January 2006. Volume 2
A Critical Discourse Analysis of Euphemization and Derogation in E-mails on the Late Pope
Ali Rahimi and Rahman Sahragard
Kashan University, Iran
Shiraz University, Iran
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has become a very influential academic research activity across subjects in social, political, educational, and linguistic sciences. It scrutinizes the power relations, ideological manipulations, and hegemony. This paper is an attempt to explain how a single reality, that is the death of the Pope, John Paul II, is presented and viewed entirely differently by different people having a range of religious and political perspectives reflected in their emails. In this study, van Dijk’s (2004) framework adopted from ”Politics, Ideology and Discourse” is used to detect discursive structures which lead to ideologically based parochial, prejudiced as well as antireligious statements. The CDA of the e-mails written about the Pope has underscored the fact that ideological manipulations are expressed, enacted, sustained and, at times, inculcated through discursive structures. The macro strategies of ‘positive self-representation’ and ‘negative other- representation’ (which are intimately tied up with ‘Polarization’ of in group vs. out group ideologies or US-THEM) have turned out to be very accurate criteria for the evaluation of attitudes, and opinions. Euphemization and Derogation have proved to be rife in the ideological manipulations of the texts leading to the intended positive self-representation and negative other-representation. These are discursive structures applied to enhance, mitigate, avoid or exacerbate an issue. They illustrate the ideological functions of positive self-representation or negative other-representation. These in-group/out-group differentiations are manifested in the CDA applied on the attitudes towards Popes’ death in this article. The findings of this study can be conducive to expanding students’ critical thinking abilities in comprehension and production of language and also in revitalizing the neglected construct of language proficiency.
Key words: Critical Discourse Analysis, Ideology, Euphemization, Derogation Discursive structures, Presupposition, Polarization (In- group vs. Out-group), Negative other- representation vs. Positive self- representation
Critical discourse analysis shares a lot of common grounds with critical approaches in their endeavours for people’s awareness and ultimate emancipation. According to Widdowson (2000), CDA is the uncovering of implicit ideologies in texts. It unveils the underlying ideological prejudices and therefore the exercise of power in texts. To illuminate the techniques and processes employed, it must be asserted that power relationships, ideologies and identities are created and naturalized by the manipulative styles of language. It is incumbent on the students and academics alike to be able to decrypt and comprehend the basic intentions of the authors and speakers. They must be equipped with some devices to detect manipulative and ideologically biased language.
One of the very prevalent and effective techniques in naturalization of ideologies is the dichotomous categorization of ‘euphemistic’ and ‘derogatory’ terms which belongs to the semantic component of any language (Hodge and Kress, 1993). Hornby (2004, pp.339-428) defines derogatory as “showing a critical attitude towards others, or insulting” and euphemism as “an indirect word or phrase that people often use to refer to something embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable than what it really is”.
Sensitivity and attention to this dichotomy can lead to an awareness of the negative and positive implications of the words. These shades of meaning are utilized by writers and speakers to change realities and events as well as create different feelings and reactions within the audience. Through this mechanism, the very same event or phenomenon can be presented entirely differently by people belonging to different parties and mental models (van Dijk, 2004). It should be pointed out, however, that this dichotomy is manifested in different disciplines such as, politics, religion, law, education, etc.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Effective discriminative reading and writing are of paramount importance in the modern era due to the prevalence of media and enormous exposure to information. Very ironically, though, students and even some academics have turned a blind eye to the nuances and intricacies of discourse production and comprehension. Hence, the individuals or institutions which have this knowledge at their disposal are able to control and subjugate the people with impunity (Foucault, 1975); they wield a very powerful tool; that is language, to materialize their wishes and aspirations. Furthermore, van Dijk (2000) states that the semantic component of any language is used extensively and effectively for these purposes. A part of this component is the negative (derogatory) and positive (euphemistic) applications of words. Despite the prominence of these semantic aspects, little attention has been given to them. Students are mostly heedless to and unenlightened about the implications of these shades of meanings while they are producing discourse or during the time they are exposed to it. They need to get familiarized with the enormous change that each individual word can bring about. The apparently innocuously interchangeable vocabularies turn out to be hugely different under the scrutiny of CDA and specifically its semantic manifestation of derogation and euphemisation processes. Misunderstanding, bias, servitude, disgust and a myriad of other feelings and events are, no doubt, the repercussions of unfamiliarity with this topic which is colossally inspiring and instructive. It can enhance students’ creativity and critical thinking which have fallen into oblivion or disuse owing to the lack of research in this field. This is a step away from the current practice of mostly focusing on memorization and superficial comprehension and production of texts. The dearth of attention given to the high levels of intellectual and linguistic development has created an ‘academic lacuna’ which must be accounted for without delay. It should be pointed out that there has been little research on the effectiveness of euphemisation and derogation in ideological argumentations. Also notwithstanding the prevalence of this dichotomy in language use and usage in all cultures, very few researches have been carried out on the concept.
2. Literature Review
2.1 Critical Discourse Analysis; Some Theoretical Background
The principal aim of CDA is to uncover the opacities in discourse which contribute to the exercise, maintenance or reproduction of unequal relations of power (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997, p. 258). In other words, the ambiguous and hazy statements are clarified to expose their potentially effective role in the imbalanced power structures of the society. The latent ideologies under the cover of apparently harmless and neutral discourse undergo a dissection or post-mortem procedure called CDA to expose the toxic, debilitating agents.
Despite common grounds underlying all types of studies carried out according to CDA approach; there is a big diversity in both more general objectives of CDA frameworks and their more specific aims. Furthermore, various types of texts call for different analytical frameworks. van Dijk, one of the key figures in the field of CDA, worked initially in the field of discourse analysis and discourse pragmatics, (van Dijk, 1998) and after sometime he turned to the field of CDA. van Dijk (2001) pinpoints that CDA intends to focus on the ways social dominance is secured, sustained and /or reproduced through the manipulation and construction of particular discourse structures. van Dijk (2002) adds that finding the relationship between discourse and knowledge is another important issue that CDA is interested in; and since discourse and knowledge are both complex phenomena, they demand thorough analyses from different perspectives, including a linguistic one.
van Dijk (1998) holds that texts are not used just to inform us of some reality. They, additionally, based on the ideological standpoints of the person, organization, etc. involved in their production, construct the reality. One of the main tenets of CDA, then, is to reveal the sources of dominance and inequality observed in the society by analyzing texts (written or spoken). It is to find the discursive strategies utilized to construct or maintain such inequality or bias in different contexts. A text, according to van Dijk (1997, p.9) ” is merely the tip of the iceberg” and it’s the responsibility of the discourse analyst to uncover the hidden meaning of the text. The basic conceptual and theoretical concepts worked out and used by van Dijk (2000) in his CDA studies are as follows: Macro v. Micro; power as control; access and discourse control; context control; the control of text and talk and mind control. The micro level comprises language, discourse, verbal interaction and so on, while macro level has to do with power relation, such as inequality and dominance. And CDA plans to wed these two levels, since in actual interaction one can not separate them from each other; social power, in this approach, is viewed as a means of controlling the mind and actions of other group(s). The social power by itself may not be negative, but what in fact is of significance to CDA is the inappropriate use of power, which would bring about inequality in the society. van Dijk (2002) takes ideology as the attitude a group of people hold about certain issues; hence the analysis of ideology is one of the main concerns of discourse analysis. In order to uncover ideology generated in discourse, van Dijk resorts to social analysis, cognitive analysis and discourse analysis of the text. van Dijk’s (2004) framework consists of two main discursive strategies of ‘positive self-representation’ ( semantic macro-strategy of in-group favouritism) and ‘negative other-representation’ (semantic Macro-strategy of derogation of out-group) ”which are materialized through some other discursive moves such as ‘actor description’, ‘authority’, ‘burden’ (‘Topos’), ‘categorization’, ‘comparison, ‘consensus’, ‘counterfactuals’, ‘disclaimer’, ‘euphemism’, ‘evidentiality’, ‘example’/’illustration’, ‘generalization’, ‘hyperbole’, ‘implication’, ‘irony’, ‘lexicalization’, ‘metaphor’, ‘self-glorification’, ‘norm expression’, ‘number game’, ‘polarization’, ‘Us-Them’, ‘populism’, ‘presupposition’, ‘vagueness’, ‘victimization .
It should be kept in mind that there in no single monolithic approach to CDA; rather there are a number of other frameworks worthy of consideration and elaboration. However, due to space limitations, a very brief description of the main approaches is provided: Hodge and Kress (1993) consider language as an entity containing certain categories and processes. There are certain models, constituting the categories, used to manifest the relationship existing between texts and events. These models construct fundamental schemata which are crucial in classifying the world entities. They introduce the ‘syntagmatic’ models which comprise ‘actionals and relational’ models.
The other important framework is van Leeuwen’s (1999) conceptual framework. This framework centres on representing social actors. The framework, utilizing a socio-semantic inventory, in a systematic way, displays the ways social actors are represented in the text. It shows the effectiveness of language in representing and even constructing social actors. This theory of representation is also critical in identifying the condition and time when social actors are fore-grounded or are sent to the background, and the reason for which they are fore-grounded or sent into background. Halliday’s Systemic Functional grammar (1989) has been adopted to identify processes related to social actors. It takes a functional approach toward language and focuses on the interplay between language and its social context. Based on this view, language is used by its speakers/writers to meet their needs and as Halliday (1989), maintains there is a close link between the social and personal needs that language is required to serve and the special form taken by grammatical system of language. Viewing language from the functional perspective, Halliday (1989) adopts ‘systemic theory’ to analyze texts.
