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Chiara Degano



Quaderni di Scienze del Linguaggio

UniverSit iULM


Libera Universit di Lingue e Comunicazione

Quaderni di Scienze del Linguaggio Collana diretta da Mario Negri Comitato scientifico: Michael Crawford (School of Advanced Study, University of London) Jos Luis Garca Ramn (Universitt zu Kln) Giuliana Garzone (Universit degli Studi di Milano) Nunzio La Fauci (Universitt Zrich) Diego Poli (Universit degli Studi di Macerata) Michele Prandi (Universit degli Studi di Genova) Edgar Radtke (Universitt Heidelberg) Giovanna Rocca (Universit IULM, Milano) Francesca Santulli (Universit IULM, Milano) Segreteria: Manuela Anelli La collana, originariamente destinata ad accogliere contributi maturati allinterno dellIstituto di Scienze del Linguaggio dellUniversit IULM, nel corso del tempo ha assunto una nuova fisionomia parallelamente allevoluzione delle strutture didattiche e di ricerca dellAteneo, aprendosi a contributi di studiosi provenienti da sedi diverse e diversificando altres i temi e gli obiettivi dei volumi. Le questioni affrontate coinvolgono, come poli privilegiati, da una parte le scienze del linguaggio, nella loro complessit, dallaltra quelle dellantichit, pur viste dalla prospettiva muovente dalla centralit della lingua. Esse rispecchiano lintento di dare spazio tanto alla ricerca storica quanto allanalisi sincronica, con contributi ora specialistici ora pi decisamente divulgativi, per rispondere da un lato ai bisogni della didattica e dallaltro allesigenza di sviluppare e diffondere la riflessione critica che impegna ormai da anni diverse generazioni di ricercatori. I volumi pubblicati nella collana sono sottoposti a un processo di peer review che ne attesta la validit scientifica.

Chiara Degano

DiSCoUrSe anaLySiS, argUMentation theory anD Corpora

An Integrated Approach

Milano 2012

2012 Arcipelago Edizioni Via G.B. Pergolesi 12 20090 Trezzano su Naviglio (Milano)

Prima edizione: ottobre 2012

ISBN 978-88-7695-479-5 Tutti i diritti riservati

Ristampe: 7 6 2018 2017

5 2016

4 2015

3 2014

2 2013

1 2012

vietata la riproduzione, anche parziale, con qualsiasi mezzo effettuata, compresa la fotocopia, anche ad uso interno o didattico, non autorizzata.


Chapter 1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 2 Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools . . . Chapter 3 Strategic manoeuvring in the confrontation and opening stage of the critical discussion: adaptation to the audience in UK TV electoral debates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 4 Topical selection in TV prime ministerial debates: a corpus-based perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 5 Selling US National Security Strategy: a corpus-driven analysis of strategic manoeuvring . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 6 Reshaping political space: negotiating premises in US reports on National Security Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 7 Concluding remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bibliographic References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Referees Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9 17




147 175 181 195

Chapter 1


this book draws together argumentation theory and discourse analysis, two disciplines with good prospects for joint research and few occasions for contact. resting on the assumption that the agendas of the two disciplines share a substantial common ground, the volume sets the stage for an integration of argumentation theory, mainly in the form of the pragmadialectical approach, and discourse analysis, both in its traditionally qualitative forms and in the less traditional, but now quite well established, corpus-assisted variety. In this way the possibility is explored of applying quantitative approaches to the analysis of large quantities of argumentative discourse. At a time when multidisciplinarity is a much cherished value in the academic community, argumentation theory risks being somewhat confined within the niche of argumentation scholars and germane disciplines like philosophy and logic. this depends partly on the fact that the modern revival of interest for the topic originally stemmed from philosophers, most notably Perelman and olbrechts-tyteca and toulmin even though their work was not immediately well-received in their parent disciplines and partly on the fact that scholars approaching argumentation from other disciplines may feel discouraged by the long-standing tradition going back to classical authors of the like of Aristotle, and the wealth of relevant knowledge developed since then.


discourse Analysis, Argumentation theory and corpora

on the other hand, discourse analysis is inherently interdisciplinary, to the point that in some cases research grounded in such a frame bends too eagerly towards neighbouring disciplines like social sciences, or semiotics, losing in fact specificity. In an attempt to strike a balance between the benefits of cross-disciplinary contamination and the needs of scientific rigour, this book approaches argumentation theory from the perspective of a linguist who has discourse analysis as a point of departure, maintaining the text as a discursive realization at the centre of enquiry. of all human activities performed discursively, argumentation is one of the most fascinating, as by means of appeals to reasonableness one party engages in the attempt of convincing another of something that is controversial, with the result of the dispute being determined mainly by the discursive abilities of the participants. to this end, a complex nexus of factors come into play, pertaining to all the dimensions of discourse: the context in which a communicative event takes place, the participants roles and purposes, the conventions at work in the specific field of activity (for example, generic conventions or rules determining which paths of reasoning are considered acceptable), the coherence of reasoning itself, and finally the linguistic or, more in general, semiotic stuff of which argumentative moves are made, i.e. the text proper. Furthermore, in its recent developments argumentation theory and especially the pragmadialectical approach, which is among the most influential and systematic contemporary perspectives includes within its theoretical scope also rhetorical aspects, thus further extending the common ground between argumentation theory and discourse analysis. By pursuing the attempt of bridging the gap between logic (concerned with the correctness of reasoning) and rhetoric (geared to achieving effectiveness), the pragmadialectical approach allows discourse analysts to apply to argumentative discourse categories that are

1. | Introduction


part of their methodological background, generally falling under the rubric of interpersonal function (Halliday 1994), such as the construction of the speakers and the receivers identity, but also forms of evaluation (Hunston/thompson 2001), which reflect the stance of the speaker and at the same time position the audience. the volume collects studies of political discourse an ideal ground for testing the validity of the model thanks to its eminently argumentative nature associated with a highly sophisticated rhetorical drive in which argumentative discourse is analysed combining insights from discourse analysis and argumentation theory. Apart from the first chapter, which has an essentially theoretical focus, and the conclusion, the chapters of this book were originally conceived as self-standing studies but are all part of a research programme pursued by the author over several years, pivoting on the combination of discourse analysis and argumentation theory. thus they fit into an overall design and have been partly re-elaborated to guarantee coherence and readability. the analysis contributes to confirming the authors conviction that the benefit of an integrated approach to argumentation is twofold: on the one hand, argumentation theory provides discourse analysts with a methodological scaffolding capable of accounting for the macro-categories of argumentation, thus helping identify and interpret the participants moves against a model (what is called a hermeneutic function); on the other hand, discourse analysis can enhance argumentation theorys grasp of real-life argumentative discourse, thus contributing to testing the theory and possibly suggesting adjustments to it, while offering categories for the analysis of more fine-grained discursive devices employed by the parties to enhance the cogency and effectiveness of their reasoning. chapter 2 presents the rationale for the project, making the case for the integration of argumentation theory and discourse


discourse Analysis, Argumentation theory and corpora

analysis, drawing also a sketch of the background literature, and presenting methodological tools which will constitute a general frame of reference for the subsequent chapters. the chapter also contains a synthetic recapitulation of the pragmadialectical approach in its extended form, which includes the notion of strategic manoeuvring (i.e. the part of the theory that accounts for the rhetorical component of argumentation). Special attention is devoted to the four-stage model of a typical argumentative dialogue, which in pragmadialectics is called critical discussion (confrontation stage, opening stage, argumentation stage, and conclusion), illustrating, by means of original real-life examples, how strategic manoeuvring takes place at each stage. the point of introducing the pragmadialectical model is to provide the reader with a global understanding of it, which may then be relied on in the subsequent chapters, where reference is made to its categories. At the same time, such an overview makes it possible to assume reference to a comprehensive frame of analysis, even when individual aspects of it are dealt with. Although single chapters may address specific traits of argumentative discourse, it is worth considering that these are part of a broader communicative act whose various components are necessarily interrelated, even though they are not all in the foreground. underlying this perspective is the conviction that a holistic approach, as opposed to a narrower focus on peripheral details disconnected from the bigger picture, serves analytic efforts better. the following two chapters tackle squarely the notion of strategic manoeuvring applying it to the analysis of the prime ministerial debates held in the united Kingdom for the first time on the occasion of the 2010 general elections. In particular, chapter 3 deals with discursive devices used to adapt the message to the audience, with special regard for the confrontation and opening stage of the critical discussion involving candidates. If audience expectations are always an issue from a

1. | Introduction


rhetorical perspective, in tV debates this is all the more relevant, as the initiators of each round of the debate are members of the audience, who open it with a question for the candidates. Such questions are never neutral, as they entail the point of view of the questioner as to what is desirable or undesirable, a point of view which might not coincide with the vision of the candidate and his party. In his reply the candidate cannot disregard the projection of values implied in the question, lest he risk alienating the support of all those viewers who agree with the questioner. At the same time, in some cases, committing to the view expressed by the questioner would pose an issue of inconsistency with party programmes or established views. In light of the above, strategic manoeuvring promises to be particularly demanding and hence worth analysing as an extreme case of adaptation to the audience. chapter 4 extends the analysis of strategic manoeuvring in the uK electoral debates with a focus on the argumentation stage and particularly on the related aspect of topical selection. these two chapters dovetail also from a methodological point of view, with chapter 3 resting on a qualitative approach, setting the context for the analysis of the debate, and chapter 4 combining a qualitative and a quantitative perspective. Starting from insights gained incidentally during the close-reading analysis required for chapter 3, recurrent argument schemes characterizing each leaders discourse have been tentatively identified. confirmation to the hypotheses thus formulated is sought via quantitative analysis, thereby testing as well the viability of a synergy between argumentation theory and corpus linguistics. the chapters aim is not so much to reach conclusive results on the argumentative preferences of each candidate, as rather to raise awareness on the opportunity, but also the limits, of applying corpus linguistics tools to the study of argument schemes in large quantities of argumentative discourse.


