Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
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In this essay, I analyze the changes that were brought to the handwritten draft of the first political address that Ben Ali, the current president of Tunisia (then the newly appointed Prime Minister), delivered on November 7, 1987 across the airwaves, to announce the deposition of President Bourguiba (1956–1987), and to proclaim himself the successor of the deposed ‘old’ and ‘sick’ president. Through the description and linguistic analysis of some excerpts, I demonstrate how the linguistic changes capture the processes whereby the new ‘presidential’ voice and discursive authority are being crafted in front of our eyes and how the speaker is being initiated, linguistically and pragmatically, into how and when to appropriate “the colloquy of other voices” (Farmer 1995: 318), their discourses and words, and how and when to subtly speak their own voice and words while respecting the pragmatics of appropriateness and appropriation, i.e. norms of what can be said, what cannot be stated or acknowledged, and what can be appropriated and how and when it can be appropriated in order to find a balance between competing voices (Bakhtin 1986), words, and linguistic habituses (Bourdieu 1991). By the same token, the analysis explores the intricate interweaving of text and discourse regulation, valuation of forms of speaking and styles of speaking, and political ideology. The analysis of the linguistic changes offers fertile ground to conceptualize ways to bridge the gap between the micro-analysis of linguistic patterns and the macro-processes of social and political factors, knowing that “much of the meaning and hence communicative value that linguistic forms have for their speakers lies in the ‘indexical’ connections between the linguistic signs and the contextual factors of their use” (Kroskrity 2000:7).


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