Intersubjective Stance and Argumentation in Zimbabwean Parliamentary Discourse

Intersubjective Stance and Argumentation in Zimbabwean Parliamentary Discourse

Ernest Jakaza (Midlands State University, Zimbabwe & Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8094-2.ch005


Language use in the parliament is a matter of stance taking and appraisal of others and the self-invoking systems of socio-cultural value and dis/alignments. This chapter examines the language of evaluation and appraisal in parliamentary debates and speeches. In order to account for the language of evaluation and stance in the parliament, the study evokes the appraisal resource of engagement. The research draws its analysis from the key notions of appraisal and argumentation theories focusing on how parliamentarians position themselves dis/aligning with co-participants. The research examines how the continuous process of alignment impacts on argumentation in parliamentary debates. The research concludes that intersubjective stance is an argumentative activity that involves pro and contra argumentation with parliamentarians critically testing propositions submitted in the dialogic space.
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Background And Literature Review

Research into stance, appraisal and evaluation in discourse is on the increase. Variation in the use of the terms is, however, evident in literature (Du Bois, 2012; Hyland, 2005; Hunston & Su, 2017; Gozdz- Roszkowki & Hunston, 2016; Jakaza, 2016; Bednarek, 2015; White, 2012). The three notions which make reference to areas of language use are not synonymous but ‘share sufficient common ground’ (Gozdz- Roszkowki & Hunston, 2016, p. 131) and are used interchangeably. Evaluation is a process that is performed by a text which is both subjective and inter-subjective. Intersubjectivity is a process in which the evaluation serves to interact with the social other, the stance triangle. Stance is defined by Du Bois (2007, p. 163) as

a public act by a social actor, achieved dialogically through overt communicative means, of simultaneously evaluating objects, positioning of subjects (self and other), and aligning with other subjects, with respect to any salient dimension of the socio-cultural field.

The process of taking a stance involves the act of evaluation and appraisal. It is a social activity that involves participants in an interaction overtly appraising and arguing. This social interaction also encompasses dis/alignment processes. Alignment is the “act of calibrating the relationship between two stances, and by implication between two stancetakers (Du Bois, 2007, p. 144). The intersubjective process of alignment and disalignment is dialogical in nature. It reflects how interlocutors engage in discourse. Engagement, with its social perspective that is largely inspired by Bakhtin’s dialogism concept, is a cover all term for resources of intersubjective positioning (White, 2003). This chapter focuses on the interactive and verbal communicative activity that is functional. It examines the notion of engagement in the parliamentary social interactive activity.

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