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Presidential candidates' ethos of credibility: The case of the presidential pronoun/in the 2012 Hollande-Sarkozy debate
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.
2014 (English)In: Discourse & Society, ISSN 0957-9265, E-ISSN 1460-3624, Vol. 25, no 6, 741-765 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The traditional televised debate remains a decisive event in the French presidential elections. This study aims to examine the ways in which French presidential candidates in 2012 reinforce their credibility, their ethos. More specifically, I will study the use of the pronoun I as used in the debate by the candidates, a text element that refers to a physically present I behind the discourse. This pronoun is essential in the 'self-presentation' being developed by candidates in the debates. So, I try to categorize the different types of 'I' relating to the concepts of, for example, solidarity, commitment, authority, patriotism. Second, I will analyze the relationship between ethos and rhetorical use of the French sentential negation ne. pas, the most significant and frequently used counter-argumentative tool used in electoral debates. My studies have shown that counter-argumentation by negation is a relevant parameter for determining the type of text (polemic) and the genre (political debate). The study therefore aims to highlight the relationship between constructions of credibility as presented through the candidates' use of I, on the one hand, and the refutation of one or the other candidate's arguments, on the other. This study is based on an assumption of the theory of polyphony that the sentence negation stratifies the utterance into two points of view that are hierarchically organized and semantically opposed: one that refutes and the other being refuted. My assumption is that candidates build ethos by developing a counter-image of the other candidate. Using the negation then allows the candidates to refer to a negative image of their protagonists, while at the same time providing a positive image of themselves: 'I would not call my Prime Minister a traitor' (Holland, 2012). Sentence negation also seems to be used to save their own ethos, which is the case when candidate A refutes an argument (from candidate B) which discriminates the positive image of candidate A: 'Of course I do not take all the credit, but I also do not take all the blame Mr Hollande' (Sarkozy, 2012). These types of examples show that the form ‘I’ in relation to the function of negation is relevant to an examination of the ethos rhetoric of the candidates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 25, no 6, 741-765 p.
Keyword [en]
Counter-argumentation, discourse analysis, ethos, linguistic polyphony, media, negation, personal pronouns, political debates, rhetoric
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108982DOI: 10.1177/0957926514536835ISI: 000342895500004OAI: diva2:767446


Available from: 2014-12-01 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2014-12-01Bibliographically approved

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