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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.400
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CiteScore 2018: 0.61

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Volume 34, Issue 1


Equivocation and doublespeak in far right-wing discourse: an analysis of Nick Griffin's performance on BBC's Question Time

Peter Bull / Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen
Published Online: 2014-01-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0035


An analysis was conducted of the discourse of Nick Griffin (leader of the BNP, the far right-wing British National Party), as featured on a television debate, broadcast on the popular BBC current affairs program Question Time (22 October 2009). On the basis of equivocation theory (Bavelas et al. 1990), it was hypothesized that Griffin's discourse may be seen to reflect an underlying communicative conflict. On the one hand, to be seen as racist is widely regarded as reprehensible in contemporary British society; on the other hand, much of the BNP's political support comes from its anti-immigrant stance. In this context, it was proposed that while Griffin denies criticisms that characterize the BNP as anti-immigrant or racist, he puts over his political message through implicit meanings, seemingly vague and ambiguous, but which carry clear implications regarding the BNP's continued underlying anti-immigrant stance. These implicit messages were further conceptualized as a form of “doublespeak” – language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words, and which may be characterized as a form of “calculated ambivalence.”

Keywords: equivocation; right-wing discourse; implicit meanings; doublespeak; communicative conflict

About the article

Peter Bull

Peter Bull is Reader in Psychology, University of York, United Kingdom, and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He has over 100 academic publications, principally taking the form of journal articles focused on the analysis of interpersonal communication. He is the author of The Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity (2003) and Communication under the Microscope: The Theory and Practice of Microanalysis (2002). Address for correspondence: Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom 〈 〉.

Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen

Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen is Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics at Ghent University, and currently an associated researcher at this institution. She has published on various aspects of English grammar, especially modality and pragmatic markers. Another area of research is media discourse. Articles in this field have appeared in Discourse & Society, Language Sciences, Journal of Pragmatics, and Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Simon-Vandenbergen co-edits the journal Functions of Language with Lachlan Mackenzie and Geoff Thompson. Address for correspondence: Ghent University, Linguistics Department, Blandijnberg 2, 9000, Ghent, Belgium 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2014-01-03

Published in Print: 2014-01-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 34, Issue 1, Pages 1–22, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0035.

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Citing Articles

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Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen
Functions of Language, 2019, Volume 26, Number 1, Page 49
Shani Burke
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 2018

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