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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 34, Issue 4


A linguistic framework for studying voices and positions in the climate debate

Trine Dahl
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  • Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, Norwegian School of Economics, Helleveien 30, Bergen 5045, Norway
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/ Kjersti Fløttum
Published Online: 2014-06-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2014-0009


The public debate on the highly contested issue of climate change is characterized by a multitude of voices as well as position taking by the social actors involved. Studies involving the climate issue have emanated from many fields, notably media science. To date, few linguistics-based studies on climate-related newspaper texts have been undertaken. This paper presents a theoretical framework – the Scandinavian theory of linguistic polyphony – which we argue is particularly well suited to analyze contested issues. To demonstrate how the theory can be operationalized, we present a case study involving four texts from The Guardian. Linguistic polyphony rests on the assumption that all texts are multivoiced. The case study focuses on the interaction of the journalist’s voice and external voices, and considers the extent to which implicit (hidden) voices are present in the analyzed texts. The analysis reveals a complex interaction of different voices, integrated in the journalist’s own argumentation and positioning.

Keywords: climate discourse; media discourse; journalism; polyphony; voices; position taking

About the article

Trine Dahl

Trine Dahl is Professor of English Linguistics at the Norwegian School of Economics. She takes a special interest in text linguistic research in the Anglo genre tradition. Her research has long been related to academic texts (KIAP project) and knowledge construction in the discipline of economics. She is currently involved in an interdisciplinary research project on climate change communication (LINGCLIM). Address for correspondence: Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, Norwegian School of Economics, Helleveien 30, 5045 Bergen, Norway 〈Trine.Dahl@nhh.no〉.

Kjersti Fløttum

Kjersti Fløttum is Professor of French Linguistics at the University of Bergen. Her general research fields are text linguistics, discourse analysis, genre theory, and linguistic polyphony. She has been head of large projects related to academic discourse (KIAP) and to political discourse (EURLING). She is currently leader of an interdisciplinary research project on climate change communication (LINGCLIM) and is also involved in other climate-related initiatives. Address for correspondence: Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen, PO Box 7805, 5020 Bergen, Norway 〈Kjersti.Flottum@if.uib.no〉.

Published Online: 2014-06-27

Published in Print: 2014-07-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 34, Issue 4, Pages 401–420, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2014-0009.

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