Political Discourse Analysis

Every day we are bombarded with political rhetoric in the form of interviews, debates and statements from our leaders and commentators, on the television, radio and internet. Underlying this rhetoric is the micro-world of spoken discourse and non-verbal gestures that we rarely notice. This world consists of politicians and commentators hesitating, equivocating, pausing, and using all their rhetorical nounce to get their message across while presenting themselves in the best light and avoiding saying anything that might damage their face.  

Here at neutralfooting we are committed to exploring this world. We take an in-depth look at political discourse, exploring the spaces between utterances and words, and the gaps between turns and transitions. 


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.

Hesitation & Slips

Of the 125 trillion words spoken around the world every day, approximately two in a thousand are uttered in error. That works out at 250 billion words a day! Most of these slips of the tongue are quickly repaired and retired to the linguistic graveyard unnoticed. A few may catch our attention and make us chuckle – if the speaker is some well-known personality, politician or presenter, they may even make the headlines. This site dissects some of these linguistic slips to see what they can tell us about the speech planning processes that produced them and the persons that uttered them. The site is not designed to mock these people, however, but to celebrate them, and to thank them for the little nugget of linguistic creativity they have donated to the graveyard.

Why do so many fall foul of the Hunt/cunt slip?

Many commentators and broadcasters have fallen foul of Jeremy Hunt’s name over the years. Some make light of the slip, some ignore it, others apologise profusely. Hunt himself has acknowledged the problems people have had with his surname over the years including teachers at school.

Keep reading

“Can I explain why?” “No explain how.”

Andrew Neil interviewed Jeremy Corbyn on BBC television tonight. Neil is a forensic interviewer who usually pins his interviewees down to exact words and syllables. But Corbyn is know for his own brand of stubbornness, and there was one wonderful moment when the two negotiated the terms of a question like children in the school…

Keep reading

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: