Equivocation

Equivocation is “the intentional use of imprecise language designed to avoid a loss of face”. Politicians typically equivocate when they are asked a conflictual question which is designed to attack their face. In order to defend their face, the politician answers in an ambiguous manner. This helps to protect their face and the face of their party.

Interviewer: David Gauke do you (.) support the creation of new grammar schools

Gauke: well look (.) there is a lot of press speculation at the moment about er any sort of future announcement that may b- may be made on er er education policy

Interviewer: I’m I’m asking for your view …

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See a definition of equivocation

A TYPOLOGY OF EQUIVOCATION STRATEGIES

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 1)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. In Bull and Mayer’s study of Thatcher and Kinnock interviews in 1993 they categorised these into eleven super-ordinate categories, that can be divided even further into thirty subordinate categories.

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Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 2)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. Often a politician will have a preferred way to equivocate and avoid using some of Bull’s categories. In the Battle for Number 10 and The ITV Leader’s Debates there were three categories which…

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BLOGS OF POLITICIANS EQUIVOCATING

Detachment

Emily Maitlis interviewed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Newsnight last night regarding the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. The Prime Minister had been criticised for not talking to the residents…

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Equivocation & hesitation

There is a good example here of a politician being put in a tight corner on spending by the interviewer and having to equivocate. In the second part the pressure…

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WHILE THE PUBLIC LOOK ON WITH …

Exasperation and incredulity!

Political commentators and journalists all have their own idiosyncratic styles when interviewing politicians. Emily Maitlis, the BBC Newsnight  commentator, often shows exasperation and incredulity in her voice through sweeping intonation… Continue Reading →

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Hesitation, Equivocation & Pausing

Politics with its warts an all! Unveiling the micro-world of political rhetoric and spin Every day we are bombarded with political rhetoric in the form of interviews, debates and statements from our political leaders and commentators, on the television, radio and internet. Underlying this rhetoric is the micro-world of spoken discourse that we rarely get…

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Featured image: House of Commons Chamber: Speaker’s table by UK Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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