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Title: The polite voice of the European Union: a corpus-based study of politeness and identity formation in EU public discourse
Author: Magistro, Elena
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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In this dissertation, I investigate the role of linguistic politeness in the discursive construction of the European identity. More precisely, I explore how politeness is used in the discourse of the European Union (EU) and what influence it can have on European-identity formation in a transnational community that is generally deemed to consist of national-identity bearers. It seems that relevant research is needed on the pragmatics of EU discourse - especially on linguistic politeness - in relation to the emergence of the European identity. This dissertation is meant to address this research gap and advance knowledge in the field of institutional communication. My analysis focuses specifically on strategies of politeness featured in written informative booklets authored by the EU and intended for wide circulation among the general public. I adopt the theoretical and taxonomical framework postulated by anthropologists Brown and Levinson (1987). However, for the purpose of this study, I make an essential change to their model, re- conceptualising 'social face' as 'national face'. This alternative reading of 'face' gives a pragmatic dimension to the notion of national identity and sheds light on the extent to which EU citizens' national face is discursively addressed by the institution. The analysis reveals a consistent use of positive politeness to convey closeness and establish an appealing climate of cooperative belonging. Negative politeness, on the other hand, is mostly exploited to minimise the perception of EU intrusion into the national territory. The scope of this study, however, extends beyond a face-boosting/face-saving reading of politeness and embraces the assumption that discourse is socially performative - as postulated by critical discourse analysts (CDA). Hence, considering the findings against a larger social background, I .argue that EU politeness can represent a discursive drive to ultimately negotiate identity and social change in EU society. 3
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available