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Warrior Talk

A study of war, peace and politics

Sally Watson

«Warrior talk is defined as language, terms and metaphors associated with war and violence used in political discourses or appropriated into everyday settings to influence people and situations.»

Warrior Talk is part of the human experience in conflict situations at global, national and organizational levels and while the scale of conflict may vary, the language of war is a potent dynamic and key inhibitor of sustainable peace. A case study of the Northern Ireland peace process has been used as a background for research into Sinn Féin political discourses in the period 1969-2019. The findings indicate that republican warrior talk has evolved over five decades but continues to play a role in Sinn Féin politics. The implications of this research are applicable to other forms of conflict and particularly whether there has been protracted or intermittent episodes of violence.

This book will appeal to a varied audience: students, researchers and readers interested in peace building whether international or local. The style of the book will demystify the field of political discourse analysis and provide tools and resources to enrich the reader’s experience.

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Chapter 8 Warrior talk and peace


Language is both a site and a stake in the class struggle – those who exercise power through language must be constantly involved in a struggle with others to defend it.1

The purpose of this book has been to raise awareness of the potency of warrior talk and the forms it takes in political discourses. Warrior talk is not necessarily a product of war: the insights from the study of political discourses demonstrate that combative language is used as a communication tool in a broad spectrum of conflict situations from international and national conflicts to power struggles in organizations and groups. Conflict in any form requires a psychological investment in shaping each party’s assumptions of the other, and the manifestation of this process can be observed in the language used to account for the dynamics of the situation.

Warrior talk appears to have a role in reducing a conflict situation to extreme positions and facilitating a transition to direct violence, or indeed to indirect violence and coercion.2 The discourse findings from each chapter revealed a number of forms of warrior talk embedded in Sinn Féin’s political discourses and which emerged in response to changing circumstances. Over the time period covered in the research study, 1969–2019, warrior talk evolved to serve multiple purposes which largely included the political strategies of Sinn Féin, their relationship with external stakeholders and the republican movement.

The Northern Ireland peace process was selected as a background to this...

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