discourse Analysis, Argumentation theory and corpora

chapters 5 and 6 deal with a different genre in political discourse, uS National Security Strategy reports, integrating qualitative and corpus-based perspectives. these are documents which, unlike debates, are not so openly argumentative, combining an expository and a persuasive component, as they are meant to lay before the congress the administrations wideranging plans for security, addressing at the same time internal audience and foreign interlocutors on the foreign policy direction that the main world power intends to pursue. Such an informative aim is accompanied by a persuasive intent, though, geared towards gaining and maintaining domestic support. From a methodological point of view, these chapters are complementary to the previous two, adopting a corpus-driven approach. If in chapters 3 and 4 a qualitative analysis was a preliminary step for the formulation of hypotheses to be tested against the corpus, here quantitative investigation precedes qualitative analysis, providing a convenient reliable ground of comparison for nSS reports produced under different Administrations. In particular chapter 5 compares strategic manoeuvring in the reports issued under obamas and Bushs administration, employing keywords, collocations and frequency lists to examine topical selection, thus partially shedding light also on strategies of adaptation to the audience. Presentational choices, on the other hand, are addressed from a qualitative perspective which makes it possible to consider levels of textuality beyond the word or phrase. In this way a polarization is observed in the two reports as far as text structure is concerned, with a prevalence of the expository component in Bushs administration nSS and of argumentation in obamas, a difference that can be explained in terms of recourse to overt vs covert argumentation strategies. chapter 6 investigates nSS reports from the point of view of argumentation premises, an element touched on only tan-

1. | Introduction


gentially in the previous chapters. Adopting a short-term diachronic perspective, which embraces the last three Presidencies, this final study focuses on the preliminary highly controversial definition (or redefinition) of the notion of security as a premise for argumentation proper in the nSS reports. At the heart of the controversy lies the representation of space relations, along the domestic/foreign dimension, as a cognitive but also ideological category which plays a crucial role in forming judgements on security policies, in a country where the Myth of Exceptionalism keeps calling the traditional internal/external dichotomy into question. Although for the sake of coherence only political discourse has been taken into consideration, the frame of analysis proposed in this work has a broader application potential. As part of the same research interest that informs this book, the author has explored the possibility of integrating discourse analysis and argumentation theory in other contexts, including International commercial Arbitration (degano 2010, 2012), corporate external communication (catenaccio/degano 2011) and the Webs multimodal environment (degano forth.a).

Chapter 2

SeTTing The STage

Theoretical frame and methodological tools

1. argumenTaTion, DiScourSe STuDieS anD corpuS linguiSTicS The study of argumentation is unduly neglected in the realm of discourse studies and linguistics, at least as far as english language scholarship is concerned. With the exception of a practical interest in the teaching of argumentative writing and a few studies touching on it marginally in the frame of english for Special purposes, little research exists with an argumentative focus in linguistics literature, nor are panels on argumentative discourse frequently scheduled in linguistic conferences. This is quite surprising as the points of contact between argumentation theory and discourse studies are of no little consequence. First and foremost in the deliberative process proper of argumentative activities truth, or any form of agreement, is socially constructed and therefore linguistically mediated.1
1 Drawing on the classical dichotomy argumentation vs demonstration, it is in the former that language plays a crucial role, while in demonstration, the decisive role rests with facts, leaving for language only an ancillary role. This dichotomy reflects the traditionally accepted


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

This is very much in tune with the basic assumption of the constructionist conception of language, shared by an important part of discourse studies, according to which language does not simply reflect reality, but contributes to forging it: the same object or event named differently will lead to different representations of it, with different consequences in language-external reality.2 Secondly, some approaches to the theory of argumentation are rooted in a discourse analytic frame, as is the case of pragmadialectics, which originates from normative pragmatics, and conceives of argumentation in terms of speech acts, an all too familiar notion to linguists. a further element of contact lies in the importance given to the influence of external factors, like purpose and context, on communicative events in both discourse analysis and some branches of argumentation studies. linguistic traditions that see formal aspects of utterances as the result of factors cognitive, functional or pragmatic residing beyond the language itself, which impose restrictions on the number of choices available to the speaker, include text grammar (Werlich 1983), functional linguistics (halliday 1994) and genre-based approaches to the study of language for special purposes (Swales 1990, 2004; Bhatia 1993, 2004). as for argumentation theory, a wellestablished concern is for how environmental conditions (e.g. the affordances of a Web discussion forum, as discussed in
opposition between logic, with its concern for truth and necessity whereby all that is only plausible should be disregarded as false, and rhetoric, whose realm is the non-compulsive, the credible, the plausible (perelman/olbrectsTyteca 1969, 1-4). 2 examples to the point are the most cited difference between freedom fighter and terrorist, used with regard to similar practices to which different ideological connotations are attached, or the extreme case of the denomination chosen for the attacks of September 11: had they been defined an act of war (as opposed to an act of terrorism), insurances would have not refunded the damages (gobo 2008).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


lewinsky 2010) influence argumentative practices, as is the case of studies addressing design issues (aakhus/Jackson 2005). a similar concern is at the basis of the recent pragmadialectical interest for the analysis of argumentation in different institutional contexts (van eemeren 2009). There are also differences between discourse analysis and argumentation theory, especially as far as their scope is concerned. Discourse analysis aims to devise theories of language use which account for the interaction of formal and functional aspects or in other words, of code and context , discourse itself being viewed as the result of several extra linguistic forces. Be it in public or private communication, people who produce utterances have social, cultural and personal identities, knowledge, beliefs, goals and wants, and interact with one another in various socially and culturally defined situations (Schiffrin 1994: 363). The scope of discourse analysis, therefore, is mainly descriptive. argumentation theory, on its part, is primarily normative, as it aims at giving a fair evaluation of argumentative discourse, with the ethical aim of improving the way people argue. in so doing, it pursues the objective of fostering one of the most fundamental practices in democratic societies, viewing appeals to reasonableness as the only possible alternative to the use of force. Such a difference, however, is not irreconcilable, in line of principle. While discourse analysis does not generally take a normative stand, one of its threads, critical discourse analysis has an approach that can be considered ethical, aiming to shed light on how the use of language contributes to creating or maintaining social differences (cf. for example van Dijk [1991] on immigration discourse in the press) or how dominant ideologies inconspicuously colonise fields of social activity, imposing on them exogenous values which end up distorting their original character (cf. e.g. Fairclough on the marketisation of education discourse [1993]). one of the basic assumptions of


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

critical discourse analysis is that by analysing discourse, it is possible to identify the mechanisms through which certain representations of reality achieve and maintain a dominant position in society, failing to meet the critical scrutiny of public opinion. and if citizens are made aware of such mechanisms, abuses of discourse by the elites can be resisted and challenged, with a beneficial effect for our democratic societies. it is precisely in this ethically/societally-oriented drive that critical discourse analysis and argumentation theory have a common ground, and it is not surprising that they have recently found a convergence in the work of Fairclough and Fairclough (2012) on political discourse, as well as in agars more focalized article on topoi and critical discourse analysis (2010). as for this book, even though it does not take a normative approach to argumentation the reader will not find evaluations of arguments or indications on how people should argue whatsoever , the project rests on the assumption that the analysis of argumentative discourse can contribute to shedding light on how argumentation is enacted in (institutional) discourse, a precondition to raise citizens awareness on how argumentation works, providing them with critical (here in the sense of analytical) tools to take an informed position towards attempts of persuasion that are addressed to them. in light of the assumptions above, this book argues in favour of a systematic integration of discourse studies and argumentation, presenting a series of studies that find their methodological framework in the synergy of these two disciplines. Furthermore, the qualitative approach of discourse analysis will be complemented with the quantitative drive of corpus linguistics, with a view to exploring the possibility of putting corpora methodology to use for the study of argumentation. corpora are collections of texts built according to external criteria set by the researcher on the basis of research requirements, which are taken to be representative of the type of language (or discourse) one wishes to investigate. They are stored

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


in electronic format and are interrogated by means of dedicated programmes functioning on a statistical basis. Traditionally corpus linguistics has been employed to describe language at the lexical and grammatical level, with a view to producing dictionaries and grammar books that reflect real language usage, as opposed to formalized consolidated descriptions that end up being far from authentic use (mcenery/Wilson 1996). parallel to this application, however, another approach has emerged, which integrates corpus linguistics tools with discourse analysis, following in the British tradition of Text analysis established by Firth (1957), and exerting its influence on scholars like halliday (1994) and Sinclair (1991, 2004).3 according to this view of linguistics, language phenomena consisting of the inseparable unity of form and meaning have to be investigated in context, drawing insights from large quantities of authentic, attested data, and not from the intuition of the native speaker, as generative grammar would have it (chomsky 1957, 1965). Furthermore, due to the inseparability of form and meaning, the object of investigation should be texts, and not isolated sentences, considering them also from the viewpoint of their interrelation with other texts in a given culture. although corpus linguistics per se does not consider texts in their entirety it is in fact disruptive of textual linearity, functioning principally at the local level of words, or words in their immediate co-text its tools can be bent towards text (and discourse) analysis, provided that the results of corpus search are integrated with close-reading qualitative analysis. in this way the micro and macro levels of discourse, accounted for respectively by corpus and qualitative analysis, can be profitably put in mutual relation. at the same time, a corpus-based approach allows to look at discursive phenomena across large quantities of texts, thus shedding light on recurrent features,

For a thorough treatment, cf. Stubbs (1996: 22-50).