Fowler (1996) also focuses on the existence of a mutual relationship between forms and functions of language, satisfying each other’s needs, using the following terms: “Functional linguistics is functional in two senses: it is based on the premise that the form of language responds to the functions of language use: and it assumes that linguistics, as well as language has different functions so the forms of linguistics respond to the functions of linguistics” (p.3).
Also Fairclough (1995) refers to discourse as ”the use of language seen as a form of social practice” and to discourse analysis as the ”analysis of how texts work within sociocultural practice” (p. 210). In particular, he considers language as ‘social practice’ and not as asocial phenomenon, acting as both the product of communication and the process (the medium) through which communication takes place. According to Fairclough (1989), we have to analyze ”the relationship between texts, processes and their social condition” (p. 26). That is to say, the analysis has moved away from focusing on ‘whatness’ of the text (description) towards concentrating on the ‘howness’ and ‘whyness’ of the text (interpretation and explanation, respectively). CDA, according to Fairclough (1989), is to display why the speaker/writer, among the array of language structures and modes, selects just certain forms or modes.
2.4. Derogatory and Euphemistic terms
The mechanism of ideological manipulation is materialized through different techniques one of which is the dual classification of derogatory and euphemistic terms. Hornby (2004, pp.339-428) defines ‘derogatory’ as “showing a critical attitude towards others, or insulting” and ‘euphemism’ as “an indirect word or phrase that people often use to refer to something embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable than what it really is”. Euphemisms are words and expressions used to soften or mitigate the reality of the ideas transmitted to an audience. They are an indispensable and universal feature of language use and usage; people from different cultures and communities employ euphemistic terms to talk or write about the phenomena they find embarrassing (e.g., gender-related words), terrifying (e.g., death, war, sickness, catastrophes, pestilences), and taboos (e.g., religion). Another application of euphemisms is to elevate and promote the status of some event or phenomenon. However, it is often used to talk indirectly about things whose explicit description is considered especially inappropriate.
Kelner (1992) discusses the following words and expressions:
1 Golf war : euphemism for killing: eliminate, degrade, hunt
2 Vietnam war:
o friendly fire
o kill boxes: areas subjected to systematic bombing and destruction
o Body bags :human remains pouches
o Carpet bombing: bombing a whole area
o Sorties: bombing missions
o Patriot missiles: missiles of mass destruction
3 Operation desert storm: US against Iraq
Also in educational circles words with derogatory overtones are everything but rare. Consider the following terms in education: ‘dropouts’ = ‘early leavers’, ‘tap-water teaching method’ = ‘traditional teaching methods’, ‘rote-learning’=’parrot-like learning’ = ‘meaningless learning’, ‘back-rowers’= ‘lazy students’, etc.
In addition, collective mass hysteria is caused by language in US media to make people accept the war against Iraq. The media reinforces this atmosphere of fear and submission by dramatizing and exaggerating Iraqi evil, by masking US lies and crimes, and by producing positive images of Bush and military officials.
The ‘mean world syndrome’ was produced by TV movies such as: ‘Home Alone’, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, and ‘Silence of the Lambs’. These movies show the infatuation of US society with the ideas injected by the media. Dehumanization, racism and violence are the important by-products of media which are materialized through euphemistic and derogatory language (Herman and Chomsky, 2002).
3. Research Questions
In this research the following two research questions are made out of the current problems and needs:
1. How can we detect manipulation of realities and ideologies in text through
euphemization and derogation?
2. Are there mechanisms of manipulation in written political and religious
discourses? And how are they manifested in euphemistic and derogatory terms?
4. Significance of the study
The findings of the present study in the area of CDA and particularly in uncovering the ideological implications of an amalgamation of texts may be presented to the field of Applied Linguistics including Pedagogy, Teaching Methodology, Curriculum and Materials Development as well as Testing or evaluation measures. Moreover, the construct of language proficiency will be treated more comprehensively as a result of the inclusion of the findings of this study. The insights taken from this study will also be conducive to students’ critical thinking as well as self- actualization and creativity.
First, in the arena of pedagogy as a whole, the modification of teaching techniques is indubitably an implication of this study. This enhancement is carried out through some novelties in language teaching strategies based upon the ideas proposed by Hall and Hewings (2001) and a new role and responsibility, one of a ‘cognitive guru’, assigned to the teacher. This way teachers can promote and implement innovation which is defined by Markee (in Hall and Hewings, 2001, p.120) as “proposals for qualitative change in pedagogical materials, approaches, and values that are perceived as new by individuals who comprise a formal (language) education system.” Other teaching methods such as ‘Access-self materials’ (Tomlinson, 1998), ‘Autonomy and Development’ (Edge and Wharton, 1998) also publicize similar notions.
Second, as far as curriculum and material development are concerned, this study promulgates the learner based, cognitively stimulating approaches. The texts selected for these researches are authentic and lend themselves to functional and communicative syllabi. Furthermore, the priority is placed on an ‘a posteriori’ or ‘retrospective’ syllabi (Richards, Platt & Platt, 1992) which are emerging and flexible and in line with students’ feedbacks, cognitive stages and intellectual argumentations. Ideologically charged, genuine materials will be considered an indispensable part of ‘literary canons’, reading, writing and translation courses. This research is a major action taken to include critical thinking, evaluation, and self- actualization in our language planning and policies. They are currently forsaken and nonchalantly neglected in our country.
According to Samuelowicz (1987); Fraser, Malone and Taylor (1990), South-East Asian students are mostly stereotyped as passive non-critical rote-learning students, who don’t participate in deep learning styles and attitudes, these are seen as a reflection of different learning capacities and hence, as a deficit that must be removed by additional teaching strategies. As a consequence, teaching methods and materials designed for students must concentrate on proficiency taking into account the perceived inadequacies in students’ critical thinking and creativity. This is considered the most distinguishing factor separating university academic standards from secondary schools and the one academic area not overtly addressed at high schools. In fact, academics often complain about the paucity of critical thinking skills in students’ assignments and researches. Although critical thinking has always been viewed as a necessary attitude of all successful tertiary students, there has been increasing emphasis in recent years on the overt acquisition or teaching of critical thinking skills, with most academic disciplines now making this requirement explicit. There is no longer an assumption that students will acquire the skill in the normal course of their academic degree. Subject topics specify the need for a critical approach or evidence of critical thinking by including the role of critique, critical reflection, creativity and argumentation or critical analysis in their course outlines training programs. Critical thinking is considered such a fundamental skill that it has become a marketable asset. Each university advertises a list of generic graduate attributes that they claim their students acquire as a part of their degree. Critical thinking and related areas such as problem-solving skills, argumentation and ‘text analysis’ are the prominent elements in these lists. Our universities likewise need to follow the same plans to live up to international standards. This research can be a step towards this undeniably significant goal.
5.1. The data and data sources
The materials used in this study come from our larger study which included emails on the Late Pope’s character, achievements, and death. The ideas and attitudes towards the Pope were elicited through emails. Different people from different countries were asked through electronic mails to elaborate on the late Pope’s character and death. In response to this request, 18 emails were sent to the researchers. They were sent by people from a wide variety of religious, educational, and socio-political backgrounds. For instance, Marta is a 26 year old catholic Polish girl studying sociology and involved in NGO activities. Her parents are involved in educational activities. Catherine is a 33 year old Catholic Belgian girl employed in the TV channel ‘the Canvas’. Cindy is a 32 year old Dutch saleswoman not particularly concerned with religious issues. She has liberal political views and identifies herself with antiwar activist. Benjamin is a 29 year old British middle class graduate, privately and Oxford educated in math and philosophy. He has global environmentalist socio-political views. His mother is Jewish and he is adopted by his Christian father. He considers himself Buddhist though. Michael is a 27 year old Indian-British atheist, art and designs graduate. He is from a working class family and has left wing communist political views. For the purpose of the present paper, two texts are selected out of the emails received. They were then critically analyzed based on the selected framework. The researchers opted for these texts since they were amenable to the intended CDA framework and represented various and even opposing religious, nationalistic and political viewpoints. The language used in such texts was politically and religiously charged and was replete with derogation and euphemisation strategies or negative other-representation as well as positive self-representation. In other words, they were imbued with ideologically manipulative and evaluative vocabulary. The writers turned out to have identified themselves with certain attitudes and viewpoints and tried to influence the audience by means of critical linguistic devices. Hence, the texts selected are homogeneous in terms of the critical devices and in line with the questions and objectives of the research.
5.2. Data Analysis
The data provided in the abovementioned texts are analyzed within the framework proposed by van Dijk (2004). The dichotomous categorization of euphemisation and derogation in his framework reflecting the basic strategy of ‘negative other-representation’ and ‘positive self-representation’ (In-group vs. Out-group, US-THEM) has been adopted for the analysis of the data. This study is a CDA of texts which has followed a qualitative research design.
