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Psychology of Language and Communication

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Strategies to Discredit Opponents: Russian Presentations of Events in Countries of the Former Soviet Union

Ludmilla A’Beckett
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  • School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, Building 11 A, Clayton, Vic 3800, Australia
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Published Online: 2013-09-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/plc-2013-0009


Discourse in this paper is represented by the totality of texts (Koller, 2004, p. 18) covering events in former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic countries. Over 100 texts have been collected from the most popular Russian newspapers, Argumenty i Fakty and Komsomol’skaia Pravda, between 2004 and 2010 in order to compile a “discourse of Russian satellites.” Even though the contemporary Russian press avoids the totalitarian habits of Soviet times such as monoglossia, dysphemisms (language of insults), sanctions and social commands, it still attempts to exercise control over the formation of readers’ opinions. The Russian press tries to channel the reaction of their audience toward disapproval of independent nations. The objective of this article is to summarize those narrative techniques which generate negative responses toward sovereign countries of the former Soviet Union. These techniques, which are called “strategies for discrediting opponents,” include sourcing favorable and unfavorable opinions, humorous framing, ironic statements and constructing a negative background. The means of control are subtle, but they are no less effective than through direct coercion.

Keywords: appraisal theory; discourse strategies; negative perception; dialogic perspectives; humor; metaphor; Russian press

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About the article

Published Online: 2013-09-06

Published in Print: 2013-09-01

Citation Information: Psychology of Language and Communication, Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 133–156, ISSN (Print) 1234-2238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/plc-2013-0009.

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