Systematic Stylistic Analysis

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Attention to style in political discourse with a focus not on what political actors say, but on how they say it, can be found within the research traditions of ‘rhetorical criticism’ (RC) or ‘rhetorical stylistics’ (RS) on the one hand, and ‘critical discourse analysis’ (CDA) on the other hand. The tradition of CDA has been criticized for being ‘ad hoc’: analyses often fail to clarify why on the linguistic level some linguistic means are analysed, and others not. Within both frameworks of RC/RS and CDA, it has been suggested to use a checklist as a methodological tool in stylistic analysis but this has barely been put into practice. In this chapter I discuss what the use of a checklist can yield for stylistic analysis of political discourse and illustrate this with a detailed stylistic analysis of a speech held by the Dutch controversial politician, Geert Wilders.


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