5.2.1 Analytical framework
The framework employed in this study was that of van Dijk’s (2004). In the framework, he elaborates on 27 ideological strategies among which the dichotomy of ‘euphemization’ and ‘derogation’ stands out. This categorization is very effective in implementing the fundamental strategy of ‘self positive-representation’ and ‘other negative-representation. The former is an ideological function which is applied to portray oneself as superior than the others; instead, the latter is to present the other as inferior or mediocre. Positive self-representation or in-group favouritism is a semantic macro- strategy used for the purpose of ‘face keeping’ or ‘impression management’ (van Dijk, 2004). Negative other-representation is another semantic macro-strategy regarding in-groups and out groups, that is, their division between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, superior and inferior, US and THEM. This is imbued with ideologically charged applications of norms and values. In other words, euphemization and derogation are semantic devices to emphasize or deemphasize (van Dijk, 2000) ideological meanings creating the polarization of ‘in-group and out-group’ (positive self-representation and negative other-representation). These are discursive ways to enhance or mitigate our/ their bad characteristics and, as a result, mark discourse ideologically. Positive self- representation is semantically implemented through euphemization which is a rhetorical device in connection with the avoidance of negative impression formation. It prevents the creation of negative attitudes and opinions about the dominant powers. This ideological function is in fact a semantic move in line with another discursive structure called self-glorification noticed in van Dijk’s framework. Conversely, derogation is a discursive device which is intimately related to another semantic device proposed by van Dijk called ‘victimisation of others’. As the name suggests others’ supposedly mundane properties are magnified and brought to the surface. It is worth mentioning that the macro-strategy of Positive self-representation and Negative other representation is made possible through other discursive strategies such as Categorization, Comparison, Consensus, Evidentiality, Example/Illustration, Hyperbole, Irony, lexicalization, Self-Glorification, Number Game, Polarization, Presupposition, Vagueness and Victimization (for a fuller description of the terms see van Dijk, 2004). The manifestation of some of these elements can be noted in the tables derived from the texts and is presented in the appendix. These tables include the discursive strategies of euphemisation and derogation, presumed effects and ideological moves.
The selected key terms of the framework are defined in the following:
Actor description: The way we describe actors or members of a particular society either in a negative or positive way.
Authority: Mentioning authorities to support one’s claims.
Categorization: Assigning people to different groups.
Consensus: Creating agreement and solidarity
Disclaimer: Presenting an idea as something positive and then rejecting it by the use of terms such as ‘but’ in the second sentence.
Evidentiality: Using hard facts to support one’s ideas.
Hyperbole: A device for enhancing and exaggerating meaning.
Implication: Deducing or inferring implicit information.
Irony: Saying something and meaning something else.
Lexicalization: an overall ideological strategy for negative other-representation through the semantic features of the words.
National Self Glorification: A device to create positive self representation by glorifying one’s country.
Number Game: Using numbers and statistics to appear credible.
Polarization: Categorizing people as belonging to US with good attributes and THEM with bad attributes.
Presupposition: The common shared knowledge between people or the ideas which are taken for granted in a proposition.
Vagueness: Creating uncertainty and ambiguity.
Victimization: Telling bad stories about people who do not belong to US
6. Sample Analysis and Discussion
Text 1 written by Marta
As you know for sure the Pope has died. This is a very important time for Polish people. I just wanted to write you how the things look here. Actually it is amazing to be in this country during this event. Poland is 95% Catholic. You can imagine what Polish Pope meant for Poles. It is beautiful how people deeply participate in his death. It is going to be written in poor English but I want to tell you what is going on. On Friday whole Europe was praying before John Pawl’s II death. They were standing on squares, in Churches, praying at homes. I’m not Catholic so I was spending this time at home. At 10 pm Saturday the cautionary siren went on in whole Warsaw. It was for the first time when I heard it live (before that I could hear them only in war films from world war 11). They (responsible officials) never use them. But I knew from the first second that they turned them one because the Pope had to just die. I knew that it is going to happen soon, but anyways it shocked me. Every program in TV and radio stopped their emission. They started to report about Pope’s death. I came out of my house. People started going to the main Church in Warsaw, near the Old Town. Some of them were crying, some deeply thinking, some lighting candles, some hugging and giving support to each other. Everybody (!) knew what happened instantly. So I walked with my friends to that Church. Streets started to be covered with people walking in one direction. Then we approached the street that was closed for vehicles and people were standing in front of that Church in a big group listening go the mast. Just peace, silence, sadness, some tears, some smiles.
Ideologically Laden Terms:
Important, amazing, 95% catholic, beautiful, deeply, siren, whole Warsaw, shocked, salience, amazing, special, crawling, crowd, united, great man, wonderful friend, pity, gone,
CDA of Text 1
The writer of this email is from Poland, the birth place of the Pope. She informs the readers that 95% of the population of Poland is catholic (statistics: the writer’s figure). This is a rhetorical strategy for argumentation used for objectifying her ideas (Number Game).
Considering the very euphemistic words and favourable dramatic descriptions of the post-Pope events in Poland, the reader is led to believe in the significance, and positive impact as well as great qualifications of the Pope.
First she states ”This is a very important time for the Polish People”. Here she attaches great significance to his death and tries to show this feeling through the description of the events and unprecedented occurrences like the ”the siren went on in the whole Warsaw”. She describes some other events (such people crawling on the streets and hugging, the non-stop coverage of TV programs, closing the shops, etc) as the reason for his importance. She has made the implication or indirect assumption that these events are indicative of the Pope’s importance. A claim which has been rejected by some other people. They believe these external parameters have nothing to do with the Pope’s importance rather they are evidence of different mentalities and practices. Based on the critical analysis of the other emails and articles, one can come to the point that these events may be the aftermath of the mass’s foolhardy, hypocrisy, religious bigotry, etc. In regard with the government’s and the church’s activities, all this fuss (as claimed by some other writers) can be an endeavour to gain more power ideologically and politically in the rat race of political competitions. More technically the Positive self-representation is achieved through the ideological move called ‘National Self-Glorification’ which is a semantic strategy mostly noticed in nationalistic rhetoric.
Afterwards she states ”it is amazing to be in this country during this event” .She has opted for the word ‘amazing’ and not some other derogatory counterparts such as ‘appalling’, ‘shocking’, ‘bizarre’, etc which have been used to refer to the very same situation by writers who have been against the event. The semantic features of the word ‘amazing’ gives it a euphemistic tone creating feelings of a pleasant surprise at a fascinating or even presumably unparalleled experience. She tries to convince the reader that being in Poland in this specific occasion is a prerogative. She is trying to affect the people’s mental model related to this specific situation and make it conspicuous and worthwhile
She then mentions “it is beautiful how people deeply participate in his death”. She uses the term ”beautiful” to describe the state of people’s mourning ceremonies. Again she makes the assumption that the scene is really something pleasant to view. A proposition which is rejected by the other writers who deem it even nauseating and repulsive. Here she also utilizes the term ‘deeply’ as the manner of people’s mourning practices. This word is a shield against some writers’ views in connection with the superficiality of the whole ‘show’ and accusations about people’s idiocy, opportunism as well as government’s and institution’s power struggles. In sharp contrast to this view, some writers believe the mass only toes the line or jumps the band wagon. The community of mourners is positively presented here though.
The writer further points out ”that I knew that it is going to happen soon, but always it shocked me.” She is referring to his death as a shock rather an ‘amazement’ which she already discussed. (See also the sentence ”Poland got out of their houses and prayed…that was something amazing”). The term ‘shock’ invokes the feelings of agitation, distress and consternation. This package of semantic features causes the meaning, effect and interpretation of the word to be derogatory and negative. The writer believes that she might get flabbergasted or nonplussed at his death not amazed nor surprised. So the shared in-group feeling or the common ideology is reflected here.
To corroborate her arguments, she then depicts the situation as very serious, important sorrowful and tranquil by the terms ”just peace (correction mine), salience, sadness, some tears ….” Specifically, the word ‘salience’ is chosen to prove the significance and undeniable impact of the event. She tries to put forward and prove this proposition by the rich semantic components of the word ”salience” which brings to the mind the elements of importance, prominence, and conspicuity.
Again in the sentence ”but participating in this mast was something special” which is another effort at the depiction of the event as something unique and the chance to attend it as a privilege. She intentionally avoids using the derogatory terms eccentric, bizarre, weird and queer as possible candidates to delineate the same situation. Positive self- representation is exercised in this part of the discourse.
Moreover, in the sentence ”the crowd was crawling towards the mast from everywhere.” The terms ‘crowd’ and ‘crawling’ have ideological implications. The writer is indirectly instilling the idea that there were an enormous number of people attending the ceremony. The word ‘crawl’ shows a slow and hampered movement. People are portrayed as dragging themselves onward. Nonetheless, upon a closer scrutiny, the reader may ironically get the impression that ‘crawl’ is used in the derogatory senses of flattery (she is always crawling to the boss), weakness (baby), injury (crippled), etc. (see Hornby, 2004). We notice here that the writer’s efforts at persuasion may backfire under the critical analysis of perceptive readers. It turns out to be counterproductive rather than productive in terms of her persuasive discursive strategies. As a result the intended Polarization, positive self-representation, euphemisation may prove faulty.
