77762 - Analysis of Political Language

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course, which is taught in English, deals with quantitative and qualitative methods for the analysis of political language. At the end of the course, the student: - is able to identify various genres of political discourse and political reporting with particular reference to Great Britain and the USA; - can analyze the contextual features which determine the lexical and grammatical characteristics of different varieties of political language; - is able to make a semantic and lexical analysis of a individual political discourse and of a corpus of political discourse - has an English language competence not inferior to B2 (CEFR)

Course contents

During the course, quantitative and quantitative methods of analysing political discourse will be illustrated, with particular reference to The USA and Great Britain. Specifically, the following questions will be presented:

Definition of political Language, broad and narrow definitions

Relationships between language and context.

The concept of linguistic register.

Basic grammatical categories for a functional analysis of a text.

Political lexis

The creation of a specialized corpus of political language

Electronic analysis of a corpus: collocations, keywords, clusters

Typology of political language

          Written texts

          - Solemn declarations;

          - constitutional texts;

          - Electoral platforms

       Spoken texts: a) presidential monologues:

        -Electoral speeches

        - inaugural speeches

        - addresses on the state of the Union

        Spoken texts: b) dialogical

         - Televised debates;

          - Discourse of deliberative assemblies

          - Press briefings


Bayley P. & Miller D. R. 1993, Texts and Contexts of the American Dream: A socio semiotic study of Political Language. Bologna: Pitagora

Bayley P. 2005, 'Analysing Language and Politics', MediAzioni, 1. http://mediazioni.sitlec.unibo.it/images/stories/PDF_folder/document-pdf/2005/articoli2005/4%20bayley.pdf

Morley J. & Bayley P. (eds), 2009, Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies on the Iraqi Conflict: Wording the war. London and New York: Routledge.

Bayley P & Williams G. 2012, European Identity: What the Media say. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Other resources

Heywood A. 2000, Key Concepts in Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Thompson G. 2004, Introducing Functional Grammar, London: Arnold.

Each student will be given a one-year license for the software WordSmith Tools 6.0

For the detailed programme of the oral exam, see the section on assessment

A dossier of documents will be available at the Student Registry office.

Teaching methods

The course consists of (1) traditional lectures, in English, and (2)  laboratory sessions to learn and practice how to conduct an electronic analysis of a corpus, and illustrations of the results od such analysis.

Assessment methods

Students will have to prepare a paper and take an oral exam. The choice of argument for the paper shall be agreed upon with the teacher, and can be either a qualitative analysis of a single text or a quantitative analysis of a specialized corpus. The paper is to be handed in via email 10 days before the exam date.

During the first four weeks of the course, the analytical instruments necessary for preparing the paper will be presented and explained; regular attendance during this phase is required

The evaluation of the oral exam will take into consideration various aspects such as the students' knowledge of the basic concepts dealt with during the course, their capacity for critical reasoning and their capacity to organize discursively an argument. The paper and the oral exam will each count for 50% of the final grade.

For the oral exam:

Basic reading

1. Bayley, P. 2005, Analysing Language and Politics, MediAzioni, 1. http://mediazioni.sitlec.unibo.it/images/stories/PDF_folder/document-pdf/2005/articoli2005/4%20bayley.pdf

2. Bayley, P and Miller D. R. (1993) Texts and Contexts of the American Dream: A socio semiotic study of Political Language. Bologna: Pitagora (in the library) Chapter 1 and Chapter 2)

Teaching tools

Projector, PC, internet, Wordsmith Tools 6.0

Office hours

See the website of Paul Bayley