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  • Sealey & Bates Pre-print

    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Pragmatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Pragmatics, 104, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2016.07.010

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Prime Ministerial self-reported actions in Prime Minister’s Questions 1979-2010: a corpus-assisted analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Pragmatics
Volume104
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)18-31
Publication statusPublished
Early online date14/09/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article analyses prime ministerial self-representation in the context of responses to the questions put to four recent British Prime Ministers during Prime Minister’s Questions. From the transcripts of these PMs’ contributions to PMQs, all the clauses with ‘I’ as subject were identified. Corpus analysis software was used to calculate which are the most frequent verbs of which ‘I’ is the subject when PMs answer questions during PMQs. The verbs were classified semantically, and pragmatic and rhetorical patterns were identified. Results show a high proportion of cognitive and communicative processes, as opposed to verbs denoting physical or material actions. Through the close analysis of PMs’ utterances featuring structures with ‘I’ and three frequent verbs – THINK, UNDERSTAND and SAY – we explore patterns in their argumentation, management of face and authority, and identification with the norms of this political institution as well as those of the wider society. We argue that normative influences on what PMs represent themselves as doing include explicit constraints on parliamentary behaviour, an adversarial culture that persists despite long-standing criticisms, and the requirement to conform both to the conventions of this ritualised discourse situation and to broader socio-cultural expectations.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Pragmatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Pragmatics, 104, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2016.07.010