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

trends, or other aspects which can be appreciated only by looking beyond single texts. corpus-based text analysis was first pursued in a book-length project by Stubbs (1996), followed by numerous scholars (cf. among others, partington et. al. 2004, garzone/Santulli 2004, Baker 2006, Degano 2008).4 in recent times, seminal attempts have been made at extending corpus-based methodology to the study of argumentation in the field of discourse analysis (reed 2006, Degano 2007, agar 2007, ohalloran/coffin 2004, mochales/ieven 2009, ohalloran 2009, mazzi 2007b), not failing to attract criticism by argumentation theorists (rigotti/rocci 2005). Scepticism is mainly due to the fact that while corpora allow to retrieve patterns, i.e. recurrent lexico-grammatical features, they divert attention from the text as a whole, to the detriment of those aspects of meaning which can only be grasped in their broader textual and contextual dimension. This is a real risk unless a complementing qualitative perspective is added. The essays collected in this book try to strike a balance between quantitative and qualitative analysis, considering them two poles of a methodological continuum, which offers the researcher the possibility of shifting emphasis on either of the two poles, depending on specific research purposes. 2. raTionale For The inTegraTion oF DiScourSe analySiS anD
argumenTaTion Theory

Why is a synergy between discourse analysis and argumentation theory desirable? in spite of their differences, the multifarious approaches to the analysis of discourse (cf. Schiffrin et
4 For a comprehensive overview of the anglo-Saxon scenario see Flowerdew (2011) and for a broader outlook see the proceedings of the 2011 Discourse Analysis and Corpus Linguistics conference organised by the university of Birmingham.

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


al. 2001, alba-Juez 2009: 15) all engage with the analysis of language in use,5 which cannot then be severed from the purposes or functions which [linguistic] forms are designed to serve in human affairs (Brown/yule 1983: 1). When such purposes come down to an attempt at persuading someone by appealing to their reasonableness, integrating the discourse analytical perspective with a theory of argumentation can add to the thoroughness of analysis. an explicit call in such a direction has come also from argumentation scholar van rees (2007), who has made the case for joining argumentation theory and discourse analytical perspectives, in the following terms: discourse analysis can provide argumentation theory with empirical data as to how argumentative discourse is organized and single arguments are produced and received by the participants, casting light also on how and why the normative ideal goes awry in argumentative practice (van rees 2007: 1462). Besides, discourse analysis can offer insights about how people comply with the standards of reasonableness in real-life argumentation. on the other hand, argumentation theory allows discourse analysts to make their investigation of argumentative discourse more systematic, indicating them what they should be looking for in the apparent chaos of real argumentation, and offering a theoretical apparatus that helps them describe and interpret phenomena which intuitively draw their attention, and in which their findings can be accommodated.

The expression discourse analysis was introduced by harris (1952), a formalist, who designated by it the next level in language description above the sentence. Subsequently, this notion of discourse was challenged (chafe 1980) on the ground that utterances do not necessarily come as syntactically complete sentences, but the term spread to other approaches within the field of linguistics. Functionalists (e.g. Fairclough 1989) conceive discourse not as one level of meaning making, but as an encompassing concept referred to the use of language in pursuance of communicative goals (alba-Juez 2009: 13).


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

3. DiScourSe analySiS anD argumenTaTion Theory: BackgrounD contemporary approaches to the study of argumentation can be seen as falling under three general traditions: logic, dialectic and rhetoric (cf. Zarefsky 2006: 399 and ff.). logic focuses on the formal validity of arguments (i.e. arguments are evaluated on the ground of their logical soundness), and is mostly unconcerned with real-life argumentation. Dialectic conceives of argumentation as a dialogic practice, in which two parties consensually decide to solve a difference of opinion by means of critical questioning of each others arguments, and the validity of arguments derives from mutual agreement. in other words, arguments are accepted by the other party if they resist critical questioning, but as is quite evident, such conditions are only rarely met in ordinary argumentative practices, and the approach remains then normatively oriented. rhetoric is mainly concerned with persuasion of an audience, irrespectively of any normative concern, thus privileging a descriptive perspective. of the three approaches, rhetoric is the one that understandably offers more points of contact between argumentation theory and discourse analysis: as stated earlier, like rhetoric, discourse analysis by and large takes a descriptive approach (with the exception of critical discourse analysis) and both are primarily concerned with usage as opposed to normative models. recent developments in dialectical approaches to argumentation theory, aimed at integrating a rhetorical component (cf. van eemeren/houtlosser 2002, van eemeren 2010), promise to offer as many points of contact, while adopting at the same time a more systematic approach to the analysis of argumentative discourse. among works which have already explored the possibility of a synergy between the study of argumentation and discourse analysis, special mention must be made of those in the French tradition. resting on a broad conception of it, the French scholars think that argumentation is pervasively present in discourse

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


in general, being not limited to a set of declaredly argumentative genres (plantin 1996: 18, amossy/koren 2004, amossy 2006, 2009), and on this ground argumentation is given pride of place in discourse analysis. in the words of antelmi and Santulli (2012: 97),
it is however possible to avoid a sharp distinction between argumentative and non-argumentative texts, and to adopt the hypothesis of gradual differentiation, so that there exist prototypical argumentative genres of discourse (deliberative, judicial, etc), which have an explicit persuasive goal, but there are also less evident forms of argumentation, which do not imply the adoption of explicit and/or stringent schemes.

incidentally, such a hypothesis is not necessarily in contrast with the pragma-dialectical approach, where the issue of whether a text should be considered argumentative or not is resolved by adopting the strategy of the maximally argumentative interpretation (van eemeren et al. 2002: 43). Whenever in doubt that an utterance might be simply a remark or an explanation, if there is a realistic option that it might in fact have an argumentative function, then it can legitimately be taken as argumentative. The French scholars main point, however, is that argumentation should not be placed outside the discipline of discourse analysis (no more, lets say, than expository or descriptive text forms should), to constitute a field of its own. a similar attitude seems to underlie the works of scholars who, without taking explicit position on this contention, do not actually draw a rigid divide between argumentation and discourse analysis. examples to the point are evangelistis work on clause relations in argumentative texts (1989) and on arguments as frames (1990), partingtons book-length study of the linguistic aspects of political arguments (2003), or again the research of linguists who, drawing on the anglosaxon tradition of genre analysis (Swales 1990; Bhatia 1993, 2004), have investigated forms of specialized discourse characterized by a


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

strong argumentative component. Within such a tradition, recent studies with a focus on argumentative discourse have been carried out with special regard for legal texts (Stati 1998, Santulli 2006, 2008, antelmi/Santulli 2009, mazzi 2007a, 2007b 2010; Sala 2008, 2012, forth., garzone 2012) and academic discourse (Silver 2006, Bondi/Diani 2008, mazzi/Bondi 2009, mazzi 2012). Besides these studies with a focus on openly argumentative genres, another strand of research has addressed company disclosures on corporate Social responsibility from an argumentative perspective, by virtue of the extent of controversy inherent in it. corporations engagement in argumentative activity with regard to their social responsibility is indeed manifold: they make the case for cSr before investors (catenaccio 2011), and represent themselves as socially responsible in the face of implicit or explicit allegations to the contrary (Degano 2009, catenaccio/Degano 2011). incidentally, a peculiarity of most of these studies is the combination of a qualitative and quantitative perspectives, putting the methodological tools of corpus linguistics to use. as for argumentation scholars combining an argumentative and a discourse analytical perspective, van rees (1995) shows that the contributions to a critical discussion aim at resolving a difference of opinion, while at the same time responding to politeness concerns of face preservation (goffman 1955, 1959; Brown/levinson 1987), where face is a notion drawn from pragmatics, a fundamental discipline within the realm of linguistics. The same author published an article (2007) opening a special issue of the Journal of Pragmatics on argumentation in television talk shows, in which she reflects on the relationship between argumentation theory and discourse analysis, concluding that an integrated perspective is a reciprocal necessity.

