ENGL489P - Special Topics in English Language: Language and Politics

Language and politics includes two distinct but closely related areas of language use. The first is the specialized language that has evolved for carrying on the business of national and state politics. This includes patterns of language formation and use (the common use of acronyms, for example), rhetorical choices (terms like “axis of evil” and what is often called “spin”), and the language of ritualized interactions between political entities such as the Congress and the President. The second category includes the kinds of discourse practices that people use to get work done within any sort of organization: the politics of a committee, for instance, or of a church or club. The study of this second type of political discourse includes examination of the ways in which language reflects and affects power relationships and group structure, the use of direct and indirect ways of communicating to achieve group goals, linguistic devices for signaling group membership and alignment. Students will have the opportunity to collect and analyze their own data. Requirements include three or four assignments/papers, a longer final paper, and a final exam.