Afterwards, she uses the term ‘united’ in connection with the people in the sentence”. It was something so special to watch all those people, united ….”. The point is that she is giving the people a sense of solidarity, and unity, aspiring a single purpose of grieving over a shared bereavement. The discursive strategy of Consensus and Empathy or collectiveness as a political strategy is used to activate and sustain the sense of group ideology. It perpetuates the Polarization of US-THEM, the division between ideologies in favor of her and against her. Into the bargain, the word ‘united’ has strong political implications which can have the pragmatic function of creating fear, threat, and intimidation. Religiously speaking, it may be considered a menace against other branches of Christianity too. In certain circumstances, this word smacks of patriotic tendencies portraying an alliance against some external entity.
Near the end of the article, she mentions ”John Paul II was a great man and a wonderful friend of this planet” claiming the universality of the Pope’s greatness and affability. The word” planet” is intentionally used to attest to his global influence. It is a very appealing and currently fashionable word considering movements and organizations such as ‘Green Party’, ‘N G O’, etc. Here he is portrayed as a peaceful, kind friend of the inhabitants of the planet earth. The social memory of the people is targeted in this argument by the semantically positive terms of ‘friend’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘great’. The writer, who has already identified herself with the appreciable features of the pope’s character, carries out the positive self- representation function by these words.
Lastly, she points out ”it is a pity that he is gone”; the term pity implies a loss inflicted upon the mourners. She wants to show the idea of sympathy and compassion caused by the death of a friend, that is, another persuasive discursive strategy at activating a Common Ground, Consensus and Collectiveness as well as Empathy. All these ideological concepts are means of integrating the in-group ideologies through shared episodic and social memories of the community. The term ‘gone’ is used here to refer to his death implying a spiritual and unearthly journey to join God. His death is not the terminal stage of his life rather a beginning in itself; not a destructive phenomenon afflicting him but a transient blessing causing his reunion with God. From the perspective of the effect on the readers, the terms ‘pity’ and ‘gone’ appeal to the individual’s sympathies and emotions. Pragmatically speaking, this is because of the simplicity and affection emanating from the words in this specific context.
Text 2 by Michael
Time to speak ill of a dead leader who let millions live in anguish. Pope John Paul II is remembered as being compassionate, but in many ways he was anything but, writes Emily Maguire. About 5 million people flocked to Rome last weekend to farewell Pope John Paul II. That’s the same number of people newly infected with HIV in 2003. That’s 10 million people at least – whose lives have been touched by the man who was Pope. Speaking ill of the dead is not the done thing, which is why all we’ve heard about the Pope over the past week is that he was an inspirational and compassionate leader who played a significant role in the defeat of communism in Poland. This may be true, but for many his legacy is one of great suffering. There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. And yet the Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul 11, instructed its priests to condemn condom use. Worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms. Some examples since the mid-1990s: in Honduras the church intervened to prevent the distribution of 1 million free condoms; in Kenya senior church officials burnt condoms and safe-sex literature and released a pamphlet claiming that condoms cause AIDS; in Nicaragua the church persuaded the Government to pulp a sex education guide that mentioned contraception; and in Zambia officials withdrew a government AIDS prevention campaign because of church pressure. In these nations, and many others, the proclamations of John Paul II have meant millions have died, and will die, from a preventable disease. The AIDS crisis aside, the Pope’s anti-contraception stance has contributed to the suffering of the world’s poorest women and children. Speaking on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent in 2003, Nafis Sadik, a former executive director of the UN Population Fund, related a meeting she had with the Pope in 1994. Sadik had suggested the church could play a role in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in Third World countries by teaching men not to “impose themselves” on unwilling wives. “Don’t you think that the irresponsible behaviour of men is caused by women?” was the Pope’s response. So bad luck for women living in Catholic-controlled countries who – whether they want to or not – get pregnant. An abortion is out of the question. In the Pope’s last published book, Memory and Identity, abortion is equated with the Holocaust. So women must spend time in overcrowded, under-resourced hospitals, giving birth to children who are likely to suffer chronic hunger- and poverty-related diseases throughout their short, painful lives. Even in the most extreme case imaginable, John Paul II’s church was immoveable. Two years ago, a nine-year-old Nicaraguan rape victim was almost prevented from having a termination, thanks to the intervention of the Catholic Church. Her Catholic parents, terrified their little girl would not survive childbirth, defied the Pope and procured an abortion. They were promptly excommunicated from the church they loved. Tragically, the church showed less concern for the children under its care then it did for that girl’s violently conceived fetus. In addition to failing to protect hundreds of innocent children from predatory priests, and failing to compensate or adequately apologize to those victims, the Vatican recently displayed horrifying callousness by giving a cushy Rome-based job to Cardinal Bernard Law, the former head of the Boston diocese responsible for covering up multiple child sexual assaults over an extensive period. Again and again in the past week, John Paul II has been remembered as “compassionate” and “loving”, yet he was anything but compassionate and loving to homosexuals, describing the push for gay marriage as “a new ideology of evil”. He preached that homosexual acts went against the “natural moral law” and warned that to allow children to be adopted by gay couples would be to “do violence” to them. We’ll never know how many young men and women have committed suicide or led lives of deceit and anguish because this “great leader” told them the love they felt was “evil”. All of this is particularly appalling when you consider that the so-called ancient and unchanging doctrines of the church are anything but. Catholic thought and doctrine has changed countless times over the centuries, and John Paul II apologized for stances taken by his church in the past, acknowledging that what was once thought right was, in hindsight, wrong. In effect, he was also acknowledging that real harm can be caused by a Catholic acting (or failing to act, in the case of the Holocaust) on cold doctrinal legalism rather than concern and compassion for suffering humanity. John Paul II had the power and influences to radically improve the world. From sub-Saharan Africa to South-East Asia, from Northern Ireland to South America, in every major city in the world, and countless villages and towns, millions of the world’s citizens trusted this man to rule in their best interests and lead them in living right.
Ideologically Laden Terms
ill, flock, legacy, suffering, forty million, fifteen million, worse, influence, poorest, AIDS affected, intervened, claiming, persuaded, pulp, catholic-controlled, Holocaust, under-resourced, suffer, chronic, poverty-related, short, painful, diseases, hunger, termination, predatory, horrifying, callousness, cushy, covering up, ideology, evil, appalling, so-called, cold, doctrinal, legalism
CDA of text 2
This text is in striking contrast with the previous one. The writer uses several persuasive arguments backed by semantic devices and some statistical information to put forward his negative ideological stance towards the Pope. His main arguments are the opposition of the church to the use of contraceptives and abortion which, he believes, have claimed the lives of some five million people and ruined some lives beyond redemption. In this regard, the spread of AIDS virus in Africa, and HIV related orphan children, have been deemed as the aftermath of Pope’s supposedly illogical and non-scientific instructions. The other instance of his allegedly malicious influence is the pope’s stance towards the gays and his objection to their adoption of children.
The writer of this passage attempts to delineate his negative view towards the pope through making propositions supported by some semantic, pragmatic and statistic information. The macro strategies of Positive Self-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy) and Negative Other-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy) are reinforced by means of micro strategies of ‘actor description’ (Ingroup-outgroup), ‘authority’ (argumentation), ‘comparison’ ( meaning, argumentation), ‘consensus’, ‘euphemization’, (rhetoric), ‘lexicalization’ (style), ‘number game’ (rhetoric argumentation), ‘polarization’, (US-Them), Positive Self-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy), ‘presupposition’ (Pragmatic).
First in the sentence ”about 5 million people flocked to Rome….” The derogatory term ‘flock’ conjures up the image of an animal imagery since it is mostly used for the collective immigration of birds, goats or some other animals. This term can be an indication of a ‘herd mentality’ presumably inflicted on the Catholics. It may also create the picture of a bevy of Christians following their shepherd.
The semantic strategy of Negative Other Representation is enhanced through the discursive structures of derogation, ‘actor description’, and ‘lexicalization’. Through the discursive semantic strategy of actor description, (or ‘Agency’, to use van Leeuwen’s terminology) the mourners of the Pope as the social actors or agents are described negatively here. (Also see the word ‘ill’ in the first sentence, with similar implications).The possible positive replacements could have been ‘congregates’, or ‘assembles’. Hence, he presents his proposition through some disparaging words (derogation). Furthermore, lexicalization, a discursive strategy related to style, is another effort at negative other- representation in the word ‘flock’. In the same sentence, the writer tries to substantiate his claims by appealing to statistical information and comparisons. To this end, the rhetorical argumentative device of Number Game is introduced to guarantee the credibility of his claims through moves that emphasized objectivity by the use of numbers and statistics. This is similar to two other micro strategy called Authority and Evidentiality. The writer then refers to the same number of people who died of AIDS to dramatize the ferociousness of the crime allegedly perpetrated by the Pope. This is a snide comment directed at the Pope. The same discursive strategy of Number Game can be noticed in the sentence ”There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. The writer is conveying the idea that his opinions are scientifically tenable. So too are his attempts at negative other- representation backed up by statistical evidence here. Looked from the perspective of moral philosophy, the argumentation technique of Openness or Honesty (van Dijk, 2000) is observed in this part of the discourse, still another impression management ploy to avoid negative impressions on the recipients. This method of argumentation is an effort to change opinions and attitudes into fact, it is intended to persuasively display objectivity and exercise stronger impact on the recipients. van Leeuwen (1999) attributes this to ‘objectivation’.
