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Questioning and Debating in UK and Ghanaian Parliamentary Discourse

Sarfo, Emmanuel (2016) Questioning and Debating in UK and Ghanaian Parliamentary Discourse. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This study examines UK and Ghanaian parliamentary questions and debates. Using a corpus-assisted discourse studies approach, it investigates questions from transitivity (process types) and debates from evaluatory perspectives. We explore similarities and differences between UK and Ghanaian parliamentary questions and find that, while question forms in the two parliaments are similar, there are significant differences as well. For example, indirect yes/no interrogatives in the Ghanaian data are a major difference between the two. Also, while Ghanaian MPs mark politeness directly by linguistic/word forms, such as the use of modal past, UK MPs mark politeness indirectly. The differences appear to be largely influenced by Ghanaian language interference and cultural differences. From a transitivity standpoint, in both parliaments, mental process interrogatives are the most frequent, followed by verbal, relational and then material processes. We therefore conclude that parliamentary politics can be represented through think, tell, evaluate and do (TTED) processes. Analyses of the debates show that MPs’ concern for the needs of the people becomes a focal point in the debates. Whereas government MPs think that people’s socio-economic conditions are better, opposition MPs think they are worse. This leads us to the conclusion that evaluation in parliamentary debates could be described as a rectangle (drawing on van Dijk’s ideological square), since there is disproportionateness between MPs’ praise and/or criticism for their governments’ policies, which reflects the MPs’ ideological biases. In describing the circumstances of the people, UK MPs use more complex intensifying adverbs and adjectives than their Ghanaian counterparts, a variation which we attribute to first and second language differences. There appears to be a disparity between MPs’ show of concern for the needs of the people and the public perception that MPs care only about their personal interests. MPs construct themselves as agents of the people, and tactically hide behind it their ideological biases.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: UK parliamentary discourse, Ghanaian parliamentary discourse, parliamentary discourse, questions, debates, corpus-assisted discourse studies, transitivity, process types, speech acts, evaluation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr E Sarfo
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2016 10:22
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2016 10:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13437

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