Linguistic Devices of Identity Representation in English Political Discourse with a Focus on Personal Pronouns: Power and Solidarity

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran


The present study was aimed at exploring the use of pronominal reference for identity representation in terms of power and solidarity in English political discourse. The investigation was based on a corpus of four political interviews and debates amounting 26,500 words. The analysis was both qualitative and quantitative. In the qualitative analysis, a discourse-analytic approach was used to find out the pronouns, their references and their identity load, and in the quantitative analysis, the distribution of different representations of identity were calculated. A nonparametric test, that is, Chi-Square was run in SPSS as the statistical operation needed for the current study. The analysis showed that most of the personal pronouns represented identity in the form of solidarity. The results also showed that political figures use I-pronoun and its variants to represent their identity in terms of power. The representation of identity in terms of power was also found to be correlated with the use of certain terms such as veto and active voice constructions. Furthermore, the results showed that when making claims, instead of giving pronominal reference to self, political figures use first-person plurals. In order to show solidarity, the speakers may also make use of discoursal proximity. Considering the important role that discourses play in constructing reality, it is important for CDA researchers to reveal sources of power, inequality and prejudice in discourses and interpret their hidden meanings. Pronominal choice and academic voice as linguistic constructions that are ideologically loaded need to be brought into the spotlight.


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