Moreover, in the sentence ”this may be true, but for many his legacy is one of great suffering. The term ‘legacy” is by no means innocuously simple and unequivocal. Rather it turns out to be very slippery and confusing. It is prone to misinterpretation unless the relevant socio-political and pragmatic information are taken into account. For the reader to come up with the intended negative or positive meaning of the term, he needs to have these contextual and situational clues. This term can refer to ”things passed to somebody by predecessors or from earlier events, etc”: his weak chest was the legacy of a childhood illness ” (Hornby, 2004). In this text, the word ‘legacy’ is used in a derogatory sense owing to his negative attitude and the co-text, that is, ‘great suffering’. The institution is presumed to torment the followers and leave them in distress. In this regard, the Pope’s ideas have been analogous to wounds whose pains and indelible scars can be observed on the Catholics bodies. Here we see the importance of socio-cultural and pragmatic factors in understanding the functions of language, the illocutionary forces and the intended messages. This very term ‘legacy’ can have euphemistic implications in other contexts and social settings: the cultural legacy of the Renaissance. In this instance, the positive semantic features are implied. So the stylistic strategy of lexicalization prompts the ideological intention of Negative other-representation. Based on the contextual formation and the ideological moves of the texts, we can understand that the writer considers the ‘repercussions’ of the Pope’s so called achievement as lethal and counterproductive.
By the same token, the term ‘influence’ is noticed in the sentence ”worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms.” Likewise, the reader requires some sociocultural knowledge or common ground, which consists of knowledge, belief, fact, and opinion, to parry these traps and be able to decipher the true meaning and effect of this particular word. This can be done if one is familiar with the episodic beliefs which are involved with controversial, uncertain and personal issues. ‘Influence’ can be defined as the ”power to affect somebody’s actions, character or beliefs through example, fear, admiration, etc.: a young leader under influence ” (Hornby, 2004). The term smacks of manipulation, struggle for power, as well as exercising pernicious effects on the others in certain situations and contexts. Here again the neighboring words (co-text) are of indispensable importance for understanding the speech acts produced. The words ‘worse’, ‘poorest’, ‘most AIDS- affected’ (as the co-text) provide the necessary clues for perceiving the true intention of the writer, which is one of denouncement rather than advocacy. As a result, the term ‘influence’ is proved to have been used in a rather derogatory not euphemistic sense. The reader can see another instance of negative other- representation or derogation.
The next paragraph is fraught with derogatory terms used as effective linguistic weapons in the hands of the writer to manifest his scathing criticism against the pope. In the sentence ”In Honduras the church intervened to prevent the distribution of 1 million free condoms.” The term ‘intervene’ is defined as ”to interfere so as to prevent something from being done” (Hornby, 2004). Nonetheless, this information is everything but adequate for comprehending the writer’s ideological political as well as religious stance. Like the afore-mentioned examples, common ground and sociocultural knowledge assist the reader to come up with the appropriate mental representations in social memory. This deals with ideological notions of opinion, prejudice, fantasies, etc and more importantly as a criterion for truthfulness. The information about the context and social parameters are the necessary building blocks of our pragmatic analysis. This word (intervene) can be regarded as an impediment on the way of something constructive (specially in the process of language learning by children when talking of adults intervening their learning attempts) or, conversely, a barrier halting a destructive act or phenomenon. In this text, however, the enigma is solved (familiarization) through the words in the immediate contexts. The words ‘claim’, ‘persuade’, ‘pulp’, ‘pressure’, etc. attest to the negative implications of the words ‘intervene’ and another example of derogation or negative other-representation.
In the same paragraph, the writer makes use of the term ‘claim’ in the sentence “released a pamphlet claiming that …..”. This implicitly presupposes that the proclamations of the church are not feasible. The writer is in fact questioning the plausibility and validity of the church’s ideas. A euphemistic replacement for ‘claim’ could have been the word ‘believed’ which is devoid of negative ideological attitude. This concept is used here as an intermediary representation between ideology and discourse to make ideological views concrete. The ideological attitude of Derogation or negative other-representation is manifested through the term ‘claim’. In other words, the Polarization of US vs. THEM or in-group vs. out-group categorization has been carried out through the medium of discourse.
What’s more, the writer’s diatribe is made harsher by the word ‘persuade’ in the sentence ”in Nicaragua the church persuaded the government to pulp a sex education guide……” The reader is led to believe that the church has ‘wheedled’ or ‘cajoled’ the government into the act of ‘pulping’ the pamphlet. This shows the conflict between the government and the church on this issue. Again, the act of pulping, which means savagely breaking into small pieces, is not without negative implications since it is mostly perpetrated by rebels or similar bunch.
Moreover, the collocation ‘Catholic-controlled’ in the sentence ”So bad lucks for women living in catholic-controlled countries”. This combination pinpoints the idea that the institution of church is exercising power and hegemony (refer to Gramsci, 1971) over the people. They are at the mercy of religious commands and fettered by its injunctions of the institution. This is related to the structure of mental models (van Dijk, 2000) as the general abstract schema used by the people for the interpretation of events. These models feature instantiation (specification, example) of more general abstract opinions including social cognitions (here the church control). The derogatory term ‘bad’ intensifies the strategy of negative other-representation in the mental model of the readers together with the relevant schema for the interpretation of events. It should be pointed out, however, that these interpretations are subjective and may be affected by ‘spinning’ or manipulative distorting discourse. In “Weapons of mass deception” written by Rampton and Stauber (1997), the authors show us a brave new shocking world where sharp marketers, information warriors, and ‘perception managers’ can sell an entire war to consumers. ‘Spin doctors’ are in fact the media agencies who fabricate or spin stories and unreal narratives to distort realities. For instance, Iraqi aggression by the US was called by spin doctors as “operation of Iraqi Freedom”. The writers deconstruct ‘true lies’ behind the war; that is, ‘the big lie’ tactic. They expose aggressive public relations campaign used to sell American public on the war with Iraq, (Media spin). In “Mad Cow USA: could the nightmare happen here?” (1997), Rampton and Stauber claim that US policies are as destructive as mad cow disease. (See “Toxic sludge is good for you, Lies, damn lies, and the public relations industry” by Stauber and Rampton (1995a), see also D’Souza, 1996 and Rampton and Stauber 1995b). In this specific example, the process of derogation may lead to biased opinions and ideological Conflict. In line with the same method of argumentation, van Leeuwen (1999) provides the binary opposition of inclusion vs. exclusion which is noticed in this example.
In the same paragraph, the writer uses an ‘allusion’, that is, the ‘Holocaust’ to refer to the issue of abortion. The sentence ”abortion is equated with the holocaust” does not challenge the reader in the process of understanding the intended message. The writer substantiates his idea through a reference to one of the Pope’s books. He has recourse to the fallacy of mentioning ‘authorities’ to support his views. He tries to show the harshness of the analogy by providing a very tangible and heart-rending event called ‘holocaust’. Also, consider the plethora of negative words such as ”overcrowded, under-resourced, suffer, chronic, hunger, poverty-related, diseases, short, painful.” The array of these derogatory words renders the situation in the hospital as abysmal, pathetic and catastrophic. They function as the agents to manifest the writer’s disgust over the Pope’s fatwa (verdict) banning the use of contraceptives. Furthermore, the writer resorts to the discursive strategy of Evidentiality, which is a semantic argumentative measure appealing to evidence and authority, to authenticate his claims. He refers to the Pope’s own book ‘Memory and Identity’ in which abortion is reported to have been synonymous with ‘holocaust’. To dreg up the tragic memory of the massacre, he invokes the readers’ episodic memory in which personal, auto biographic and subjective information is imprinted. At this stage, we see the relationship between personal models and social representations: attitudes and ideologies may affect the contents of the mental models we develop for particular events. We usually tend to translate the general ideologies to specific experiences as embodied in our mental models. The writer’s use of the derogatory terms and the allusion ‘holocaust’ is indicative of this manner of representing events and others negatively by means of these devices.
Besides, the term ‘termination’ is euphemistically used as a replacement for the term ‘abortion’, a direct and inappropriate word, creating the feelings of embarrassment and repulsion. The writer who is an advocate of such a practice has resorted to a mild and pleasant replacement for it, that is, the euphemistic counterpart ‘termination’. In Wikipedia, euphemism is defined as a word or phrase which people use in place of the terms which they consider to be more disagreeable or offensive to themselves and or to their audience. They are often used to hide unpleasant ideas, even when the literal term for them is not necessarily offensive. This type of euphemism is used in public relations and politics, where it is know as ‘doublespeak’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism).
This euphemization is employed as an ideological move affecting the reader’s mental representations of social memory in which norms and values organizing our actions and evaluations are found. This type of memory includes ideological and evaluative beliefs as well as attitudes and judgments of ‘good and bad’, ‘permitted’ or ‘prohibited’ (see the similarity with derogation euphemization). The tactful way of referring to abortion as termination is an effort to change the value systems in the social memory of a community.
