiring.

As editors of this book, we would like to express our gratitude towards several people and institutions that helped us during its preparation process. First of all, we would like to thank Prof. Maurizio Gotti, director of the Linguistics Insights series, for welcoming our proposal and supporting its publication. We must also thank the members ← 15 | 16 → of GRADUN, as well as all the contributors to this book, for generously promoting this debate about language use in the public sphere. Finally, our deepest gratitude goes also to Leyre Bilbao Luri, for her capable and rigorous work on the formal layout of the manuscript.

The publication of this book has been funded by the research projects “Public Discourse: Persuasive and Interpretative Strategies” (Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra) and “Methodology of Discourse Analysis: Towards an Integrated Text Linguistics” (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; ref. FFI2010–20416). ← 16 | 17 →

Part I

Tradition and Innovation in the Methodology of Discourse Studies

← 17 | 18 → ← 18 | 19 →


Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis*

This chapter explores the role of rhetoric in discourse analysis and the features and tools rhetoric may contribute to the task and strategies of analyzing discourses. First, an overview of the different definitions and roles of rhetoric are offered; the interpretative, analytical and productive roles of rhetoric are taken into account; and discourse is presented as a twofold phenomenon – as a linguistic construction and as a comprehensive space which encompasses the orator and hearer in line with a reading of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1358a38–1358b2. Polyacroasis, the plurality of listening and interpreting discourses, is presented as the basis of one of the links between rhetoric and discourse analysis. A number of trends in the reconsideration of rhetoric for the purposes of discourse analysis are discussed, with a particular focus on the following: new perspectives on elocutio, and new ways of dealing with elocutio and related issues (the constitution and role of certain figures, for instance, and cognitive theory of metaphor); the relationship between rhetoric and translation studies; and the proposal of a rhetoric of culture.

Keywords: Rhetoric; Discourse; Production; Analysis; Polyacroasis.

1.There is rhetoric in all discourses

On 25 March, 2009, the Spanish newspaper El País published, a chronicle by Miguel Mora, correspondent in Rome, which began as follows:

Habla claro y sin retórica. Comienza a soltar verdades entre sonrisas, con la voz suave y el índice levantado. Enseguida, en la platea se deshacen los corrillos y surge el entusiasmo. Su cara redonda de niña, coleta y flequillo, engaña. Tiene 38 años, es abogada, se llama Debora Serracchiani y es secretaria del Partido Demócrata (PD) en Udine (noreste de Italia). Y en ← 19 | 20 → apenas dos días se ha convertido en la nueva esperanza de una oposición que busca desesperadamente una voz nueva y unitaria (Mora 2009).

When the writer tells us that Debora Serracchiani speaks without rhetoric, he means that she speaks without using rhetorical devices: we should understand that he is trying to tell that she speaks without the rhetoric usual among Italian politicians. Because Debora Serracchiani speaks with rhetoric, as we all do, since it is not possible to speak without rhetoric, as rhetoric is inherent to all human communication. Every discourse1 has rhetoric, and there are different ways of using rhetoric, as well as different kinds of rhetorical discourses and even uses of rhetoric, which have been current from ancient times up to our own day. We live with rhetoric, even though we are not usually aware of it, because all our speeches and other linguistic expressions contain a rhetorical component within a communicative and semiotic dimension. Let us examine an example of the unconscious use of a communicative device or way of speaking, from Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme, where Monsieur Jourdain learns from his master of philosophy that there are two means of expression, prose and verse, and that he does not use verse because he is using prose, even though he is not aware of doing so2. ← 20 | 21 →

In the words of José Luis Martínez-Dueñas, in his dialogue about rhetoric El verbo con sentido:

H[ermia]: Pero la retórica es algo antiguo. Yo siempre he leído de la retórica en las traducciones de griego, y en la literatura latina; además, siempre que mencionan la retórica es para decir algo peyorativo: “Sus palabras eran sólo retórica”, “Respondió con mera retórica”. Siempre se usa como algo del pasado y tú me dices que tu respuesta depende de la retórica. ¿Quieres decir que es huera? ¿Que no tiene sentido?
L[eoncio]: Nada más lejos de mi intención: todo lo contario. Lo que ocurre es que la retórica es tan antigua, se halla tan implantada en nuestra lengua, en nuestra competencia lingüística y comunicativa, que no se la reconoce; y sin embargo se le atribuyen desmanes y errores que no son en absoluto de su responsabilidad. Se suele decir hoy día, como algo común, que algo es retórico cuando su sentido es inoperante, o cuando hay ornato excesivo, o cuando se insufla mera palabrería, cohetería verbal, pirotecnia ‘palabresca’. […] (Martínez-Dueñas 2003: 9–10).

Leoncio’s answer in the passage of the dialogue quoted clarifies the hidden or underlying nature of rhetoric in language and its relationship to the mistaken conception of rhetoric as a hollow and overblown way of speaking.

