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A corpus-based investigation of some pragmatic politeness features utilised during question time in the national parliament of Ireland

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dc.contributor.advisor Atkinson, David O'Donnell, Declan 2014-01-15T12:45:26Z 2014-01-15T12:45:26Z 2013
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract This research investigates some politeness features used by Irish politicians during Question Time (QT) in the national parliament of Ireland, through the prism of some corpus linguistics tools and an examination of some aspects of facework utilised in that setting. It also investigates the feasibility of building a corpus from data drawn from the official parliamentary record in Ireland. The study draws on approaches and theories from politeness theory, language variation and pragmatics to frame the analysis of six months of Dáil QTs, providing a database of 950,000 words of transcribed data, which is examined using quantitative and qualitative corpus-based techniques. The guiding question is to determine how the use of certain politeness features and strategies in Dáil Eireann differ from usage of the same features and strategies in a comparable parliamentary setting, the House of Commons in London, focusing in depth on two specific features; the use of “please” and “thank you”, and the use of “yes” and “no” in response to questions. The analysis begins by investigating through a preliminary study the linguistic accuracy of the official Dáil transcripts which are made available to the public on the website. This study is supplemented by interviews with key personnel in the production of the Official Report. From this initial study it is noted that certain politeness strategies during QT (such as the use of modal verbs, and the use of terms of address) are unsuitable for analysis through a corpus linguistics framework. Caution should be used when using official parliamentary transcripts for linguistic analysis, while linguists (particularly corpus linguists) should choose carefully which linguistic items to study when availing of this data. Having isolated certain politeness features which are amenable to corpus analysis, these features are then examined using corpus-linguistics techniques, including word lists and concordances. Results of the corpus-based dimension of this research show that a view of lexical features as simple politeness markers seem to be inadequate when accounting for the complexity of usage of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in both the national parliaments of Ireland and Britain. A range of factors (including sentence structure, topic under discussion and speakers’ ideological views) need to be considered. Following the corpus-based examination, extracts from the Irish and British corpora were examined in detail, with a particular focus on two aspects of facework, FTAs and positive politeness strategies. 24 QT exchanges (12 from the Irish setting and 12 from the British setting) are examined in detail, in order to identify some aspects of facework used in this setting. Results of this aspect of the investigation indicate that politicians use a mixture of strategies during QT, including talking up their own positive face, ignoring FTAs, mitigating techniques and self-justification. Face-threatening acts (FTAs) occur with similar frequency in the Irish and British settings, but there is a greater preponderance of positive politeness strategies in the Irish setting. Possible reasons for this difference are discussed. Results of all three aspects of this research are then integrated. It is argued that Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory can provide useful insights into discourse practices during QT, but this should be supplemented with impoliteness research (particularly Jonathan Culpeper’s work), and the concept of ostensible mitigation (Link and Kreuz), to provide a more rounded picture of how these politeness features are utilised in both the Irish and British setting. It is seen that a Communities of Practice approach can help to identity what is sanctioned by institutional norms, and when these norms are violated. Implications for future research in the areas of parliamentary discourse and politeness studies are discussed, as are the implications for future research in the area of Irish English. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject Ireland en_US
dc.subject parliament en_US
dc.subject question time en_US
dc.title A corpus-based investigation of some pragmatic politeness features utilised during question time in the national parliament of Ireland en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US

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