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


4. conTemporary approacheS To argumenTaTion So far, reference has been made to argumentation theory in general. however, like all scientific paradigms, also argumentation theory is far from being monolithic. Since the end of 1950s, when Toulmin (1969) on the one hand and perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca (1958/1969) on the other started modern rhetoric, a wealth of approaches have developed. a review of the modern approaches to argumentation theory is well beyond the reach of this work as well as the authors competence, considering that much of the work on argumentation is carried out in philosophical disciplines. For a booklength review one can see van eemeren et al. (1996). Suffice here to mention by large strokes some among the most influential contemporary approaches6 to the study of argumentation. These include formal (e.g. krabbe 1985, krabbe/Walton 2011) and semi-formal perspectives (among others, Walton 1984, van eemeren et al. 2007); informal logic (cf. Walton et al. 2008); the american communication and rhetorical study tradition, with its manifold branches (among which Zarefskys work on political discourse, 2006, 2007); the linguistic approach, with one fulcrum in the works of Francebased scholars like carel (1992), carel/Ducrot (1999), plantin (1996, 1999, 2004), amossy (2006) and another in the luganobased group coordinated by rigotti (e.g. 2005, rigotti et al. 2006), and the amsterdam-based pragma-dialectical school (see further sections). This book draws in particular on the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation, which will supply analytical and heuristic
This synthetic recapitulation of contemporary approaches draws on van eemerens keynote speech argumentation Theory revisited: Some major Developments in the past Two Decades, delivered at the Biennial Wake Forest university conference Argumentation 2012, held in Venice (25-28 June).


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

categories through which the disorderly, countless variables of authentic persuasive discourse can be made sense of in the light of a meaningful interpretative grid. among contemporary approaches to the study of argumentation, pragmadialectics is the one which presents greater affinity with discourse analysis, for two main reasons. First, differently from formal approaches, it applies theory to real-life uses of argumentation, and secondly, partly as an inevitable consequence of the former, aims to reconcile the logic component of argumentation with rhetorical aspects, holding that in principle the parties involved in argumentative discourse will pursue effectiveness while maintaining dialectical standards of reasonableness (van eemeren 2009: 5), an effort subsumed under the label of strategic manoeuvring (van eemeren/houtlosser 2002, 2006). The following sections will sketch the elements of the pragma-dialectical approach which will be brought to bear in the next chapters of the book. 5. The pragma-DialecTical approach The pragma-dialectical approach to argumentation theory was developed in amsterdam by van eemeren and grotendorst (1984, 1992, 2004) with the aim of providing a comprehensive theory of argumentation, grounded in a solid theoretical framework, while at the same time capable of accounting for real argumentative practice. The pragmatic component comes from normative pragmatics, a kind of empirical discourse analysis organized by normative theory (Jackson 1998: 187), and rests on the rationale that the analysis of any communication process begins with an idealized model of the discourse that can be compared with actual practices. The purpose of such a comparison is twofold: it allows the researcher to test the theoretical model against practice, possibly leading to adjustments in the theory, but at the same time it helps identify possible

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


faults in actual contexts of practice that prevent the achievement of the communicative goal (ibidem). normative pragmatics (cf. van eemeren 1990, Jackson 1998) is an approach to discourse analysis characterized by a combination of descriptive and prescriptive goals. The descriptive drive aims at studying language use in communication (hence the pragmatic element), while the prescriptive drive sets out a normative model of how a specific form of discourse should ideally be realized, which allows analysts to assess the practice against a norm, with a view to spotting possible obstacles to the achievement of the communicative purpose in a specific context, as a prerequisite for removing them, thus eventually improving the practice. in pursuance of such an ambitious programme, the pragmadialectical approach was devised as a complex research project, which includes several components (van eemeren/grotendorst 2004: 9-41). a philosophical component provides the basis for a suitable theory of reasonableness, which in the pragma-dialectical approach acquires a procedural meaning: an exchange of views in argumentation is reasonable if it complies with the rules of a problem-solving discussion procedure. a theoretical component provides a model for such a problem-solving discussion procedure, namely the pragma-dialectical model of a critical discussion. The latter refers to an argumentative exchange of speech acts which is fully aimed at resolving a difference of opinion in a reasonable manner (van eemeren 2011: 30). This is pragmatic in the sense that the moves the critical discussion consists of have the form of speech acts7 with ref-

Drawing on Searles typology (1979: 1-29) van eemeren (2010: 11) mentions the following types of speech acts as relevant in a critical discussion: assertive, commissive, directive and usage declarative speech acts, (the latter of which, not present in Searles repertoire, was introduced by ven eemeren and grotendorst 1984: 109-110).


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

erence to Searles (1969) and grices (1989) theory of speech acts and dialectical as it provides the rules for systematically conducting such a critical discussion by means of moves and counter-moves. according to the pragma-dialectical-model, a critical discussion ideally proceeds through four stages (which may be realized explicitly or implicitly) confrontation, opening, argumentation and conclusion, which will be discussed more in details later on in this chapter. Furthermore, a set of ten procedural rules is devised which apply throughout the critical discussion, and provides also a systematic basis for an original definition and categorization of fallacies, i.e. logical, moral or ethical mistakes.8 an empirical and an analytical component put theory into practice, as real occurrences of argumentative discourse are observed, from both a qualitative and a quantitative9 point of view, and analysed against the theoretical model, where the very notion of analysis presupposes that there is something behind the more or less chaotic linguistic stuff argumentative exchanges consist of, which can be tracked down if read through the filter of methodological instruments. Finally a practical component is geared towards the improvement of argumentative practice in specific institutionalized contexts, including political, legal and (new)media discourse as well as practices of negotiation in business communication.

8 Fallacies are not among the aspects of argumentative discourse dealt with in this book. Suffice here to point out that while in classical and modern approaches fallacies tend to be defined as logical, moral or ethical mistakes, from a pragma-dialectical perspective they are procedural mistakes, in that they violate the rules for a critical discussion. 9 here quantitative is intended somewhat differently from the use made in corpus assisted discourse analysis, to which this book sticks when reference to quantitative methods is made. in the pragma-dialectical research frame, quantitative refers to empirical experimental research, in which the relevance of the model is statistically measured against the effects of argumentation on the receiver (van eemeren 2010: 169).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


6. The eVoluTion oF The pragma-DialecTical moDel:

STraTegic manoeuVring

in its recent developments the pragma-dialectical approach to argumentation has been enriched with the notion of strategic manoeuvring (van eemeren/houtlosser 2006, van eemeren 2010), with a view to bridging the gap which, since ancient greece, has traditionally divided dialectic and rhetoric.10 Theoretically, the gap can be bridged starting from a pragmatic conception of dialectic as discourse dialectic, i.e. a theory of critical argumentative exchanges in natural discourse (van eemeren 2010: 89), as opposed to formal conceptions, which are more closely oriented to formal logic. Discourse dialectic presupposes an interest in real-life argumentation, where participants do not shy away from the pursuit of rhetorical effectiveness. Viewed from this perspective, rhetoric, conceived as the theoretical study of aiming for communicative and interactional effectiveness in discourse (ibidem), is not necessarily antithetical to dialectical standards. in other words, aiming for rhetorical effectiveness does not necessarily amount to a violation of the dialectical rules and the dialectical and rhetorical components contribute each in its own terms to various degrees to the argumentative effort. in van eemerens words:
When argumentation is in the first place viewed as aimed at resolving a difference of opinion on the merits, a perspective is taken that is primarily dialectical, and when the argumentation is in the first place viewed as aimed at achieving agreement by having the acceptability of the standpoint at issue agreed upon by the audience, a perspective is taken that is primarily rhetorical (2010: 89).

10 For scholars representing an exception to this dichotomical view of argumentation and rhetoric, cf. van eemenren (2010: 83 and ff.).


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

Drawing on the classical tripartite distinction of rhetoric into topics, audience orientation and stylistics, strategic manoeuvring is construed as the resultant of three aspects, corresponding to the choices the parties involved in an argumentative discourse make at the level of topic selection, adaptation to the audience and linguistic devices employed to realize the former two aspects. incidentally, the level of presentational choices is also the one which presents greater affinity with the agenda of discourse analysis in general, i.e. to investigate how contextual factors impinge on the use of language. 7. The criTical DiScuSSion moDel The overview of the general pragma-dialectical frame presented in the previous section was in order, as this represents the most important source of insights from argumentation theory in this book. however, not all of its components are dealt with in the book, where special attention is devoted to strategic manoeuvring throughout the stages of the critical discussion. as anticipated, the notion of critical discussion refers to a model which is meant to provide categories through which argumentative exchanges can be systematically observed. This means that the stages into which it is divided do not necessarily find a correspondence in real-life argumentation. Just as is the case with communication at large, also in argumentative discourse much is left implicit or occurs far more disorderly than envisaged in a model. its function is mainly heuristic, as it allows to break down the content of a discussion into steps which are functionally relevant to the solution of a dispute, thus helping the analyst to connect all the relevant bits of discourse. in this way, by means of a reconstruction process (cf. van eemeren et al. 1993) a structure emerges which is at the same time more streamlined and more complete than the original dis-

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


course. Bringing in a fundamental concept of linguistics, the result of the analysis is a much more coherent representation of the discussion going on, where only the fundamental parts are retained, and their role within the macro-scheme is disambiguated, while at the same time, those parts which were left implicit in the original wording are made explicit. The four stages will be briefly explained below. 7.1. The confrontation stage real or presumed confrontation is a necessary condition for a critical discussion (van eemeren/grotendorst 2004: 60), otherwise there would be no need for a defence of ones opinion or position. The confrontation stage is the one in which a difference of opinion emerges between two parties. This can be mixed, if two parties are actively involved in the definition of opposing standpoints, or non mixed, when only one party engages in the defence of a standpoint and the other limits to raising doubts without championing the opposite point of view. at the same time it can be single, if just one point is up for discussion, or multiple if the points at issue are more than one. Besides, it can be explicit or implicit. manoeuvring strategically at this stage can be geared towards maximizing or minimizing the distance between the parties to the critical discussion, in relation to the difference of opinion. The participant(s) may have an interest in maintaining the difference of opinion non-mixed, i.e. one in which the antagonist only raises doubts as to the validity of the protagonists standpoint, and in this case he will try to formulate the standpoint in such a way as to evade open criticisms, for example by placing on it an aura of reasonableness or common sense. alternatively the difference of opinion can be presented in such a way as to maximise the distance between the parties to the discussion, a strategy which might be profitably put to use when the speaker decides that conveying uncompromising conviction can serve him better than opting for a less openly


