Edited by Pascal Fischer and Christoph Schubert
[Journal of Language and Politics 13:2] 2014
► pp. 289–312
Addressee orientation in political speeches
Tracing the dialogical ‘other’ in argumentative monologue
This article suggests that the addressees as the dialogical ‘other’ loom large in monological political speeches. However, political speeches are produced under conditions of addressee heterogeneity, i.e. the speakers do not actually know who they will be talking to. It will be argued that the addressees are nevertheless a crucial element in speakers’ context models, that speakers orientate towards imagined addressees and that certain aspects – what possible addressees may do, think or believe and that they are a part of an imagined community – are particularly relevant from the speakers’ point of view. An analysis of addressee orientation in political speeches aims at reconstructing speakers’ conceptualisations of possible addressees. The analysis reveals patterns of addressee orientation which suggest that the addressees are framed in terms of epistemic proximity, i.e. presumed nearness (agreement) or distance (disagreement) to the speakers. Both presumed agreement and disagreement will be discussed in terms of how the speakers aim to impose their default perspectives on the addressees. The analysis is based on examples from a substantial corpus of German chancellors’ political speeches from 1951–2001.