Power eliciting elements at the semantic-pragmatic interface

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Power, in this article, is to be understood as an instrument of force that is imposed purposely in order to influence, affect or persuade others. The question here is whether such power is due to aggressive expressions (lexical level) or to context-dependent aspects (discourse level) that become relevant when insulting persons via new media. I will distinguish between “cyberbullying” as an attempt to hurt a person’s feelings directly via personal SMS or email and “virtual character assassination attempts” that include third parties as an audience. Potential readers not directly involved are considered a constitutive eliciting element of power. It is assumed that their existence is even more important and effective (in terms of strengthening the perpetrator’s power) than aggressive language.


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