Speaking to Europe

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This article examines the rhetorical language and behaviour of Prime Minister Tony Blair in a complex communication situation in which he speaks not only to the physically present audience in the European Parliament, but simultaneously to different countries and groups in Europe. It argues that theoretically the fragmentation and complexity of contemporary society and communication require a triangular research approach. We need a study of political discourse that not only deals with speaker and text, but also with reception. Methodologically, such an approach is illustrated through a combination of a textual-contextual analysis with an investigation of the press coverage in five countries. Empirically, we learn that the press coverage focuses on both the narrative of the speaker and the response within the Parliament, but that it is framed differently in each country. We also learn that complex circumstances do not necessarily lead to complex language use.


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