‘Motions of support’ and the communicative act of thanking in political discourse

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Using political discourses produced from below, i.e. by the common people in Cameroon rather than by prominent politicians, this chapter illustrates how the social act of thanking is realised in the written political discourse sub-genre called ‘motions of support’. These are letters read on radio or TV or published in newspapers, addressed to the president thanking him for a political favour or action deemed beneficial to the group writing the motion. In most of these open letters, groups of people extend thanks to the president for appointing a member of their community, ethnic group, town, or village into government. The overall aim of this chapter is to come up with a taxonomy for studying the structure, intent, and content of motions of support. In these letters, thanking is not a single speech act but a communicative speech event in which the act of thanking is realised with the help of other speech acts. The elaborate decorum in them could be attributed to indigenous Cameroonian languages and hereditary cultures in which the ruler is discursively praised and revered as all-powerful.


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