Polite Evasiveness of American Politicians in Face-to-Face Interviews
The political discourse has been subject of many psychological and linguistic studies focusing on persuasive speech of political leaders either in monological data or turn-taking. In their statements, politicians were found to abound in various stylistic and literary devices, e.g. metaphors (Lakoff: 2004) which were noticed to have a positive perlocutionary effect on the audience and enabled to create the common ground with the public. The critical discourse analysis has also contributed to unveil the power of political language by identifying those linguistic devices which help politicians to shift the attention from their own persona to that of the party, and thus lead to evade replying to face threatening questions (Bull, Elliott: 1996). Although the phenomenon of ‘evasiveness´ was examined by P. Bull and Mayer (1993) who devised a typology of eleven basic modes of political ‘non-replying’ in the context of British political interviews in 1987, their socio-psychological theory has never been verified as applicable in other contexts, settings or time, which according to conversation and textual analysis all contribute to the shaping of the meaning in interaction (Schiffrin: 1994). Furthermore, no linguistic correlation has been performed in relation to their suggested typology. The aim of this paper is thus to verify a) whether Bull and Mayer´s classification of evasive strategies employed by British politicians in 1987 is applicable also in the context of American interviews from the more current time period (2004-2008) and to discover b) what linguistic features are employed in the most prominent evasive strategies of our sample. The basic comparison of the British and American strategies of non-replying to questions will be also provided.
Keywords - Critical Discourse Analysis, Conversation Analysis, Evasion, Politeness, Face Threatening Act, Politics