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Information and Persuasion

Studies in Linguistics, Literature, Culture, and Discourse Analysis

Edited By Maria-Ionela Neagu and Domnita Tomescu

This transdisciplinary study gathers research papers that reveal the multifarious facets of the concept of «persuasion». It is argued that regardless of its degree of intentionality, the act of persuasion underlying each information item prompts the interlocutors to cross the borders of political, historical, linguistic, narrative, psychotherapeutic, and even marketing configurations. The contributors’ contention is that political thinking and ideology-grounded linguistic patterns act as a form of social control, both informing and shaping the sense of identity of the manipulated masses and of the oppressed.

«Taking a sociolinguistic turn, this volume of interesting scholarly works addresses matters of ideological loadings in a variety of genres, contributing to the development of new research paradigms.» – Bledar Toska, University of Vlora «Ismail Qemali»

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Introduction: Persuasion Matters (Maria-Ionela Neagu / Sky Marsen)

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Maria-Ionela Neagu Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti

Sky MarsenFlinders University

Introduction: Persuasion Matters

What does it mean to be persuasive and in what ways is persuasion linked to information? Are we persuasive only when we communicate “information”, and does being informative entail being persuasive? These seemingly innocuous questions have actually occupied much of philosophy since antiquity and have been considered from different disciplinary perspectives, including linguistics, literary theory and psychology. Rhetoric has convincingly shown, over millennia, that persuasion depends on the rhetorical context: it depends on the relationship between interlocutors, which includes matters of status, educational background and attitude, as well as on the purpose of the communication. One can persuade only if one makes use of signs that are in some way meaningful to the audience and can trigger an emotional and cognitive response. The information value of the utterance per se, detached from audience features, is insufficient for persuasive impact.

In addition to the rhetorical context, persuasion is affected by genre and mode. Particular genres carry expectations of content and mode. Annual reports of companies, for example, present information on the company’s performance during the year, but they are also promotional texts that emphasize achievements and downplay failures. Therefore, the persuasive aspect of the annual report is formed not only through its informational content but also through its promotional mode.

Language theorists on the whole agree that information communicated outside a specific context is meaningless....

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