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

confrontational proposition. The point will be illustrated by considering the following examples, taken from editorials:
(1) iSrael has sought to justify its military attacks on gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of self-defence as recognised by article 51, united nations charter. We categorically reject this contention. (From The Sunday Times, January 11, 2009) much has been written about the subjugation of greece, the cradle of democracy, under a second german occupation. and much of it is nonsense. [] yet there is something to the critics charges. For many countries, such as Spain, the eu has been an anchor of democracy. But as the crisis persists [] the legitimacy of the enterprise will suffer. (europe against the people? efforts to save the euro cannot run against the will of the voters indefinitely, The Economist, nov 12th 2011)


in both cases persuasion is aimed at a third party, namely the readers of the newspaper, but a direct antagonist is discursively constructed in the text. in (1) it is israels claim that is presented as antithetical to that of the authors a group of intellectuals who bought a space in the newspaper to make their position public , while in (2) a difference of opinion arises between the writer and some detractors of germanys interference with greeces national sovereignty, against the background of the current financial crisis threatening economic stability in the euro zone. however, in (1) the gap between the writers and israel is presented as extremely wide, and therefore hardly reconcilable, while in (2) the writers position is not expressed in full opposition to the views of those who criticize germanys policy. only the most radical views are discarded as nonsense, thus appealing to a more sober audience. 7.2. The opening stage if the confrontation stage is dominated by divisiveness, being the one in which the difference of opinion becomes

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


manifest, the opening stage is concerned with identifying commonalities between the parties, i.e. objects of agreement (perelman/olbrechts-Tyteca 1969: 65 and ff.) which will then become the starting points on which the subsequent attempt at resolving the dispute can rest. in van eemeren and grotendorsts words (2004: 60) this is the stage in which the parties try to find out whether their zone of agreement is sufficiently broad to conduct a fruitful discussion as it would be pointless to try and resolve a difference of opinion absent a mutual commitment to a common starting point (procedural and/or substantive). To exemplify this point, it can hardly be envisaged that scholars negating the holocaust can engage in a profitable (critical) discussion on the causes that led to it, as they do not commit themselves to the existence of the holocaust in the first place. or again, the absence of a common starting point on the hierarchy of values like individualism and collectivism is one of the factors that make dialogue on human rights so difficult between Western and eastern cultures. elements of commonality between the parties are to be understood in procedural and/or substantive sense. procedural starting points limit the scope of acceptable contributions to the discussion. Some of the procedural norms are determined on the ground of the context: people embarking on a critical discussion in an informal situation, for example, will have to comply with the norms of turn-taking governing mundane conversation, while the participants to an institutional debate will have to abide by stricter conventionalized norms with which they must be familiar beforehand. other procedural norms have a more general validity, such as the inadmissibility of illogical reasoning or even recourse to coercion instead of appeal to reasonableness. Substantive starting points, on the other hand, concern the common ground shared by the parties in terms of representation of reality, values and beliefs. a major distinction can be drawn between descriptive and normative starting points, with the former referring to what perelman and


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

olbrechts-Tyteca subsume under structures of the real, and the latter concerning the preferable (1969: 68), or values. however, it must be pointed out that when speaking about the real perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca do not refer to an objectively given entity, but rather to the representation of the real proposed by the speaker (1969: 262).11 For this reason, in the category of descriptive starting points van eemeren includes facts, truths and presumptions, i.e. all those objects of agreement that can be supposed to be universally12 shared, as opposed to objects of the preferable (encompassing values, value hierarchies and loci, according to van eemeren, 2010: 110), which are in principle shared by particular audiences. Strategic manoeuvring, and in particular adapting to the audience in the opening stage aims, therefore, at tuning up with the audience, identifying or negotiating a common ground between the protagonist and the antagonist. if starting points are identified correctly in the opening stage they will provide commitments the audience can be held to in the argumentation and concluding stage (van eemeren 2010: 110). Both procedural and substantial commitments can be explicit (e.g. concessions elicited/made in the opening stage), or implicit, conveyed by the context. in the latter case we talk about

11 an illustration to the point is provided by the same authors, who discussing interpretation of discourse state: When isocrates has the son of alcibiades say everyone knows that the same man brought about the destruction of democracy and the exile of my father he offers verifiable facts, but the words mean: my fathers exile was a political act as condemnable as the destruction of democracy. [...] although the statement seems only to concern facts, what it suggests is an evaluation (perelman/olbrechts-Tyteca 1969: 125). 12 The notion of audience as intended in perelman and olbrechtsTytecas The New Rhetoric refers to a construction of the speaker defined as an ensemble of those whom the speaker wishes to influence by his argumentation (1969: 19).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


pragmatic commitments, pertaining to the argumentative situation [] and the generally accepted commitments having to do with the normal (i.e. the real), otherwise called, after aristotle, endoxa (defined as the views generally accepted in a given culture). While procedural commitments tend to remain implicit, substantial ones are more easily made explicitly, if this suits strategic manoeuvring best. an example of both implicit and explicit substantial commitments comes from the initial scene of the movie Thank you for smoking (2005, directed by Jason reitman), in which the protagonist, nick naylor, a lobbyist fronting the uS Tabacco organization, takes part in a talk show on the health damages caused by nicotine, end the responsibility thereof of cigarette producers. in an unlikely (as well as fallacious) attempt at defending the standpoint that tobacco companies are not to be blamed for lung cancer in young smokers, facing a hostile audience, emotionally steered by the presence of a 15 year old former smoker diagnosed with cancer, naylor tries to establish with them a double object of agreement in order to reduce the initial distance. The first one, resting purely on pathos, consists in the assertive speech act We can all agree that theres nothing more important than american children, which earns the protagonist an immediate display of consent in the audience, where commonality is discursively constructed by means of the explicit projecting clause we can all agree that. The second object of agreement, appealing to logos, is implicit and amounts to the endoxa that companies are after profit. resting on this assumption, to which his audience would easily commit, the protagonist makes the case that cigarette companies would not have an interest in causing the death of young smokers, as in this way they would loose customers.13
13 This reasoning is fallacious as the fact that companies have no interest in young boys death does not warrant that young smokers will not die. in particular this is an example of argumentum ad consequentiam,


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

in other cases, generally speaking in the majority of critical discussions, however, the opening stage remains covert, as the common starting points are simply assumed to exist (van eemeren 2010: 61). 7.3.The argumentation stage in the argumentation stage, the protagonist puts forth his arguments in defence of his standpoint and at the same time rejects the antagonists arguments, a procedure, the latter, that in monologic discourse often takes the form of an anticipation of possible counterarguments, thus giving rise to a polyphony of voices (Bakhtin 1981). pragma-dialectical analytical categories related to this stage concern both the argumentation structure, which can be simple or complex, depending on the number of arguments defending the same standpoint, and the schemes used to defend it. as far as the structure is concerned (see van eemeren et al. 2002: 63 ff), simple argumentation includes only one argument in defence of a standpoint, while in complex argumentation recourse is had to more than one argument. These can be independent of one another, representing alternative lines of defence for the same standpoint (multiple argumentation), interdependent, if they have to be taken together to conclusively defend the standpoint (coordinative argumentation), or hierarchically structured, when an argument is in turn supported by another argument (subordinated argumentation). as for argument schemes, they concern the relation between each argument and the standpoint it is meant to defend or reject. as Walton et al. point out (2008: 276) modern argument
which is unreasonable as a descriptive standpoint (a standpoint which refers to a factual state of affairs in reality) is supported by an evaluative argument in which a value judgement is expressed that points out to the undesired consequences to the standpoint (van eemeren et al. 2009: 172).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


schemes have their historical forerunners in the classical concept of topoi, and particularly in aristotles notion of topics as conceived in the broadest frame of his theory of logical and rhetorical argumentation. aristotle used the term with two different meanings. according to the first one, they are search formulas (kienpointner 1997: 226) or points of view (Walton et al. 2008: 278) indicating how and where arguments can be found, starting from commonly accepted opinions (i.e. endoxa), functioning as given premises. according to the second meaning, they are warrants which guarantee the transition from arguments to conclusion (kienpointner 1997: 226), or in Waltons words principles of probable and plausible reasoning warranting the passage from the premise(s) of an argument to its conclusions. This second meaning is the one that seems to inform the pragma-dialectical conception of schemes. Different approaches to argument schemes exist, yielding different classifications: classical rhetoric aimed at providing systems of schemes meant as repertoires from which orators could select ready-made arguments. aristotle for example in his Topics includes between 300-400 topoi, reduced in roman rhetoric to 20-30 (kienpointner 1997: 227). in modern argumentation theory, some classifications maintain such an orientation to exhaustiveness and precision, with the result of producing long and detailed, but hardly manageable repertoires of schemes (cf. perelman/olbrechts-Tyteca 1969, Walton et al. 2008). The following sub-sections will provide a synthetic recapitulation of the most influential contemporary classifications of argumentation schemes. 7.3.1. The new rhetoric: association and dissociation perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca divide argumentative schemes which they call techniques into two broad categories: arguments based on processes of association, and arguments based on processes of dissociation. Association schemes bring separate elements together and allow us to establish a unity


