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Language Use in the Public Sphere

Methodological Perspectives and Empirical Applications


Edited By Inés Olza Moreno, Óscar Loureda Lamas and Manuel Casado

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.
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The Theory of Argumentation within Language and its Application to Discourse Analysis: José Portolés & Jean Yates



The Theory of Argumentation within Language and its Application to Discourse Analysis

The Theory of Argumentation Within Language (TAL) is a semantic theory that was initiated during the mid-1970s by Oswald Ducrot, Jean-Claude Anscombre, and their followers – for the most part Romance Language scholars. Among other topics, this theory considers how the meaning of words conditions the dynamics of discourse, and, as will be shown in this article using linguistic criteria, also enables the demonstration of how some connotations of a text are produced. To achieve this, the TAL has developed easily comprehensible theoretical devices – such as that of argumentative orientation – and equally simple proofs – the use of but, for example – that demonstrate the importance of lexical selection in communication. They show, in other words, how a single fact can be understood in different ways according to the linguistic formulation chosen to communicate it. This article will provide numerous examples of this explicative ability of the TAL and will conclude with persuasive linguistic arguments that support certain proposals made by the defenders of “person first” language – often orthophemisms – as compared to the dysphemisms they are meant to replace.

Keywords: The Theory of Argumentation Within Language; Connotation; Argumentative orientation: Politically correct language; Orthophemism.

1.Argumentation within language1

Proper names of places, or toponyms, are rigid designators – they refer rather than denote. However, as we all know, they also have the ability to connote. Consider the case...

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