In the next paragraph, the terms ‘predatory priests’ are employed: “In addition to failing to protect hundreds of innocent children from predatory priests……”. The term ‘predatory’ is used in a derogatory sense meaning ”wishing to exploit others for financial or sexual reasons: predatory advances, attentions, etc. Also, ”we were pestered by predatory salesmen” (Hornby, 2004). Negative other-representation is very explicitly or rather blatantly exercised here and the writer has made no bones about it. He is defaming or tarnishing their reputation by presenting them as savage, dangerous entities inflicting malaise and abuse. This brings to the mind the practice of ‘smear campaigns’ launched by political rivals. The reader’s mental model or social memory of a ‘priest’ is addressed here. To make the point more concrete and tangible, consider the terms ‘AIDS predator’ and similar collocations which, no doubt, calls forth the image of a beastly despicable individual in the reader’s social or probably episodic memory.
In the same paragraph, the sentence “the Vatican recently displayed horrifying callousness by giving a cushy Rome-based Job…” Here the terms ”horrifying callousness” is a pejorative collocation intended to manifest the writer’s abomination at giving a sinecure to this cardinal. His feeling is dramatized by the intensifier ”horrifying” and the derogatory word ‘callousness’ meaning insensitivity, and stone-heartedness (derogation). He relegates the status of this cardinal’s mission to a ‘cushy’ job which is another derogatory term indicating fun, recklessness, easy benefit, etc; another occurrence of Negative other-representation through derogation. In the same paragraph, the expression ‘cover up’ is used in the sentence ”The former head of the Boston diocese responsible for covering up multiple child assaults over an extended period of time”. This expression is an allegation levelled at the priest. Again this expression is a disparagement and indictment due to the negative semantic features involved (negative other-representation through derogation). The expressions ‘gloss over’ and ‘whitewash’ are synonymous with it and are frequently used in ideologically charged discourse. Also, the derogatory terms ‘sexual assault’ together with the intensifier ‘multiple’ are the writer’s ‘ideological nail’ in the priest’s coffin.
In the next paragraph, the Pope is reported as referring to the impetus for gay marriage ‘a new ideology of evil’. Here the writer expresses his view that some people’s choices for certain lifestyles have been libelled as devilish. Considering the abhorrent features attributed to the devil in Catholic doctrine, one can see how cruel of this analogy is. However, this analogy is everything but rare. Recently the frequency of occurrence of ‘the ideology of devil’ has dramatically increased. Tony Blair calls the attitudes of the Muslims (of course its ‘perverted form’, to his opinion) ‘the ideology of the devil’. So does George Bush in his talks on the ‘Axis of Evil’. The writer states that the Popes has derogated the gay’s choice by reporting him as saying it is tantamount to devilish ideology. To strengthen his argument, the writer employs the ideological move of irony in the sentence ”we’ll never know how many young men and women have committed suicide or led lives of deceit and anguish because this ‘great leader’ told them the love they felt was ‘evil’. Here, the negative other representation strategy reveals itself in the rhetoric device of Irony. van Dijk (2004) states that accusations or derogations may be made more effective if they are not made point blank but in apparently lighter and milder manners using Irony. The pope is sarcastically referred to as ‘this great man’, and the writer is, in effect, poking fun at him. To push his persuasive arguments forward ,the writer makes use of the terms ‘deceit’, ‘evil’ , ‘suicide’, anguish’, all of which affect the mental model of the readers regarding the sordid life the gays have led or the lethal decisions they made under the presumed religious restrictions or bigotry. The writer states that the pope has victimized the gays by sticking to polarization, victimization, binary US THEM or In-group Out-group categories of straight vs. gay , natural vs. unnatural , holy vs. devilish. This schism is said to be deepening by the Pope considering gay practices as ‘devilish’.
The first line of the next paragraph ”all of this is particularly appalling…” is another bitter criticism pointed at the presumably currently unalterable doctrines of the church in regard with disputable issues. The term ‘appalling’ is a derogatory one encompassing the feelings of fear, shock and nausea. All these negative features are encapsulated in one word making it very effective. What’s more, it is preceded by the intensifier ‘particularly’ to the effect of influencing the reader’s mind to a great extent. Again, the rhetoric ideological move of Irony emerges in the terms ‘so called’ in the phrase the ”so called ancient and unchanging doctrines of the church”. The writer’s ironic tone seriously questions and sneers at the ‘so called’ unalterable religious injunctions”. He is presumably avoiding the pitfalls and limitations imposed on the writers when discussing some ‘taboo’ subjects by appealing to the rhetoric and political powers of ironies (van Dijk, 2004). The derogation of religious regulation has come about in a sarcastic remark influencing the readers’ related mental models. In the same paragraph, ‘cold doctrinal legalism’ is used in the sentence ”In effect, he was also acknowledging that real harm can be caused by a catholic acting (or failing to act, in the case of the Holocaust) on cold doctrinal legalism rather than concern and compassion for the suffering humanity. The three words are all used in a derogatory sense to seriously challenge the church motive. In this context, the word ‘cold’ brings about the image of cruelty. For example, ”he was killed in cold blood”, ‘a cold-blooded murder’. Also, the word ‘doctrinal’ is another derogation move since it refers to rigid draconian principles. To make the derogation of the Catholic Church attitude more dramatic, the word” legalism ” is used which portrays the ideology of control and dominance as the manifestations of Macro Strategies. These are strategies employed by groups and social actors, institutions, whole states or societies, and their relationships such as those of power. Since ideologies are shared by a group, they, socially speaking, belong to a macro level of description, whereas individual opinions of a social actor at a given moment belong to the micro level (van Dijk, 2004).
In a nutshell, the findings of this study corroborated the fact that Critical Discourse Analysis can be an appropriate method for the detection of biased and manipulative language. In this framework, the dichotomous categorization of euphemization/ derogation turned out to be a very effective discursive strategy at the disposal of the writers. In the texts analyzed, language has been used as a shield and weapon to support austere catholic ideologies or, conversely, to instil secular viewpoints. Based on the CDAs conducted, the writers of the commentaries on the Pope were seen to have avoided certain words, for the purpose of soothing and propitiating or inculcating certain ideologies, and reinforcing particular feelings such as disgust, excitement, sympathy, respect, etc. In the texts analyzed, a number of discursive structures, and most prominently euphemization and derogation, have been exploited for materializing the main ideological function of Negative Other Representation vs. Positive Self- Representation. This dichotomy is inextricably tied up with other discursive structures of Polarization (US-THEM Categorization, In-group vs. Out-group) which is a semantic strategy in assessments about others. This fundamental Macro strategy (van Dijk, 2004) is revealed through some other strategies such as ‘actor description’, ‘categorization’, ‘consensus’, ‘euphemization’, ‘evidentiality’, ‘hyperbole’, ‘irony’, ‘lexicalization’, ‘national self-glorification’, ‘number game’, ’empathy’, ‘common ground’, ‘disclaimer’, ‘polarization’ (US-THEM), ‘presupposition’, ‘vagueness’, and ‘victimization’. The biased representations detected in this study are used to ‘delegitimize’ (to use van Leeuwen’s (1999) terminology) the other’s ideologies and legitimize our own view points reflected in the social memory (van Dijk, 2000) of the group. In other words, the writers tend to disguise or mystify the manipulative purpose of inclusion and exclusion. Such a disguise creates positive or negative attitudes on the part of the readers.
The pejorative or derisive words (derogation) have been used to vilify the Pope and render him inferior and mundane while euphemistic words (euphemisation) have been utilized to portray him as an altruistic, holy and even unearthly phenomenon. The enormous power of words for emotional appeals, argumentation, distortion of realities and ideologies, manipulation of the other’s thought and behavior, and struggle for inculcating one’s attitudes has been manifested in the CDAs carried out on the commentaries about the Pope.
The findings of the study thus enrich the research literature on CDA and Euphemization/ Derogation strategies in several ways. They suggest that these strategies are pervasive in discourse. They also illustrate that these strategies serve a number of linguistic and non-linguistic functions. They serve both informational and interactional functions (Barton, 1999) in discourse (‘Interactional’ is used here to refer to the ideological and social functions such as establishing solidarity, etc., whereas ‘informational’ function is used for transference of knowledge). The functions of derogation and euphemization are to develop a particular perspective on the information. Positive self-representation and Negative other-representation lead to inclusion and exclusion. In this respect, we tend to use political and religious solidarity and homogeneity or, conversely, difference and heterogeneity to establish the perspective that we and our religious or political views are superior. The insights gained from this study show that the information presented and the perspective developed in the discourse of the people critically analyzed (in this case, negative other representation and positive other representation) is effectively created and reinforced by the frequent use of euphemization and derogation strategies. It also proves the ubiquity of ideological rhetoric specially the semantic section of language (van Dijk, 2004) even in the disputations about the apparently ‘innocent’ topics such as ‘the Pope’ about which it is naively assumed to be little ideological conflicts. The point is that even discourses which seem to be devoid of any ideological content do have their ideological baggage owing to the pervasiveness of positive self-representation and negative other-representation.
Taking into account the colossal bulk of CDA research on different aspects and components of language, it is assumed as true that it has been a huge stride in the path of text analysis for the ultimate goal of exposing the underlying ideologies and ideological manipulations. There is, however, no single monolithic approach or theoretical framework for this sociolinguistic discovery which entails familiarity with linguistic and non-linguistic facts. The researchers needs some socio-political, information about the writer of the text as well as a good grasp of the religious, economic, historical, political and social conditions of the setting. This way he is armed with the necessary instrument to delve into the different layers of meanings and the intricate network of semantic implications to decipher the dialogical moves and manipulations in a text.
The researchers have been on their guards taking into account this convoluted interplay between language, politics and society. He has tried to be conscious of the sensitive role played by the semantic components of the languages and different functions (see Halliday, 1985) of words such as persuasion, argumentation, deception, transference of information, dominance, hegemony (see Gramsci, 1971), manufacturing consent (see Chomsky, 2002), monopoly, imperialism (see Thompson,1990), fallacious arguments, spinning (Goddard,1998; Rampton and stauber,1997) , innuendo, subliminal seduction, (Key, 1973), linguicide (see Wikipedia on this issue), defamilirization (Magic Realism), euphemization (Fulford, 2002), political correctness (Burridge,1991), derogation, identifying taboos and orthodoxies verbal camouflage, language sterilization, etc. Hence, the researchers did their best to make the most encapsulating framework, which turned out to be van Dijk’s (2004) CDA design. The findings of the study approved the conclusiveness and precision of this conceptual framework in catering to the nuances of ideological manipulation since it dealt with the essential linguistic, social and political information. It is stating the obvious that no CDA is adequate and viable without these indispensable factors. This framework was shown be different from and more efficient than the previous ones owing to its emphasis on the semantic strategies which has been mostly overlooked or victimized in the previous syntactic oriented approaches. The paucity of the CDA researches on the semantic and rhetorical devices and the preponderance and bewildering frequency of such elements in ideological moves has made research with this orientation just what the doctor orders! It presents an amalgamation of method of argumentation, political strategies, rhetorical devices, semantic strategies, and stylistic information, to the effect of achieving an accurate criterion for the huge significance of language in distorting realities, glorifying or otherwise smearing something or someone. Furthermore, the framework lends itself neatly to the presumed effects of derogatory and euphemistic words on the recipients of the message. This presumed effect on the audience (for instance, empathy, sympathy, agreement, objection, denouncement, abomination, fear, insecurity, tranquillity, animosity, excitement, fury, etc) has not been touched upon by the previous researchers notwithstanding its unique role in determining the functions the building blocks of a text have. Furthermore, the inclusion of disciplines such as politics, sociology, and history has made van Dijk’s Framework (2004) very exhaustive and germane with the current idea of the value attached to the concept of ‘interdisciplinary’. This entails involvement and familiarity with different areas of knowledge or study (Hornby, 2004: 677). This interdisciplinary nature of the present research and the paradigm employed is a step towards higher levels of cognition such as critical thinking (see Reichenbach, 2001; Bloom, 1956). The researchers adopting such an approach can by no means do without the knowledge about the other relevant disciplines. This is in itself an urge to expand one’s educational horizons and free oneself from the shackles of mental slavery which has plagued our educational systems. Another important point which strengthens the credence of this research is the ‘novelty effect’ which, psychologically speaking magnifies one’s motivation in wholeheartedly reading something and acting accordingly. As you noticed, the CDAs were carried out on a novel and (to the researcher’s opinion) interesting and globally important issue. This study was allocated to the email on the life, achievements, and death of the Late Pope. This was an innovative selection owing to the ubiquity and saliency of emails in the post modern world of mind-boggling advancements in communication and globalization. Also we can not deny the far reaching effects of the charismatic Pope whose aura, vibe, and radiation were felt by massive numbers of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The other factor which had made a CDA on the Pope inspiring was his involvement with some very controversial issues such as the separation of church and state, AIDS, poverty, etc. The CDAs on the emails on the Pope indicated that such text analyses can expand our understanding of the ways people’s episodic and social memories (van Dijk, 2004) can be affected by semantic strategies of derogation and euphemization as the fundamental linguistic tools for positive self representation and negative other representation.
Theoretically speaking, the findings of this study can be applied for the enrichment of the previous theories of language learning such as Markedness Theory, Language Universals, Acculturation, Natural Approach, Monitor Model, etc. The results can be used in stipulating new conditions in a theory of language and expanding it to include some new elements already overlooked. The findings of this research can also help psychologists unravel the always present conundrum of ”nature vs. nurture” controversy regarding language learning. Furthermore, the tables provided by the researchers enrich the framework’s effectiveness, consistency and comprehensiveness in detecting ideological inculcations. More specifically the section ‘the presumed ideological effect’ suggested by the researcher encompasses a whole range of emotions, reactions, attitudes and opinions on the part of the recipients. This proposal for enlargement of the framework was made vis-à-vis the insights gained from the texts analyzed and the inadequacy of van Dijk’s framework to cater to such a need. The fact is that sociolinguistic of this type studies do not occur in lacunas or vacuums, rather the writers’ political, social and religious backgrounds are in an inextricable contact with those of the recipients of the message. Therefore there needs to be a criterion to assess this dynamic ideological interaction. The tables presented are an effort to come up with such a device. Studies of this kind emphasizing the semantic component of the language and the mutual effect of the producers and recipients of the message can shed some more light on the current literature on CDA, by illuminating the sections and characteristics of language which have been ignored in the previous studies. Moreover, in regard with the development of a theory of second language learning, the findings of this study can enrich the typological linguistics studies and produce new ways of categorizing languages. The Semantic features used in this CDA research can be the criteria for classifying languages based on the techniques and strategies they provide for ideological manipulation and reality distortion. Language typology puts forward the idea that languages differ from each other not entirely randomly but manifest various types of commonalities and differences. The classifications such as isolating language, agglutinating, polysynthetic or incorporating, tone, SOV, SVO, (see Greenberg, 1974; Malmkjar, 2004) are noticed here. Language typology will be viewed entirely differently if the previously ignored semantic and discursive structures are included in a theory of language learning. This study can be a foundation stone for future studies regarding the semantic ideological potentials of languages in manufacturing, maintaining and disseminating realities. Moreover, in the light of the data gleaned from this study and similar CAD researches, the formidable task of forensic linguists will be made easier in detecting the ”plagiarized, alien texts” by finding out the irregularities in the semantic critical aspects of the text. Investigations into ”authorship attribution” can use the critical linguistic tools in a forensic context. New computer soft wares can be developed based on new knowledge about people’s style of ideological manipulation, reality fabrication!, and stylistic semantic variation. The following questions can be answered more accurately: What does the text say? What does a text mean? What does part of a text mean? And who is the author? Replying such questions is of paramount importance in the perpetration of crimes such as manslaughter, suicide (suicide notes) and the detection of the real culprit. Counterfeits and fake certificates and texts can be recognized through a critical semantic analysis such as the one conducted in this research.
Another discipline is closely related to CDA studies is pragmatics which deals with the principles governing language in use (Malmkjar, 2004). It includes a number of phenomena such as conversational analysis, speech act theory, conversational implicatures, conversational maxims (Grice, 1975), politeness (Brown and Levinson, 1987; Leech, 1983), relevance theory (Sperber & Wilson, 2002), critical linguistics, CDA, language and education, linguistic relativity, sociolinguistics, social pragmatics, and macro pragmatics. Fundamental to the understanding of all these phenomena is having a profound understanding of the cultural traditions, norms and values in different sociolinguistic background. Bitterly ironic though, these indispensable aspects of language have not received the attention they deserve in our academic settings. This is certainly a terrible blow to our education system and must be tackled by the findings of CDA and similar pragmatically oriented studies. Second language learning will doubtless be a debacle or a distressingly frustrating experience unless the intricate cultural pragmatic constraints on communication, reading and writing are brought to the limelight. In addition, rhetoric and stylistics are two essential building blocks of language proficiency. Much to the researcher’s disappointment, in most of the frameworks and pedagogical programs these two aspects of language have been either overlooked entirely or received slight attention. Rhetoric is rooted in the theory of how, and by what linguistic tools a speaker or writer can achieve his aims. It is the art of argumentation, persuasion, and disputation; all elaborated on by CDA.
Furthermore, knowledge about this discipline can immeasurably enhance students’ essay writing and speaking abilities. These rhetoric devices of argumentation were profoundly discussed in this study. Another closely related phenomenon is stylistics which presents a range of linguistic styles in communications. This includes a continuum of Frozen, Formal, Consultative, Casual, Intimate styles. Chaos, misunderstanding, and wrath ensue in the case that the stylistic norms based on the context and culture are violated. In writing, stylistic and collocational clash undermine a text’s coherence and cohesion as well as its rhetorical efficiency. These points have deemed excruciatingly important in the CDA conducted.
Second, in our academic settings, critical thinking has received little attention. According to Reichenbach (2001), critical thinking is:
The careful, deliberate, determination of whether we should accept, reject or suspend judgement about the truth of a claim or a recommendation to act in a certain way. It involves being a reflective, persistent questioner, wanting to know why you should believe or do something and carefully investigating and evaluating the reasons given. (p.19)
He also regards the following six elements as necessary for critical thinkers:
1. Acquiring knowledge or information
2. Comprehending or understanding what you read and hear
3. Applying what you understand to given situations
4. Analyzing the information that you understand
5. Synthesizing and creatively using what you understand and have analyzed
6. Critically evaluating what you understand and have analyzed or created (p.20).
One of the implicit objectives of this research is to help students acquire the afore-mentioned competencies through the linguistically, cognitively and pedagogically appropriate materials and techniques. This entails considering the essential criteria for fostering thoughtfulness, profundity, and perceptiveness.