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

among them, which aims either at organizing them or at evaluating them, positively or negatively, by means of one another (ibidem: 190). These are further classified into i) quasi-logical arguments, which depend on logical relations (e.g. contradiction, identity, transitivity)14 or mathematical relations (e.g. connection between the part and the whole, the smaller and the larger, frequency, but also arguments by the probable);15 and arguments dependant on material elements, including ii) argu14 Schemes based on relations of contradiction, try to show that the theses one is disputing lead to an incompatibility (perelman/olbrechtsTyteca 1969: 195). a relation of (complete) identity is typically found in definitions (ibidem: 210), while relations of partial identity lie at the heart of the rule of justice, which requires giving identical treatment to beings or situations of the same kind (ibidem: 219). also arguments of reciprocity the pivots of diplomacy, operating from equal to equal (ibidem: 223) rest on relations of identity. in arguments by transitivity lying at the basis of syllogistic reasoning (what aristotle called enthymeme), it is maintained that because a relations holds between a and b and between b and c it can be inferred that it holds also between a and c (ibidem: 230). 15 Schemes depending on mathematical relations include arguments based on the inclusion of the part in the whole (what is true of the whole is true of the part) and on the division of the whole into its parts (arguments by division). The latter includes the dilemma (form of reasoning in which two hypothesis are examined, with the conclusion that no matter which one if them is chosen, the result is a statement, a course of action, which amounts to the same thing in either case (ibidem: 236). a variation of the dilemma consists in narrowing the scope of debate to two possible solutions to a problem (both unpleasant) and arguing that one of them is the lesser of two evils (ibidem: 237). arguments by division presuppose that the sum of parts equals the whole and that the situations which are being considered exhaust the possibilities. When the parts or the possibilities are limited to two, the speaker points out the absurdity of the adversarys thesis and then puts forth his own as the only remaining solution, as it is the case in the commonly used problem-solution scheme. under schemes resting on mathematical relations perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca encompass also arguments by comparison, in which one or more object is evaluated against something else, with final deliberation resting in some way on a notion of measure(ibidem: 248).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


ments based on the structures of the real16 and iii) relations establishing the structures of the real, which comprise reasoning through the particular case17 and arguments by analogy. loci falling under ii) aim to establish a solidarity between accepted judgments and others which one wishes to promote (ibidem: 261), and include a. arguments depending on relations of succession (sequential relation), i.e. arguments which unite a phenomenon to its causes or consequences (their most common forms being the pragmatic argument, the argument from waste and the slippery slope), and b. arguments of co-existence,18 which unite two realities that are not on an equal level, one of them being more basic and more explanatory than the other. among relations of co-existence, the fundamental one connects the essence and its manifestations (ibidem: 293).19
it must be rememberd that perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca conceive of reality not as an objective entity, but as a representation of the real proposed by the speaker. 17 Depending on the function of the particular case we have argumentation by example, in which the particular case is used to make a generalization; by illustration, where the particular case provides support for an already established rule (ibidem: 357), and by model, in which the particular case encourages (or discourages) imitation (ibidem: 368). 18 relations of co-existence are so denominated, not in order to emphasise the simultaneity of the terms, but to differentiate them from sequential connections (ibidem: 293). 19 prototypical of this type of relation is the connection between one person and his acts, whereby a persons acts are seen as a manifestation of his personality, with past acts forming the reputation a person enjoys. actperson interaction lies at the basis of the argument from authority, as it uses the acts or opinions of a person or group of persons as a means of proof in support of a thesis (ibidem: 305). conversely, other schemes functioning on the act-person relation are used to reduce the solidarity between act and person (ibidem: 310 and ff.), that is to weaken their relation, as for example when an opinion is attributed to a third party or to an unspecified impersonal they. other argument schemes based on relations of co-existence draw a connection between the group and its members, treating the members as


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

on the other hand, arguments based on processes of dissociation have the purpose of dissociating, separating, disuniting elements which are regarded as forming a whole or at least a unified group within some system of thought (ibidem: 190). Two techniques are available to this end: breaking connecting links proper, whereby the arguer claims that elements which should be kept separate have unduly been connected, and dissociation. in the latter case the speaker, assuming the original unity of elements comprised within a single conception and designated by a single notion draws a distinction between such elements, thus modifying the concepts themselves (ibidem: 412), by means of a redefinition process. Drawing on perelman and olbrechts-Tytecas notion of it, van rees has further developed our understanding of dissociation, defining it as an
argumentative technique that serves to resolve the contradictions that a notion that originally was covered by a single term and that was considered a unity, gives rise to. Dissociation resolves these contradictions by distinguishing various aspects within that notion, some of which are subsumed under a new denominator. The now reduced old notion and the new notion that has been split off are not equally valued, one is considered more important and more central than the other; therein lies the source of argumentative potential of the technique (van rees 2005: 54).

This procedural definition of dissociation highlights that three conditions have to be present to identify a dissociation (van rees 2005: 64): 1) from an existing conceptual unit, expressed by a single term, one or more aspects are split off; 2) through this operation
manifestations of the group (ibidem: 322), and between act and essence, when events, objects, beings or institutions [] are considered characteristic of a period, style, regime or structure (ibidem: 327). also the notions of deficiency and abuse presuppose the notion of essence, which expresses the normal way things occur (ibidem: 328).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


a contradiction or paradox is resolved because now a proposition can be considered true in one interpretation of the original term and false in the other; 3) the reduced and the split off concept are assigned a different value. among possible linguistic indicators of dissociation there are expressions like distinction, difference, not the same as, something else than, except; negations, most notably the negative adverb not, in particular when associated with the conjunction but, and reference to a value scale, such as essential-incidental, central-peripheral, real-pseudo, etc. an example of real-life use of dissociation, can be found in a statement released by former italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconis lawyer, when faced by journalists who accused the premier of inconsistency, for the introduction of a norm called legitimate impediment (in italian, legittimo impedimento). The norm, which applies to senior members of the government, allowed the premier, involved in a series of lawsuits, to avoid appearing before the court if institutional commitments kept him from doing so. Such a provision spurred a row, as it was perceived as an unjustified privilege which granted some citizens a different treatment than the majority of citizens, thus running counter the principle that the law is equal for all. The lawyer replied that the law is equal for all, but not necessarily its application (Guardian 7 oct 2009). in this way he attempted to solve the contradiction pointed out by journalists, by splitting up from the original notion of law, two different notions: law itself, intended as the core concept, related to principle, and the application of law, intended as the more trivial mechanics of law. in this way, the principle of equality is reaffirmed with regard to the former notion and negated with regard to the second. 7.3.2. Walton: inductive, deductive and defeasible arguments. adopting a different perspective on schemes, Walton et al. (2008), who provide a comprehensive treatment thereof, place emphasis on the dialogicity inherent in the process of validating


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

an argument. Traditionally, argument validity was associated with logical validity, i.e. compliance within deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning. in the former, (also referred to as modus ponens or syllogism), if the party to whom the argument is addressed accepts the premise, and the argument is valid, then he/she is logically bound to accept also the conclusion (Walton et al. 2008: 7-8). in the latter (inductive reasoning), a statistical conclusion is drawn from a set of data. Forms of reasoning that did not comply with deductive or inductive reasoning were considered fallacious. however, starting from the observation that in many fields of activity arguments departing from such forms of reasoning were commonly accepted, as is the case of arguments from expert opinion in courtrooms, or in scientific contexts, some scholars, among whom Walton (1996), started to make the case for the legitimacy of presumptive, or defeasible, arguments. Such schemes, though not logically binding, can still be reasonable, but the support they provide to the conclusion is only tentative, as it is up to the antagonist to ask critical questions testing the validity of the argument before having to accept the conclusion (Walton et al. 2008: 3). Defeasibility, then, lies in the provisionality of the antagonists commitment to (i.e. acceptance of) the argument put forth by the protagonist, which is due if the argument complies with the requirements of an argument scheme and the premise is acceptable, but can subsequently be retracted, should the protagonist fail to answer one of the scheme-specific critical questions asked (Walton et al. 2008: 9). The example Walton (1996: 81) gives for a defeasible argument is the following:
a ph.D. student, Susan, has spent more than 5 years trying to finish her thesis, but there are problems. her advisers keep leaving town, and delays are continued. She contemplates going to law school, where you can get a degree in a definite period. But then she thinks: Well, ive put so much work into this thing. it would be a pity to give up now.

