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A metafunctional analysis of two televised U.K. political interviews with Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer

O'Grady, Gerard 2022. A metafunctional analysis of two televised U.K. political interviews with Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer. In: Feldman, Ofer ed. Adversarial Political Interviewing: Worldwide Perspectives During Polarized Times', Springer, pp. 149-170. (10.1007/978-981-19-0576-6)

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Abstract

This chapter analyzes two televised political interviews: one with the U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the other with the Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer. I employ a metafunctional approach (Halliday & Matthiessen (2014) Halliday’s introduction to functional grammar (4th ed.). Routledge.). This proposes that there are three strands of meaning, Experiential, Interpersonal and Textual, known as metafunctions. The three metafunctions correspond to three semiotic dimensions: Field, Tenor, and Mode. Field meanings construe what is going on. Tenor meanings represent the speakers’ evaluations, access to knowledge, and distance. Mode meanings are the symbolic organization of the message. Both interviews are examined as separate texts in order to illustrate how the politicians’ lexicogrammatical and prosodic choices encoded contextualized values aimed at persuading the viewers that presuppositions about their characters and past actions were false. The analysis builds on previous work by providing further evidence that political interviews have become more like conversation, and that while interviewers remain formally neutral, they smuggle in their own presuppositions. By examining the patterning of prosodic, grammatical, and lexical choices, we gain an understanding of how Johnson and Starmer presented a self-image that countered the interviewer’s presuppositions of their individual character flaws.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9789811905759
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 February 2022
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 14:00
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/150092

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