The view has been influenced by Bloom’s (1956) “Taxonomy of educational objectives. Richards et al (2003, p.39) enumerate the following six levels, starting from ‘Knowledge’ (which focuses on reproduction of facts) to ‘evaluation’ (which represents higher level of thinking) for cognitive development:
Level: Characteristic student behaviours
Knowledge: Remembering, memorizing, recognizing, recalling
Comprehension: Interpreting, translating from one medium to
Another, describing in one’s own words
Application: Problem-solving, applying, in formation to produce
Analysis: Subdividing something to show how it is put together, Finding the underlying structure of a communication, identifying motives
Synthesis: Creating a unique, original product that may be
in verbal form Or may be a physical object
Evaluation: Making decisions about issues, resolving controversies
or differences of opinion.
This model assists our students in their critical thinking activities, and one of the goals of this research is to take care of the different stages of educational levels and integrate them into a pattern for teaching and learning critical thinking and ultimately ‘self actualization’ and ‘evaluation’. On a broader perspective, the findings of this research can be applied to the other disciplines since these cognitive capacities are necessary for the comprehension and analysis in other fields too.
The findings of this study may revitalize the neglected construct of language proficiency which is so fragile and prone to unfair attitudes. This concept has recently been loosely defined and suffers from menacing loopholes. Some professors’ unwarranted leniency regarding students’ acceptable level of proficiency has been detrimental to their comprehension and production skills. Therefore, the essential qualifications of language proficiency must be assessed against critically and pragmatically more rigorous criteria such as ‘evaluative semantics’, (Malrieu, 1999) including euphemism/derogatory senses, and CDA models of Hodge and Kress (1993); Fairclough (1995); Wodak (2001); Widdowson (2000); van Dijk (2001) and van Leeuwen, (1996). It is worth mentioning that appropriate proficiency in the language is the prerequisite condition for acquisition of critical skills (four skills) in the language. In turn, the development in the students’ cognitive abilities will strengthen and facilitate the acquisition of a second language. Critical thinking is far from possible unless the four skills have been deemed and grasped critically.
Bachman’s (1995) model of ‘Communicative Language Ability’ is a step towards the appropriate model of language proficiency. It consists of a language competence (organizational: grammatical, textual and pragmatic: illocutionary sociolinguistics competence).This model and the other tests and frameworks of language proficiency, nonetheless, have turned a blind eye to the critical thinking, self actualization, and argumentation which are the final destination in the students’ linguistic and cognitive journey. This research aims at exposing the forsaken elements and offering some ideas to enliven the whole construct. A by product of this research can be some insights into more effective learning and teaching techniques and procedures related to such sections.
Consequently, critical comprehension and production of language, appreciating ambiguity (mystification) or vague language, layers of meaning (denotation, connotation, designation), emotive language (stereotyping, euphemism, dysphemism or derogatory, innuendo (implicit or indirect reference), hyperbole (exaggeration), and persuasive language are touched upon or elaborated on in this research. Any effort at understanding the relationship between language, power and ideology, as the fulcrum of CDA arguments and of this research, will backfire unless the above mentioned factors are taken into account.
CDA advocates endeavour to put forward an insight into the discursive structures of various texts and genres together with their socio- political effects. Moreover, they wish to draw the readers and listeners’ (recipients of the message) attention to hidden to a text and do not just the ‘tip of the ideological iceberg’ (van Dijk, 1997). People tend to consider the text as the true reflections of realities and fact and have a propensity to see only what meets the eyes. Critical analysts of the texts, however, attempts to create a sensitivity and consciousness about the latent invisible fabrication, misinformation, and manipulation, misdirection, and misinterpretation exercised by some writers and speakers. The derogation and euphemization stratagems are mostly not observed nor felt by the people who are at the mercy of strong argumentative and rhetorical instruments. The ensued positive self representation and negative other representation is inspected and a teleological analysis is put forward by CDA practitioners.
Another implication of a CDA of this type is to ask the readers to be conscious of different aspects a text production such as the writer’s socio-political background, the historical setting, and the cultural overtones. These parameters are the essential ingredients of critical thinking and self actualization as the ultimate goal of all educational enterprises (Reichenbach, 2001). It is a powerful weapon against insular, parochial and short-sighted mentalities which is the bane of our educational system. It is also a shield to ward off the mental sluggishness and lackadaisical cognitions threatening some students. Texts are far from ideologically neutral rather they are replete with ideologically charged materials which can be brought to the readers’ and listener’s views through CDA studies. As the findings of the present research showed there are very strong ideological ploys in the texts investigated and the writers have constructed and disseminated their attitudes in a surreptitious manner. As Barthes (1968) states in his ‘death of the author’, readers are not passive recipients of the information flowed to them anymore. They are supposed to be creative perceptive agents in this process of interaction with the text which may be fraught with unobservable discursive strategies promoting the writer’s attitudes.
Another important insight gained from the texts analyzed was that language was a very strong device in promulgating religious bigotry, jingoism, nationalistic self glorification, subliminal seduction, fallacious arguments, specifying religious and political taboos, political conflicts, suppression of minorities, denigration of the underprivileged, cracking down on the dissidents, religious domination over the masses, manufacturing consent and mental slavery, distorting the unwelcome realities, construction and imposition of ideologies, launching smear campaigns, putting positive and negative spins, and what not.
CDA propagates the idea that enhancement of critical thinking is conducive to a society in which justice and equality are materialized and power is distributed fairly among the citizens. This mental ability make readers and listeners perceptive to judgemental prejudiced discourse and prompts them to act against injustice, incommensurate distribution of power, and pandemic propaganda machines which create fear and insecurity among the people and say that only their products can be the panacea or cure-all. These propaganda measures marginalize the Other through their ideologically loaded sexist or racist discourse. Political correctness, for instance, in US and England was a reaction to sexist language stipulating some conditions on the ‘appropriate’ non-racist discourse such as ‘salesperson’ instead of ‘salesman’ or the of the pronouns he/she and not just ‘he’, It was in effect a campaign against patriarchal norms and practices or a male dominated society or discourse. Language planning and policies as such can benefit a lot from CDA studies which reflect such issues in detail.
CDA can be used as a powerful device for deconstructing the texts to come up with their intended ideologies. It is a methodological approach for those involved in socio-cultural studies. Also, it is can be a theory for finding the manners in which the attitudes, political powers and identities causes sociolinguistic variations in different communities.
To wind up the argument on the practical significance of the present study, one cannot help discussing the effect of CDA on translation studies and practices. The act of translation is not an exclusively purely linguistic enterprise; the translator must attend to political, social and ideological backgrounds of the writer to be able to render a message from the source to target language. Due to the fact that translation encompasses the close link between language and culture, CDA researchers aim at accurately analyzing the translated rendition to see how much the ideology of the writer is visible in the translated text, and to what extent cultural points affect the process of translation. (See Venuti’s visibility vs. invisibility of the translator, 2000). The findings of the present study, obviously, would help the readers/translators determine the discursive, ideologically manipulative structures used by dominant agents and offers some implicit guidelines to resist and modify them. In this case, Venuti’s (2000) visibility/invisibility dichotomy, no doubt, creates the awareness necessary in this enterprise. Besides, Munday’s (2001) insights on the ideological and political parameters related to the status of the source text have been also very helpful in the analysis of movie translation and critiques. Hence translations turn out to be ideologically motivated, confusing political ideologies with the original idea (adaptation). In this context, translation is used in the battle lines of ideologies and religions creating a lasting effect on translational output. Translations are sometimes scenes of ideological incursions, that is, suppression of dialectic features. They are sites of ideological clashes in which certain realities are constructed and challenged and xenophobic attitudes are propagated. The translators counterfeit realities and inculcate them in the innocent audience. This research and other CDAs can give some insights into the ideological and socio-political factors which determine the strategies applied in translation.
The study also raises some interesting and challenging questions for the continued research on:
1. What other functions are served by derogation and euphemization?
2. What is the role of derogation and euphemisation (positive self representation and negative other representation) in enhancing ‘critical thinking’ as an undeniably important indication of cognitive competency?
3. Is it typical of euphemisation and derogation to be used not only to provide information but also to elaborate, develop and reinforce ideological perspectives?
4. How does an awareness of this dichotomy affect students’ language proficiencies and applied linguistic studies?
5. How is this dichotomy reflected in ordinary or mundane conversations (Schegloff, 1997)? And can it be captured by “Conversation Analysis” (CA) terminologies in its foundational rhetoric? And how can it help the researches solve the controversies surrounding CA and CDA objectives and epistemological approaches? (See Billig, 1999)
6. What is the attitude of Feminist thinkers or other minorities towards this dichotomy? How is it related to the self representation and “framing” of the disadvantaged people (Torck, 2001) in their media representations (like homeless people)?
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