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


The argument put forth by Susan in a process of self-deliberation can tentatively be accepted, as it correctly applies a recognized argument scheme (a form of argument from waste) and appears reasonable. however, vis--vis the situation of uncertainty as to future developments, the implicit conclusion [id rather complete my thesis than going to law school] might have to be withdrawn or modified if new data become available (e.g. if Susans supervisor unexpectedly opts for an early retirement, thus further protracting the completion of the thesis). The possibility of further complications could be contemplated by asking critical questions for the argument from waste, i.e. 1) is bringing about [the aim] possible? and 2) forgetting past losses that cannot be recouped, should a reassessment of the cost and benefits of trying to bring about [the aim] from this point in time to be made? (Walton et al. 2008: 326). having included defeasible arguments in the list of acceptable schemes, Walton et al. (2008: 348 and ff.) propose a classification system for argument schemes divided into three main categories. i) Reasoning, encompassing different kinds of sequences in which there is a chaining of inferences, such that the conclusion of one local inference becomes a premise for the next one, includes besides deductive and inductive reasoning also practical reasoning (e.g. argument from consequences), abductive reasoning (e.g. argument from sign), and causal reasoning (e.g. argument from cause to effect, slippery slope argument); ii) Source based arguments depend on the credibility of the source and include argument from position to know (e.g., argument from expert opinion, from witness testimony), argument from commitment, arguments attacking personal credibility and arguments from popular acceptance; finally under the heading Applying rules to cases (iii), those schemes are grouped which apply some general rule to a specific case, the validity of which rests on how well the rule fits the case. These comprise, among others, arguments from example, analogy and precedent.


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

7.3.3. pragma-dialectics: arguments based on symptomatic, analogy and causal relations. The pragma-dialectical approach to schemes seems to sacrifice precision for the sake of manageability, reducing most argumentative schemes to three main types of argumentation, which include subtypes, based respectively on a symptomatic relation, a relation of analogy and a causal relation, including as a variant of the latter pragmatic argumentation (roughly corresponding to the practical argument in Walton et al. 2008). also in the pragma-dialectical approach each scheme is associated with critical questions, which are specific to each scheme (see van eemeren et al. 2002: 96 and ff.). For the purposes of the critical discussion model, getting a global overview of the structure of argumentation permits to tell whether a standpoint has been sufficiently defended, while identifying schemes linking single arguments to the general standpoint allows to test their resistance to potential criticism (van eemeren 2010: 12). i) Symptomatic arguments. argumentation based on a symptomatic relation, which can be considered roughly tantamount to perelman and olbrechts-Tytecas connection between essence and its manifestations, rests on the following scheme:
y is true of X Because Z is true of X and Z is symptomatic of y

and an example of it can be found in the following letter to the editor:20

(3) iT iS noT surprising that David miliband has relied on the Food Standards agency (FSa) on the quality of organic food
This letter to the editor is courtesy of giuliana garzone.


2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


(organic food is no better, says minister, news, last week). Flying in the face of the science which the FSa purports to uphold, it disregards the research for example the work from Glasgow and Liverpool universities, which showed substantially higher levels (68.2%) of Omega 3 fatty acids in organic milk compared with conventional milk, and a more favourable ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. There is other information showing higher levels of vitamins and lower levels of pesticides nobody knows the true risks as nobody has tested the safety of the use of multiple chemicals on food crops the so-called cocktail effect. (Times, letter to the editor)

in this case, the standpoint that organic food (X) is healthier (y) than normal food is defended by the argument that it contains better nutrients and fewer pesticides (Z), which is per se considered symptomatic of being healthier (y): ii) Argumentation by analogy. in argumentation based on a relation of analogy, reasoning follows the scheme
y is true of X Because y is true of Z and Z is comparable to X

again, an example of such scheme is provided by a letter to the editor, in which the hypothesis of a conspiracy (X) behind lady Diana and Dody al-Fayeds death is rejected (i.e. is considered false [y]) on the ground that other conspiracy theories behind the deaths of celebrities in the past (Z) turned out to be false (y):
(4) The Sunday Times today publishes the personal testimony of mohanned al-fayed, in which he takes issue with the official account of the death of Diana, princess of Wales. The owner of harrods, the london Store and the father of the princess lost love, Dodi al-Fayed, clearly believes that he and his family are the victims of an establishment plot that embraces the political classes, the security forces and the media.


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

We sympathize with him for his loss but we do not believe his conspiracy to be true. The deaths of glamorous figures have always provoked conspiracy theories. president John kennedys assassination and marilyn monroes death were followed by outrageous allegations. once the evidence was made public, however, a fair-minded examination robbed the conspiracy theory credibility. most people now have little difficulty believing kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman, lee harvey oswald, and that monroe died of a drug overdose. (Times, letter to the editor)

iii) Causal arguments. Finally, the scheme of causal argumentation is as follows:

y is true of X Because Z is true of X and Z leads to y

Drawing again on the movie Thank you for smoking discussed above (section 7.2) the main argument used against the tobacco corporation is based on a relation of causality: the insurgence of lung cancer (y) in smokers is blamed onto cigarettes (X) and by extension onto the tobacco corporation on the ground that cigarettes contain nicotine (Z), and nicotine causes cancer (y). a subtype of the causal argument scheme, the pragmatic argument consists in arguing that a certain action should be taken (or avoided) as it produces a certain effect, and such an effect is desirable (or undesirable), resting on the following scheme:
act X is desirable/undesirable Because X leads to consequence y and consequence y is desirable/undesirable

a particularly interesting example of this scheme can be found, again, in the movie Thank you for smoking, where the main character (nick naylor, a lobbyist for the Tobacco cor-

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


poration) has to convince the former protagonist of the marlboro advertisements, now dying of lung cancer and leading a personal campaign against the tobacco corporation, to accept money in exchange for his silence. in a spectacular example of manipulation, nick naylor, suggests that the marlboro man should accept (X) the money which would then be used to set up a Foundation against cigarettes so that he could publicly denounce the bribery attempt on the part of the tobacco corporation (y), thus bringing further discredit onto them (desirable).21 This latter example provides also the opportunity of focussing on strategic manoeuvring in the argumentation stage, and particularly on presentational devices, which will be dealt with separately in the next section. 7.3.4. Strategic manoeuvring in the argumentation stage The choice of one scheme over another depends on factors which to a certain extent fall beyond the scope of strategic manoeuvring, resting in the first place on the factual data available. however, whenever different lines of defence are available, the selection of one over the others can be accounted for by considerations on which is deemed more effective in relation to the intended audience and context.22 in the example under discussion, strategic manoeuvring at the level of topic selection translates into the recourse to the pragmatic argument over other viable alternatives. in line of
The manoeuvre is in fact manipulative as naylors addressee cannot see the lobbyists real intention, which is of convincing him to accept the money in exchange of his silence. This point will be further commented on when discussing adaptation to the audience. 22 The importance of possible alternatives to the selection made by the speaker is also at the basis of discourse analysis, whose fundamental question is why, of all the ways a message can be expressed, a certain formulation is chosen, or in other words, in what way the chosen form suits best the intention of the speaker.


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

principle, the same communicative purpose could have been pursued by means of an argument based on analogy, for example, making the case that the man should take the money because other people in the same situation have accepted a redress. or again, by means of symptomatic argumentation, arguing that opting for a certain redress over an uncertain success in a win-hard campaign against tobacco giants is a sign of greater intelligence. Such strategies, though, would have been less effective in terms of audience adaptation, as none of them builds on a starting point shared by the marlboro man. naylors argument, instead, leverages on the mans rage as an object of agreement and on that ground convinces him to consider the possibility of accepting the money, if only for the purpose of delivering an image blow to the tobacco corporation, thus reducing the mans initial resistance. had the protagonist suggested a more self-oriented desirable consequence, he would have certainly met the antagonists hostility, as made clear by the marlboro mens reaction guessing the content of the suitcase my dignity aint for sale. Finally, as far as presentation strategies are concerned, the speakers real intention is for money to speak for itself: the suggestion that former marlboro man take the money only to bend it to his own cause is just an expedient that naylor employs to win the mans attention and make him suspend his judgement. in fact, with the pretext of showing the man how to stage, in front of the TV cameras of a popular talk show, his outrage at the Tobacco corporations attempt to buy his silence, naylor empties the case containing the money on the floor, counting on the perlocutionary effect of the mound of banknotes to wet the appetite of his addressee, thus inducing him to accept the offer. 7.4. Fourth stage: the Conclusion a critical discussion reaches a conclusion when one of the parties has conclusively defended or rejected the standpoint. if

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


two parties defend different lines of action, and eventually either of them prevails, that is an example of a conclusion. in our example, the marlboro man ends up accepting the money, and not with a view to decrying the behaviour of the Tobacco corporation, but for himself and his family having given in at the sight of the money scattered on the floor thus adjudicating the dispute to the protagonist. other examples can be found in editorials ending with what van Dijk (1995/1996) calls a pragmatic conclusion, or with a re-statement of the initial standpoint, whose validity is taken as conclusively defended by the foregoing reasoning. often, however, the conclusion remains implicit, or is not reached at all, as is the case when two parties maintain each their original conviction. in other cases the conclusion is deferred, as in product or political advertising, where the success of the protagonist is determined by the effect produced on the audience. or again, the conclusion may be decided by a third party, as in court cases, or all the contexts in which an arbitrator is called to decide over a dispute. 8. STraTegic manoeuVring anD DiScourSe analySiS From a discourse analytical perspective, the first two aspects of strategic manoeuvring topical selection and audience adaptation pertain to the context, i.e. language-external factors which can be analysed only by taking into consideration who the participants are, and what motives they have for entering a critical discussion in a given context of situation (halliday 1994). The third aspect, presentational choices, concerned as it is with formal as opposed to substantial issues, is the one to which discourse analysis can make the greatest contribution. Besides, if all the aspects are meant as closely knit to each other, and are artificially distinguished only for the sake of analysis, presentational choices are still less severable from the other two, considering that it is through discursive choices that


