Political speech acts in contrast: The case of calls to condemn in news interviews

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This study takes a contrastive pragmatics approach to examine the ethical and moral discourses constructed around calls to condemn realized by journalists in two political linguacultures: Israel and the US. By studying the contents and the contexts within which Israeli and American news interviewers formulated 215 variations of do you condemn questions between 2006 and 2018, and the negotiations that followed interviewees' answers, the study aims to identify moral and ethical similarities and differences in the two political linguacultures. At the moral level, the study identified variations in the object of the calls. News interviewers in both linguacultures were mainly concerned with disloyalty to the nation, threats to national security, and incivility in public discourse. Interviewers from the two political linguacultures differed in their emphasis on moral issues: Americans framed incivility as the most imminent threat to society, while Israelis emphasized national security and loyalty. At the ethical level, American interviewers showed greater tolerance to non-mainstream views. Israeli interviewers tended to put greater pressure on their interviewees to condemn by formulating more follow-up questions, thus expressing less tolerance for alternative views. I conclude by discussing the benefits of studying political speech acts in contrast.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)203-218
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Broadcast talk
  • Condemnations
  • Contrastive political pragmatics
  • Political discourse
  • Political speech acts


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