There are no discourses without rhetoric, but rhetoric adopts different forms in accordance with the kinds, features and character ← 21 | 22 → isidiosyncracies of discourses. The speaker or producer of discourse is “homo rhetoricus” (Garrido Gallardo 1994). We can find rhetorical structures and components in speeches, which can be considered to be the canonical linguistic expressions of rhetoric, but also in literary works, in everyday communication, in digital communication, even in slogans, one of the shortest rhetorical expressions, characterised by the semantic and pragmatic intensity of their construction and communication and by their brevity and incisive nature – as we know, the English word “slogan” comes from Scottish Gaelic “sluagh-ghairm”, which means ‘war cry’. Both canonical rhetorical expressions and non-canonical ones share rhetoricalness (Albaladejo 2005a; López Eire 2006), because of the rhetorical nature of language (López Eire 2006) and the rhetorical pregnancy of language (Ramírez Vidal 2004), which provide the basis for the rhetoric of linguistic expressions.

2.Rhetoric: a field in continuous expansion

There are different definitions of rhetoric. They represent different views of persuasive communication and the techniques that can be used. Aristotle defines rhetoric as follows:

Rhetoric then may be defined as the faculty of discovering the possible means of persuasion in reference to any subject whatever. This is the function of no other of the arts, each of which is able to instruct and persuade in its own special subject; thus, medicine deals with health and sickness, geometry with the properties of magnitudes, arithmetic with number, and similarly with all the other arts and sciences. But Rhetoric, so to say, appears to be able to discover the means of persuasion in reference to any given subject. That is why we say that as an art its rules are not applied to any particular definite class of things (Aristotle 1982: 1355b25–34).

Quintilian gives the following definition: “Rhetorice ars est bene dicendi” (‘rhetoric is the art of speaking well’) (Quintilian 2001: 2, 17, 38) in opposition to grammar, which is defined by him as “recte loquendi scientia” (‘the study of correct speech’) (Quintilian 2001: 1, 4, ← 22 | 23 → 2). We can find other definitions of rhetoric, such as the following: rhetoric is the art of persuasion (Kennedy 1963; Cockcroft & Cockcroft 2005; Spang 2005), rhetoric is the technique of producing public speeches, rhetoric is the systematisation of common sense concerning communication, and so on. Let us read the following explanation of rhetoric given by George A. Kennedy:

Rhētorikē in Greek specifically denotes the civic art of public speaking as it is developed in deliberative assemblies, law courts, and other formal occasions under constitutional government in the Greek cities, especially the Athenian democracy. As such, it is a specific cultural subset of a more general concept of the power of words and their potential to affect a situation in which they are used or received (Kennedy 1994: 3).

Kennedy’s use of the expression “metarhetoric” is significant, in that it names the theory of producing and communicating discourses and distinguishes it from its concrete practice: “In recent years, the term ‘metarhetoric’ has been coined to describe a theory or art of rhetoric in contrast to the practice or application of the art in a particular discourse” (Kennedy 1994: 3). Although the Latin term “oratoria” is the translation of the Greek term “rhetoriké”, we can use “oratory” (from Latin “oratoria”) in a concrete sense to refer to the practical use of system and rules of rhetoric for the production and communication of concrete speeches and to of the entirety of the rhetorical discourses managed by an orator.

Nonetheless, in addition to these definitions, I would like to stress the definition of rhetoric provided by James J. Murphy at the beginning of his essay on the origins and early steps of rhetoric, because of its explicit relationship with the analysis of discourses:

Rhetoric, the systematic analysis of human discourse for the purpose of adducing useful precepts for future discourse, is one of the oldest disciplines in the Western world. Long before 700 B.C., the Greeks learned to arrange speeches in ways that they were calculated to achieve a desired effect (Murphy 1983: 3. Italics are mine).

Murphy’s definition places rhetoric in the area of analysis for learning and using the learnt issues. His definition, which maintains the link ← 23 | 24 → with discourse production and connects it with analysis, is highly pertinent to our aim of connecting rhetoric and discourse analysis.

On this basis, we can see that rhetoric has two dimensions: that of the technique for producing and delivering discourses, and that of the analysis of discourses. These dimensions are connected, because it is not possible to analyse discourses if these have not been produced, but it is not possible to produce discourses if the producer (the orator) lacks the technique which has been obtained from the analysis of previously delivered discourses, and from the consciousness of language, speech and communication which is peculiar to human beings.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (July)
Discourse studies Public sphere Language Religious symbol
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 564 pp., 30 ill.

Biographical notes

Inés Olza Moreno (Volume editor) Óscar Loureda Lamas (Volume editor) Manuel Casado (Volume editor)

Manuel Casado is Chair Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Navarra (Spain), where he directs the interdisciplinary Research Project «Public Discourse: Persuasive and Interpretative Strategies» at the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) and the Navarra Research Group on Discourse Analysis (GRADUN). He is a Corresponding Member of the Royal Spanish Academy. His research currently focuses on Text Linguistics and Discourse Analysis. Óscar Loureda is Chair Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), and since 2011 he has been the director of the University’s Iberoamerika-Zentrum. He is also a member of the Research Group «Discourse Particles and Cognition» in the Heidelberg University Language and Cognition Lab (HULC LAB). His research interests center on Semantics and Lexicography of Spanish, and on general theory of discourse (Text Linguistics, Text Grammar, Discourse Analysis). Inés Olza is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with GRADUN (Discourse Analysis Group, University of Navarra) in ICS (Institute for Culture and Society). She also works as a Lecturer in General and Spanish Linguistics at the Spanish National University for Distance Education (UNED, associated center in Pamplona). Her research focuses on the semantic-pragmatic analysis of phraseology and metalanguage (of Spanish and other languages), on multimodality, and on the argumentative use of figurative language in public discourse.


Title: Language Use in the Public Sphere
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