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

the former two aspects are concretely realized. argument schemes have to be filled with a content which is linguistically mediated, and adaptation to the audience is likewise achieved discursively. For this reason presentational choices will be given particular attention in the next section. The fundamental role of presentation, already recognized in classical rhetoric, is acknowledged also in perelman and olbrechts-Tytecas The New Rhetoric, where chapter Three is eloquently titled presentation of data and form of the discourse. Significantly, the two authors warn that effective presentation, defined as one that impresses itself on the hearers consciousness, should not be conceived as the purely formal art of good speaking and writing, separated from the substance of discourse. in other words purely formal aspects, intended as stylistic structures and figures which are nonetheless addressed in The New Rhetoric , cannot be studied in isolation from the purpose of argumentation (1969: 142), a position that is particularly in tune with the discourse-analytical perspective in general, and more specifically with the pragmatic viewpoint. 8.1. Linguistic structures associated with argumentation among linguistic structures, perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca point out some which are particularly relevant for argumentation, as they are invested with an evaluative23 potential. These include: negative forms, as they position the speaker antithetically with regard to someone elses stance. in the authors words a negation is a reaction to an actual or virtual affirmation by someone else and on the same

23 in fact the authors use the expression affective value. here i draw on the subsequent notion of evaluation as systematized by hunston and Thompson (2001).

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


definition there seems to rely Werlich, in his Text Grammar of English (1983), when identifying in a negated statement the thematic text base of argumentative text types. other categorizations within the field of linguistics include negatives in the frame of polyphony, seizing in such structures a dialogic element (martin/White 2005, garzone 2012); coordination and subordination, with the relative conjunctions and connectors/adverbs, since the choice of treating propositions as coordinated or subordinated often depends on evaluative considerations, or more precisely on the hierarchy of the admitted values (perelman/olbrechts-Tyteca 1969: 156). and according to the two authors subordination (as opposed to coordination), seems to be the norm, at least in cognitive terms. To make the point, perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca use the following example: the two propositions i met your friend yesterday and he did not mention you could be joined by the conjuction and, but the normal interpretation would in most situations be although he had the opportunity, your friend did not mention you, which reveals an expectation frustrated by the events. in argumentative discourse subordination seems even more prevalent, to the extent that the two scholars declare the hypotactic construction the argumentative construction par excellance, as it creates frameworks (1969: 158) that reveal the position of the speaker; modalities, intended in the strict technical sense, include assertive modality, the unmarked option in argumentation, and the interrogative, which is a modality of considerable rhetorical importance, as a question presupposes an object to which it relates and suggests that there is agreement as to the existence of this object (on


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

this aspect cf. also levinson [1983: 181-184] on questions as presupposition triggers). The injunctive modality (typically expressed by the imperative), on the other hand is not persuasive at all, as its force rests on the authority of the speaker, and neither is the optative modality (e.g. may he succeed!), which is similar to the injunctive, when it expresses a prayer or a supplication (1969: 158-160); use of tense, with the past that stands for facts, thus adding factuality to a representation, while the present is used for the universal, the law, the normal, as well as to enhance the feeling of presence (1969: 160. on a similar note cf. Benvenistes dichotomy histoire vs discours, 1966); pronouns, with particular emphasis placed on the opposition between the impersonal one which is often used to put forth a standard while decreasing the speakers responsibility and i, which expresses subjectivity (1969: 161).

a further element that all these structures have in common is, as acknowledged by the same authors, that they contribute to the modulation of modality (meant here in its broadest sense), expressing certainty, possibility and necessity of a proposition (1969: 163), which all in all is also referred to as epistemic evaluation (hunston/Thompson 2001). curiously, the list above does not mention other linguistic devices performing the same function, like modal verbs, but also metadiscursive elements like it- projecting clauses (such as it is necessarily the case that and it is possible that). Discourse analysts draw similar lists of linguistic features that are relevant for the purposes of their analysis (among others see van Dijk 2001, Fairclough 2001), most of which can be put to use when analyzing presentational choices in argumentation. excluding items already mentioned in perelman and

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


olbrechts-Tytecas list, the following devices can be singled out from the works of different authors representing different strands of research on discourse: lexis, the most obvious area, as the selection of words with a positive or negative connotation is the first clue to the speakers attitude;24 syntactic relations within the sentence, most of which can be subsumed under the transitivity system (halliday 1994), devised as a comprehensive model to grasp choices made by language users for representing reality. it basically analyses utterances in terms of who does what to whom, in what circumstances, the basic assumption being that representation of reality is never neutral and the linguistic selections made indirectly express the stance of the speaker/writer. Special regard is had for the type of subject (active agents, experiencers, abstract forces, impersonal subjects), the objects and the processes which put them into a relation, in terms of type of process (the main distinction being material vs relational) and diathesis (active or passive); inferences, i.e. implicit contents vehiculated by an utterance without being overtly codified (grice 1975). These include both conventional and conversational implicatures, and presuppositions; textual features, above all mechanisms of cohesion and
a similar point is made by perelman and olbrechts-Tyteca (1969: 149) when they affirm in general, an indication of the argumentative intent is given by the use of a term representing a departure from ordinary language, immedialtely qualifying their statement with the following caveat: in actual fact there is no neutral choice but there is a choice that appears neutral (broadly speaking, a term that passes unnoticed may be considered ordinary). incidentally, this latter statement is in line with positions expressed by scholars concerned with the study of ideology (cf. Stuart hall 1982), who have deeply influenced discourse studies, and particularly their critical strand.


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

coherence (De Beaugrande/Dressler 1981). it can be the case that simply by juxtaposing propositions further meanings can be conveyed, whose product is more than the sum of the propositional contents (see for example mautner 2008, clark 2006). intertextuality, referred to the ways in which the production and reception of a given text depend upon the participants knowledge of other texts (De Beaugrande/Dressler 1981/2002, ch. iX) is another potentially meaningful factor. For example, a feature article published in the Time magazine on the increasing consensus for (extremist) rightwing parties in europe carried the title: the march of the far-right (Time 1 aug 2009). Without explicitly judging this state of affairs dangerous or drawing an explicit parallel between contemporary right-wing movements and past totalitarian regimes, the headline activates in the reader an intertextual reference to another event, commonly known as the march on rome, which opened the way to the fascist dictatorship in italy in 1922. a similar mechanism is exploited later on in the article (p. 23), where in the proposition over the years, far-right fortunes have surged, only to ebb as the parties have shot themselves in the jackboots [emphasis added] with internal feuds and rickety organization the idiom shooting oneself in the foot has been manipulated with a view to evoking the image of the SS uniforms; cognitive macro structures, such as text-genres. Speakers have expectations about the purpose of different genres, which can however be bent to achieve different purposes. an example to the point is pharmaceutical giant novartis bending of the Question & answer webpage, a genre which is conventionally meant to provide practical information, to the exquisitely argumentative effort of defending their reputation against potential da-

2. | Setting the stage: theoretical frame and methodological tools


mage produced by a dispute with the indian government over patents and access to drugs for poorer people (catenaccio/Degano 2011). 9. concluDing remarkS The chapter has presented the rationale for the combination of argumentation theory and discourse analysis, intended both in its traditional qualitative approaches, and in its quantitative corpus-assisted strands, and has provided a description of the methodological tools that will be employed in the subsequent chapters of the book. Special attention has been devoted to the pragma-dialectical notion of strategic manoeuvring across the four stages of the critical discussion model, with the conviction that the analytical accuracy provided by such a model, associated with the concern for the rhetorical component of argumentation is what makes this approach particularly attractive for a discourse analyst working on argumentative forms of discourse. The next chapters will put the methodological frame to work, presenting a series of case studies focused on political discourse in which the viability of the frame itself is tested. The results thus obtained, apart from shedding light on areas of political discourse that are under-investigated from a linguistic perspective, will hopefully make the case for the methodological synergy proposed in the book. Future research may follow two directions: on the one hand a more sophisticated adaptation of corpus linguistics tools to the study of argumentation could be pursued, furthering insights into the use of indicators to retrieve items worthy of attention for argumentation analysts, or exploring the potential of corpus annotation for aspects of argumentation extending well beyond the lexico-grammatical level. or, again, devising ways of corpus interrogation which make the analysis less de-


Discourse analysis, argumentation Theory and corpora

pendant on the backing of qualitative analysis, assessing for example, on a statistical basis, the reliability of potential indicators of argumentation. on the other hand, further research may adopt other perspectives of discourse analysis, such as multimodal analysis (kress/van leeuwen 2006) to explore argumentation in multimodal environments, notably the web or genre analysis, allowing to study argumentative discourse from the point of view of the conventional move structure associated with specific activity types in institutional contexts. Whatever approaches are combined, caution must be taken lest the specificities of each contributing discipline be watered down to the point of losing any heuristic value. To this end, the researcher should limit him/herself to what his competence in the borrowed field allows him/her to do. an even better option would be a collaboration between scholars with complementing backgrounds, a scenario which i hope this book may contribute to making possible.

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