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Political Language

Sharon E. Jarvis


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Political language has been studied by sociolinguists, communication scholars, political scientists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and marketing professionals (→  Language and Social Interaction ; Political Communication ). Shared assumptions across these fields are that (1) citizens come to know their political worlds through messages and symbols, and (2) political words do not have →  meaning in themselves; rather their meanings are a function of contexts, speakers, audiences, and predispositions. Beyond these shared assumptions, specific fields have made unique contributions to what is known about political language. Fundamental contributions to this topic have been provided by sociolinguists. Widely accepted claims from this area include those that naming is critical to communication (for only entities that are named can be shared among people; Kress & Hodge 1981 ); that language helps individuals to understand situations (as the structure of any language helps to shape the perceptual and conceptual discriminations available to individuals; Fowler 1974 ); and that political language is not static (indeed, political terms can change with time as the meanings of words can expand, contract, or shift from their original meanings; Fromkin & Rodman 1974 ). Key scholarship in communication and →  cultural studies has also focused on the power ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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