Category political discourse

Structure of an Interview

Sometimes asking questions in an interview is just not the right ‘structure’ if your interviewee does not want to answer them. Here we see Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy (KG) interviewing the Conservative MP Tobias Elwood (TE) who clearly… Continue Reading →

Three words and 0.7 seconds: Not much time for a Minister

A lot was made on Twitter of Helen Watley’s appearance on Sky TV this morning. The claim by some distractors was that Whatley was saying that the government could blame scientists for mistakes made in the COVID-19 policy. Within ten… Continue Reading →

Using intonation to predict the end of turn

In spoken discourse, we can usually predict when our conversational partner is about to finish a turn by listening to their intonation. This is not always successful, however, as demonstrated by the following clip in which a TV host assumes… Continue Reading →

A book by Dr Michael Cribb

Hesitation, Equivocation and Pausing Unveiling the micro-world of political rhetoric and spin £2.99 (eBook) /£10 (paperback) on Amazon Every day we are bombarded with political rhetoric in the form of interviews, debates and statements from our political leaders and commentators,… Continue Reading →

MARR: “I know the answer”

Political interviewers like to pretend that they are are asking genuine questions to their political guests. But sometimes it is revealed all too clearly that their questions are really designed to try and steer the guest towards a particular answer.

“Can I explain why?” “No explain how.”

Andrew Neil interviewed Jeremy Corbyn on BBC television tonight. Neil is a forensic interviewer who usually pins his interviewees down to exact words and syllables. But Corbyn is know for his own brand of stubbornness, and there was one wonderful… Continue Reading →

I AM answering your question

Politicians often get accused of not answering questions but sometimes they fight back as Andy McDonald did on Friday.

Eye fluttering

Politicians use all means to try and grab and hold the floor during interviews including non-verbal means. Nigel Farage has developed an interesting technique where he flutters his eyes for a few seconds, almost bringing them to a close, in… Continue Reading →

New species observed since Brexit referendum

Brexit has not only changed the political landscape but has also given rise to a number of new species in the Homo genus according to scientists. Here is a quick run through some of the newcomers.

Interruptions at Prime Minister’s Questions

Interruptions at PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) are recorded in Hansard in a limited way, usually through the insertion of the word ‘[Interruption.]’ and are often followed by the Speaker’s call to order. The house however is collective body and background… Continue Reading →

Revealing ‘ah’ in PMQs

In a previous post I have argued that the house is a multi-faceted chamber with comments and background noise from members of the chamber combining with the current speaker to create a multi-modal discourse act. This is particularly important during Prime Minister’s… Continue Reading →

Hesitations

Hesitations are a natural part of unscripted spoken language. We all hesitate from time to time while speaking for various reasons: to plan what we want to say next, to correct errors or for dramatic effect. Hesitation is normally apparent… Continue Reading →

Grayling’s grilling

Political interviewing can be a frustrating affair when the politician being interviewed refuses to answer directly the questions put to them. John Humphrys, a BBC radio 4 presenter and interviewer, gave Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP, a grilling on the… Continue Reading →

Slip-squared

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for anyone speaking in public, but when the slip occurs twice in quick succession, one has to ask whether the speaker subconsciously really wanted to say something different. David Cameron (DC) was outlining… Continue Reading →

The language of U-turns

We all have to make U-turns in our lives sometimes: reversing our car when we realise we’ve gone down the wrong road; changing our opinion on some topic; wearing something we swore we would never wear. For politicians, making a… Continue Reading →

Chuntering from a sedentary position

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, likes to pick up on members who ‘chunter from a sedentary position’ – a slightly politer, and perhaps archaic, way of saying ‘shut up and stop muttering’.

Can I say s**t in the House of Commons?

Certain words in the House of Commons are normally taboo but sometimes it is possible to get away with using them by quoting someone and asking for ‘leave’ from The Speaker.

Exasperation and incredulity!

Political commentators and journalists all have their own idiosyncratic styles when interviewing politicians. Emily Maitlis, the BBC Newsnight  commentator, often shows exasperation and incredulity in her voice through sweeping intonation falls and facial expressions. Here is a brief analysis to… Continue Reading →

Gove’s Gestures

Michael Gove, Conservative MP, serves up some curious hand gestures while speaking including teacup gestures and steeple Vulcans. Here are some of the more interesting examples from his interview on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 1)

Editor: The BBC’s Question Time programme on Thursday nights seems to court controversy these days as we hold it to ever more stringent impartiality standards. In this blog, Elena Ioannidou dissects the discourse that this programme produces from a CA perspective…. Continue Reading →

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 2)

Editor: This is part 2 of the blog on the BBC Question Time programme. Part 1 is here.

Holding the floor: Eyes down

The eyes play an important part in human communication. They can signal an intention to communicate and sometimes act to facilitate turn transition. In this example here, we see Tom Watson, the  Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, using his… Continue Reading →

The many faces of ‘no’

Theresa May seems to have developed many ways of saying ‘no’ without actually meaning it. In her interview with Andrew Marr at the weekend, she frequently used reduced articulations of the word (e.g. ‘n-’) to preface her responses to Marr’s… Continue Reading →

Bad things always come in threes

One way to put a politician on the spot is to ask them how many people have been affected by their policy. Three times seems to be the optimum number of times to ask according to the Andrew Marr’s rulebook… Continue Reading →

Two ‘fakes’ raise the stakes

Conversation can sometimes be like a game of poker, raising and doubling stakes, as the Andrew Marr Show demonstrated on Sunday.

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