Evaluation and Construction of Political Reality in the Speeches of Turkish Political Party Leaders: ‘Judgement’ and ‘Engagement’ Analysis
Demirtaş, Ayşe Dilek
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Based on the Appraisal Theory, this study attempts to explore the Judgement and Engagement strategies employed in Turkish political party group speeches. The strategies that political party leaders use in their evaluative language have a significant importance in demonstrating the ways in which they construct and express realities. ‘57’ group speeches given and shared with the public through the parties`websites on the dates between October 8th, 2013 and February 25th, 2014, during which many significant political issues considered as breaking points in Turkish politics occurred, formed the data of the study. In this sense, the weekly-held party group speeches of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (AKP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (CHP), Devlet Bahçeli (MHP), and Selahattin Demirtaş (BDP), who were the party leaders on the dates the speeches given were analysed. In order to analyse similar concepts and satisfy equal conditions among party leaders, 10 discourse areas were determined. These areas were ‘Gezi events’, ‘economy’, ‘democracy’, ‘justice’, ‘corruption’, ‘terror & Kurdish question’, ‘Middle East’, ‘30 March elections’, ‘education’, and ‘religion’. By analysing the linguistic devices employed by party leaders in their evaluations, lexico-grammatical categories of overt Judgemental expressions were identified first. Besides, as implicitly structured items are commonly used in political discourse, certain implicit Judgemental realisations were also detected, including metaphors and invoked judgements. Apart from these Judgemental expressions, Engagement resources were also analyzed in order to reveal how party leaders in Turkish Parliament express their evaluations dialogically. Findings of the study indicated certain structural categories for evaluative language within the examined party group speeches. There were also differences among leaders` evaluative expressions in their self-versus-other-based evaluations specifically. The analysis of linguistic resources showing Engagement has also indicated that leaders employ some linguistic devices more. It was realized that as the opposition parties` leaders do not have the same political power as the ruling party leader, they generally tend to use ‘dialogic expansion resources’ in their negative criticisms and share the responsibility of their propositions with their listeners. In their self evaluation processes, on the other hand, it was observed that they employ ‘dialogic contraction’ resources and express their subjectivity more by getting the responsibility of their evaluations. On the contrary, it came out that the ruling party leader prefers dialogic contraction resources more both in his ‘self-evaluations’ and ‘other-evaluations’. All these findings have great importance in demonstrating the influence of leaders` political power and ideological stance on their rhetorical strategies through which they make evaluations and construct reality.