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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 33, Issue 3


Words as weapons for mass persuasion: dysphemism in Churchill's wartime speeches

Eliecer Crespo-Fernández
Published Online: 2013-05-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0014


Politicians and orators employ words as weapons in order to exert ideological control and make an audience believe something in an ostensive way. In this regard, taking critical-political discourse analysis and appraisal theory as theoretical frameworks, it is the purpose of this paper to shed some light on the dysphemistic words and expressions identified in some of the memorable wartime speeches over a crucial two-year period for the outcome of the Second World War (1940–1941) by one of the most outstanding British politicians and statesmen, Winston Churchill. As metaphors are pervasive in political discourse and vital to the language of leadership, special attention is given to the analysis of dysphemistic figurative language within Lakoff and Johnson's conceptual metaphor theory and Charteris-Black's critical metaphor analysis. The results obtained support the idea that Churchill's skillful use of dysphemism is closely connected with his overall political goals of instilling courage and inspiring confidence in his fellow countrymen in such difficult times for Britain as those of a war against the powerful Nazi Germany.

Keywords: dysphemism; political discourse; persuasive discourse; evaluation; conceptual metaphor; Winston Churchill

About the article

Eliecer Crespo-Fernández

Eliecer Crespo-Fernández, PhD, is Associate Professor in the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. His research interests include the semantic and pragmatic dimensions of euphemism and dysphemism in the areas of immigration, sex, and death. He has recently focused on the persuasive nature of political discourse. He has published in major journals like Spanish in Context, Review of Cognitive Linguistics, and Bulletin of Hispanic Studies.

Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Plaza de la Universidad, 3, 02071 Albacete, Spain

Published Online: 2013-05-25

Published in Print: 2013-05-24

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 3, Pages 311–330, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0014.

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