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Mapping Hansard Impression Management Strategies through Time and Space

Archer, Dawn (2017) Mapping Hansard Impression Management Strategies through Time and Space. Studia Neophilologica, 89 (sup1). ISSN 0039-3274

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Abstract

Impolite behaviour is thought to be easier to investigate than polite or politic behaviour in diachronic contexts, because of attracting more evaluative comment. But an approach based on such metapragmatic commentary can miss a lot of facework strategies in contexts such as the UK parliament (modern and historical). In this paper, I draw on Historic Hansard datasets (1812–2003) to demonstrate how a (semi)automatic method involving contiguous searches of two-to-four features can better reveal the nuances of these MPs’ facework strategies than a focus on metapragmatic terms has afforded hitherto. The (semi)automatic method uses the recently created Historic Thesaurus Semantic Tagger (HTST) to search for meaning constellations (Archer and Malory 2017). Meaning constellations relating to facework are made up of sequences of semantic fields and/or parts-of-speech which, when organised in certain ways, achieve im/politeness, politic behaviour, strategic ambiguity, a combination of face enhancement and face threat, etc. This paper discusses a number of these meaning constellations, with a particular focus on those which engage in both face enhancement and face aggravation simultaneously (whilst nonetheless avoiding the label, “unparliamentary language”).

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