Volume 6, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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This work studies manipulative use of language that can be called “deliberate failure of communication”; I characterize this kind of manipulation and show that it can be found in the discourse of marketing experts and legal professionals. Relying on relevance theory, I show that manipulation of this kind takes advantage of what van Dijk calls the “context model” of the addressees. I exemplify two ways in which the context models of some of the discourse’s participants might be misused in order to manipulate them. One way is exemplified by a text from an advertisement, the other by a text from a criminal court file. I propose, finally, that the analysis supports van Dijk’s view that social, discursive, and epistemic inequalities reproduce one another in a kind of vicious circle. It suggests, in van Dijk’s terms, that manipulation by deliberate failure of communication is a discriminatory use of language employed by elite groups in order to reproduce their social power.


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